Another long-rambling tome that gets some stuff off my chest……
As anyone who has met me can attest, I’m no fashionista.
I don’t wear T-shirts often. Only at the gym. I prefer polos, mostly because I’ve got a rather fat neck and T’s usually make me feel uncomfortable. I only buy one brand of jeans (and one cut within that brand) because I know they’re comfortable, durable and I don’t think they make me look like a gimp. Having said that, though, I do pay more for those jeans than what I would for most other brands because I know that they’re comfortable, durable and that I’ll be happy every time I pull them on.
I value a good body of work. I don’t like the idea of musicians being famous just because they were found on the internet, as if the method by which they were discovered is part of the fame itself. Have they got substance? Have they got the ability and the patience to replicate what might be one good first-up effort?
Has there been an artist emerge in the last 5 years with the genuine potential to be a staple of the music business for the next 30 years? Possibly. I hope so. It’s been great to discover and grow with artists as they’ve emerged and grown since my adolescence. Sometimes older artists are looked at with a degree of cynicism, as old fashioned, but I tend to think the slower pace of the music industry 20 years ago allowed them to develop and for us to develop with them. I’d gladly pay three figures to see Metallica, U2, Steve Vai, Radiohead, Prince (for whom I’d almost go four figures if the seats were right), Eminem or Eric Clapton. I wouldn’t even cash a voucher to see Lady Gaga or whoever-the-kid-who-replaces-her-is.
Like many of you, I tend to find something that I like and stick to it. It’s not that I’m not open to other things. It’s not as if I’m closed to the idea of change. But when I find something that delivers the fundamentals of what I’m after, I’ll stick with that product or brand.
When I find something that delivers the fundamentals and the intangibles that give me a really pleasurable experience, there’s a very good chance that I’m sold for life. That’s pretty much what I’ve had in my experience with Saab.
I don’t know about things where you live, but where I grew up, garden variety cars like Ford, Holden and Toyota were largely without inspiration. My friends and I enjoyed our boring domestics mostly because of the shared experience of discovering the freedom that a car brings, but also because there was little else around unless you thought outside the square.
My first encouters with European cars told me that they were owned by wealthy people. It was product placement at its best. The big game shows I watched on TV when I was small didn’t give away a Holden Torana or a Ford Cortina. They gave away a Mercedes Benz or a BMW. James Bond never drove a Toyota. He had a Lotus, an Aston (and even a Saab 900 in one book).
But Australians aren’t big on showy stuff just for the sake of it (well, they weren’t then, at least). The cars had to be worth it in some way or another.
I grew up relishing the freedom my car gave me and the speed with which that freedom would arrive on the open road. As my experience grew, however, I came to discover that it wasn’t just about freedom and/or speed. Freedom was something I became accustomed to and unchecked, inappropriate speed was something I got bored with and scared of at around the same time.
Garden variety cars had given me the fundamentals. Discovering European cars in general, and Saab in particular, opened my eyes to experiences and feelings that have led me to never look at a domestic (read as “Australasian”) car again.
You can read about my Saaby Damascus Road drive at 200 km/h at your leisure, if you like.
When I discovered Saab, I discovered a car company that made me think. I found a car company with a history that I was interested in. A philosophy that I could sink my teeth into. A design language that made me take a second, third and fourth look. This was a company that did things because they were right, not just because they were cost-effective.
In Saab, I didn’t find the absolute best performance, the absolute best equipment or the absolute best in refinement. In Saab, what I found was the absolute best combination of all the things that I valued in a car.
I can’t emphasise this enough.
You see, a car has always been an important purchase for me. I love cars. I love driving them and I love the freedom and opportunity that they bring. More than that, I’ve always believed that if you’re going to invest thousands of dollars into something, it’s got to be something that you like, that you enjoy.
For some, that enjoyment will come from pure function and reliability – the fact that they get in, turn the key and don’t have to think about anything. Those people generally buy what I refer to as motoring appliances.
For me, that enjoyment comes from being engaged with the car I’m driving. It comes not just from getting to my destination, but the manner in which I get there.
What Saab gave me, then, was the best combination of everything I’ve always loved about cars – freedom, the utility to use that freedom however I wanted, the comfort to enjoy it in style, the speed and handling to get my thrills when the need arose and the inbuilt safety to feel secure in doing so. It didn’t hurt that looked so darn good, either.
All this is why on-paper comparisons mean little to me. I want the Saab.
The value, perceived or otherwise, of a speedy Honda or the new Hyundai Genesis means nothing to me at all. I want the Saab.
I want the heritage, the design, the user-friendliness. I want the community. I want the familiarity and the purposeful ergonomics.
I can’t afford to buy a new Saab at this point in my life, but if I could then I’d be looking at a Saab 9-3x right now. It’s got everything I need and want in one very attractive package. I don’t care that there’d be a comparable product at a Subaru showroom here in Australia, quite possibly at a lower price. I’m wouldn’t buying because I want a certain appliance with a given set of features. I’d want the Saab.
Right now, I’m working towards that time when I will be able to get a new one, and hopefully by the time I get there (we’re reasonably close), there’ll be a new 9-3x or a new 9-3 three-door with my name on it. I’ll gladly walk past the ‘value deals’ and the chintzy latte-flavoured showrooms of the other brands to test drive it, too.
Call me a Saab snob if you like, but I know where my primary interest lies. I know what’s going to make me happy as a supporter of the company, but more importantly, as a car guy who knows what he likes.
I want the Saab.