I occasionally get stories like this via email and I love receiving them. I’ve written plenty about why I Want The Saab. It’s always great to hear why others want the Saab, too. It feeds my Saab-Fu.
This story comes from Daniel B, who lives in Sweden.
My love and passion for Saabs began in 1987.
When I was about 13 years old, my father came home one day driving in a white Saab 9000i. It was a 1987 model, 2,0 liter 130 hp with burgundy velour interior. Today one might say that there is nothing special about that car at all, but in 1987, this was just something else.
My family had had Volvos since I can remember and the change from a Volvo 244 GLT 1981 to a Saab 9000 1987 – well, let´s just say that it was one HUGE step. In the public eye in Sweden, Saabs had always been the standing in the shadow of Volvo, and to be honest, were quite heckled.
With the 9000, Saab had made a car that had something of a halo-aura around it. In the late 80’s, it was THE car to have.
For me, personally, I was struck by love immediately. Car-wise.
In 1988 my father changed the 9000 for a 1988b model, with blue interior, and all the extras except leather. I remember sitting in the back of the car watching the interior, the dash and the various buttons with their glowing green symbols, and the ACC-panel with its small lamps besides the buttons. The SID which looked like it was taken directly from Star Wars.
I made my mind up back then. Saab was the car for me.
In 1992 when I got my drivers licence, I bought my first Saab. A brown 3-door 1980 900 2.0. It might not have been a beautiful color, but it was a great car. It was comfortable, great to drive, with great winter handling. My friends in their Volvos, well they were mostly gliding around in the snow with the rear wheels spinning.
One of the best things (mechanically) with that car IMHO, was how the drivetrain was mounted. One day I had to change the clutch. Let me just say, changing a clutch on an OG 900, is like a dream:
1. Off with the bonnet.
2. Get some tools
3. Your butt on the radiator, your feet somewhere in the enginebay where you can find room.
4. Get the old clutch out. Put the new one in
5. Put the bonnet back on.
What a car…
In 1994 I got my first job and I needed a better car, so I bought my dreamcar (well almost). A 1986 9000 Turbo, Silverish blue.
It had some rust on the doors, which I fixed, but there was more for this car to come since I crashed it in 1995 and made a total restoration as well as rebuilding it as a black 1990 Aero. I loved that car.
I have sometimes come to wonder why I have come to love this particular brand. Why Saab? I’m sure that there are a lot of cars that perform better in some areas on paper, but for some reason the heart and mind keeps sticking to Saabs.
The only answer I have is that at least for me, Saabs have been the only cars that have perfomed best in the combined areas that I value the most.
Sure, VW´s might be more spacious, Audis might have better build quality and material in the interiors, BMW might have better handling in the hands of an experienced driver, Volvos may have better reliability, and Toyotas may (a big may) be more fuel efficient etc etc.
BUT in a Saab you get a combination of great performance in terms of all these features, a combination I just can’t find in any other car.
VW’s are boring, Audis are just the same (and they have looks like milk cartons – they all look the same but in different sizes), BMW is too “look at me” for my taste and too conservative, Volvos are….well…. just boring too. Toyota? No thanks, not for me.
Saab needs to be more Saab. The best comment I’ve heard from Victor Muller, one that Saab needs to adhere to: Say what you are. Do what you say.
What I feel that Saab have lost though is the way it was DIFFERENT from other cars in the past. And I truly hope and wish that this thinking will gradually come back to how it was in the old heyday.
The way the gauges looked, with green lights and orange needles, the compressed speedo. Controls for power-windows that you pressed down, when you wanted the window to go down, and lifted when you wanted the window to lift. At the same time other car maker had switches that you pressed forward to get the window down and backwards to get it up.
Controls for heated seats that were like reostats that you turned with the tip of your finger instead of pushing a button over and over in order to get the right level of heating. Other cars had just an on/off switch.
Doors that went down with the threshold integrated so that your pants or skirt didn’t get dirty getting in and out of the car.
The way the rear spoiler on the OG 9-5 SC was designed in order to keep the rear window from not getting dirty.
The clamshell bonnet that made engine bay access easy.
The list just goes on and on…
Don’t get me wrong. I love the NG 9-5 and 9-4X, and if there had been a 9-5SC back in August I would have got one instead of my 2010 OG 9-5. BUT, I get a feeling that instead of going their own way – The Saab Way if you like – the main focus has been to make the cars as equivalent to the competition as possible, and in that process, they have kind of not looked the other way, and thought out of the box. It may be a result of GM being the overlord of the decisions being made (I truly believe it is – SW)
It’s not that the cars don’t perform good enough. THEY DO. It’s not that the cars don’t look good enough. THEY MOST DEFINITELY DO.
It’s just that the I feel a lack of the intuitive solutions of controls, instrument layout. The HUD is fantastic though!!
It is my firm belief that people who buys Saabs do so because they want a car that is different and special (Intelligent if you like –which I personally think is a good description of what Saabs should be like. Kudos to Curvin O’Reilly) – and not just as good as the rest out there. We kind of take that for granted, we Saab drivers, and in some way we can live with the flaws as well.
It’s just like any other lovestory:
-You love her because she is just THAT. Special, different, to you just perfect. And the small flaws sometimes just makes you love her more…