There’s been a lot of news about Saab in 2009 and whilst covering it has been the right thing to do, there’s been a loss of focus on you – the Saab enthusiast – and your Saab experiences and vehicles.
Back when I started the Saab Pride competition, the theory was that the motoring press don’t always “get it” when it comes to Saab. Through the various Saab Pride entries, we’d have the chance to express why owning a Saab is such a great experience – and a great drive!
I’ve got a lot of Saab Pride entries stocked up and am looking forward to bringing them here so that we can all enjoy the experience together.
There’s a Saab Pride image, just like the one at the start of this article, at the bottom of the right sidebar. Click it any time you feel like a boost.
This entry comes from a guy named PGAero, who no stranger to this site. Peter’s Saab 9000 Aero was one of the original Trollhattan Saab calendar cars back when that was the done thing and it also featured in the 9000 Lovin series when we were all getting more familiar with Saab models.
PGAero recently took a trip in his 9000 and shot some great photos along the way. Thankfully, he sent it all in to share here at SU
On June 18th, my wife and I packed up our 1993 9000 Aero (5 spd, Cirrus White/Black, 106K miles) and left our little northern California home of Nevada City for a 1,300 mile road trip that would bring us through a wide range of California’s many landscapes. The objective was to attend my wife’s brother’s graduation from college (UC Irvine, Magna Cum Laude!) and we decided to add a few other sights to the trip.
On Thursday, we set out to make time on the way south and took Interstate 5 for most of the trip, but headed for the coast in Kettleman City to have dinner with my grandmother in Santa Barbara. After some visiting and dinner, we continued south via Interstate 101 and 405 to Irvine.
The Saab 9000 is an amazingly capable long-road car. My Aero has safely taken me on several 12+ hour solo drives between Montana and California during my graduate school days, so last weekend’s “quick trip” to Santa Barbara and then on to Irvine was nothing for the ol’ beast. It’s tough to beat 30 mpg in a car that does 0-60 in the mid-sixes. The legendary Aero seats did not disappoint.
Anyway, the graduation weekend was a blast, and we did the (obligatory?) Southern California beach visit (Laguna Beach this time), and generally had a great time with the family graduation festivities. A big congratulations to the graduate!
On Sunday, we headed out of Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area aiming to take Hwy 395 north along the east slope of California’s magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains. As avid backpackers and skiers, my wife and I have spent countless weeks exploring and enjoying all that this mountain range has to offer. Since its just June, and much of the high country hiking is still snow-bound, and we have a 6-day backpacking trip planned for the end of July, we thought it a great chance to see some of the other attractions which 395 has. We decided to explore the Alabama Hills, the White Mountains, and finally see the ghost town of Bodie.
The Alabama Hills are an outcrop of decomposing granite immediately east of Mt. Whitney (The highest point in the US’s “lower 48”). Many movies have been filmed in the area, and after we drove to the Mt. Whitney trail head, we drove along Movie Road to see the landscape.
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge
It was very pretty, but the washboard road was about as bad as I’ve driven. Which brings me to another comment about the car. While the Saab 9000 Aero excels in so many aspects of driving, it really isn’t the best off-road car. I know that Saab has a long rally history, but no sport-sedan like the Aero is an ideal off-roader. The car did fine, but I just feel bad about it every time I take it through the rougher terrain. (Mt. Whitney is shrouded in clouds in the left-hand quarter of the photo).
We continued north and camped in the southern part of the White Mountains. Since the White Mountains are in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada, the area is very dry, only receiving 10-12 inches of precipitation per year. At elevations exceeding 14,000′, the term “high desert” actually means something here. We camped at about 9,000 and had quite the view from our “parking spot.”
The most notable feature of the mountains, though, is that they host the world’s oldest living organisms, the Bristlecone Pine. The oldest documented tree, “Methuselah” is nearly 5,000 years old. We were able to drive to 11,300′ and get out for a couple of brief hikes among the ancients. The road was snowbound just beyond this point, so we ended our White Mountain tour here, and headed back to 395. It even snowed on us briefly just before we packed up and left.
Continuing northward, we stopped in Bodie, a very-well preserved mining town. Although much of the town burnt down in 1932, many buildings remain nearly untouched since the last inhabitants left. The cool, dry climate has helped keep it in such great shape over the years. You can’t drive through town, so you’ll have to forgive the Saab-less photo.
It rained and hailed on us in Bodie, but it was still well worth the time. The road out of Bodie proved to be more than I’d like for the Aero and the aging rear muffler gave up the ghost, so to speak, and is now sitting next to the car, waiting for its replacement. As mentioned before, I’d rather not take the car on dirt roads, but cars are meant for driving, and drive them I do. This road, however, required special attention as there were several oil-pan-cracking rocks to avoid.
We continued up Hwy 395 into Nevada, then skirted the north shore of Lake Tahoe before heading west into California and back home. All told the car covered nearly 1,300 miles (2,000km) and averaged an honest-to-goodness 30 mpg.