21st Jul 2004, 14:47
I drove a 1999 VW Passat for the last 2 years. The car drove well, and I loved the high speed capabilities. A few problems here and there cost me a little over $2000, and I not one to bring a car into a shop unless I just couldn't fix it myself.
Finally, I decided to shop the used car market and downgrade into something that was a little older, and a little bit less expensive to operate (like insurance, and reliability issues). After choosing the 5 highest priorities I set out to find a 4 door sedan with a 5 speed manual transmission, fold down rear seats and a good mix of power options that would get greater than 25 miles per gallon.
I had never paid much attention to Saabs, but suddenly this sea-foam green 1986 900 S caught my attention. It had 110,000 original miles, and all the service records from day one. An older professor was selling it, and asking $2500. After a test drive and some serious haggling I talking him into letting it go for only $1500!
My fiance and friends all thought that I was certifiably INSANE for trading up a decent '99 Passat for the '86 Saab 900 S. I just had this feeling that it was the car for me.
I've had it for about 2600 miles now and after having gotten acquainted with it, I am IN LOVE. For being a solid 13 years older than the passat, my Saab is capable of nearly the same high-speed highway performance, and is just as solid, and tracks just as straight. I did spend some time getting the cruise control to work again. The vacuum lines had cracked. I also put new rear brake lines on from the rear floor pan to the calipers because they were so rusty, I decided to replace early, rather than risk a failure.
Considering that my 900 S is 13 years older, gets about 2-3 mpg better than the Passat and is WAY MORE fun to drive and exceptionally easier to work on, I consider my Saab an upgrade.
Being a mechanical engineer by trade, I am intrigued by the design approaches used by Saab, and enjoy thinking about the out-of-the-box ideas employed by the curious little automaker from Sweden. It is too bad that GM committed veritable automotive genocide when they took over Saab. The romanticism of the goofy Swedish company is now stifled by the thick cogs of the Capitalist structure.
For those of us lucky enough to stumble across a left-over gem from the glory days of Swedish automotive engineers, we are rewarded with an intriguing, fun and inexpensive European icon rich in history and innovation.
3rd Feb 2006, 04:34
I totally agree! I am so in love with my 1984 Saab 900 that I named her "Red Sonja" (after the barbarian woman in "Conan the Destroyer.") Well, she is Scandinavian and I do own a Viking helmet! Anyway, this is my second Saab and I will never sell her. These classic Saabs are heirloom potential, and stout. Such a solid car with a charactor unlike any other car, and practical in so many ways. The engineering behind the power plant and drive train I think rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Built from Jets! You can tell by the Swedish-made cars, all built by hand. And she is very charming with her Swedish stickers all around the inside of the door-jams and engine compartment! Jeg liker von min! (Norwegian for "I like my car") and the languages are very similar so I can actually understand the stickers without having to read the "engelsk." Yes, I am proud of my heritage, so I am a bit beyond obsessed with this red jem! When I was in high school, I remember seeing these cars as a "rare" exotic in rural Pennsylvania. I thought that they were really neat. Little did I know that it would become the car of my dreams. It's the best hatchback three door vehicle that I have had the pleasure to own, and I have owned MANY cars over the years. I think I have settled down with a car that I will be satisfied with for many more years to come. Its the car that I would be proud to drive my Mom around town in! I just wish my redneck father would stop calling it a "vagina" (confusing the car for a "Volvo.")
My car is a real head turner, and I have the very rare factory optioned "SAAB" hatchback window louvers! I have had enthusiasts offer my serious doe for that kit! The original paint is still in very good shape, and looks "wet."
23rd Jul 2007, 12:25
I couldn't agree more that GM destroyed the exquisite engineering beauty and artistry of the SAAB automobiles.
I couldn't understand the sale of SAAB to begin with, considering the stature the company enjoyed.
My second SAAB, for example, a '91 900 turbo convertible was the apex for styling, in my opinion, and was one of the cars of choice in the show "Dynasty," as one may recall. My red version, with a tan top, looked spectacular. Although the water gasket blew traveling over the Alps from Italy to Austria (try finding an Italian mechanic who speaks English and works on Swedish automobiles!) it hugged the road and ran like a dream. I even loved the purr of the engine!
Now I have an '86 900 turbo convertible that is silver with a black top, in mint condition, and I enjoy it just as much. It is a somewhat quainter version from the '91, but it compels you to drive it.
I am saddened by what the Americans have done to such fine European design and performance. I personally thought the future versions looked like a revamped Ford Escort, devoid of anything interesting for a car enthusiast.
Americans simply do not understand European culture, nor do they even try to, when comparing their consumerist capitalist republic versus the social democracies. Why they don't is a mystery to this American... having lived overseas for 15 years I know how we can benefit from their quality-of-life focus behind a standard of living that most Americans would envy if they knew about it. Perhaps only then, would the true SAAB have survived.