November 11, 2007

A brief look at my ownership of Saab 900s.

Since before I was old enough to drive, I was already quite sure that I wanted my first car to be a classic Saab 900. Living in a somewhat rural location in Pennsylvania isn’t exactly conducive to locating a somewhat bizarre European sport coupe. Funny thing is, it turned out that the owner of the local Dodge dealer, which primarily sold Ram trucks, also had a bit of a Saab fetish. In fact, on any given day driving past the dealership’s used car lot, you were likely to see at least a few old Saabs (even a 900 based limo once), most of them wrecked and being stripped for parts, but occasionally on sale to the public. I distinctly remember what would become my first car sitting in the parking lot there surrounded by Dodges. I drove my $1000 900 base-model (complete with anemic 8-valve engine) for nearly two years. Put a lot of miles on it, a new clutch in it, new drive shafts and ball joints, and brakes and so on.
Considering that the car was only one grand, had 150,000 miles on it when I got it, and was a 1988, it really served me damn well. And when I decided it was time for a newer car, I had already decided on a newer 900 Turbo. As luck would have it, I found such a car at the very same place I had bought the first 900. Initially it was overpriced, but I waited them out and within a month or so, I was driving a clean Imola red 1993 Saab 900 Turbo with 72k on the clock. That was about 4 years ago this month.
Now I’m still driving my ’93 900 T, and it has 174,000 miles on it now. As you can see, I’ve put over 100k miles on it since I got it and I’ve done little major maintenance to it since then. It’s been wonderfully reliable, extremely practical, and a lot of fun. It’s modern enough to be right at home in today’s traffic, and even be able to embarrass riced-out Honda Civics and the like, yet old enough to be worked on by someone without a degree in electrical engineering or an experienced resume with NASA. It’s served me on long drives across the state, daily work commuting, camping trips, moving all my things to college, moving all my things to a different house, taking my friends out around town, and casually racing kids stoplight to stoplight, to name a few. It does all of these things well, even in horrid lake-effect snow courtsey of Lake Erie. Must remind it of Sweden. The car is getting rough now. My day-to-day use, and sometimes abuse, of the old Saab is taking its toll. But I can say pretty certainly now that this car has exceeded all expectations and in my opinion, really is one of the best passenger cars of the last 50 years.

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