I wrote a letter to a friend in Frankfurt. It was about SAAB, the car brand that inspires more feelings than any other. In fact, a recent study confirmed to show that SAAB owners have the highest level of psychological involvement with their cars.
[My friend is in the market for a Porsche, but having secret desires for SAAB, and so…]
“… it confirms all my longstanding beliefs in the magic of SAAB. As you well know, I cut my teeth in SAABs. The first one was a green 99 Combi Coupe, with the edgy black sunrack on the rear window. I drove the wheels off it. Literally. First snow + summer tires + no fear = inevitable doom/badaboom.
The next one was a black 900 EMS. Went some too, pumping out about 122 hp… well, it was enough to put down long single lines of rubber residue on the Karis tarmac.
Looking back to youth, I did far from appreciate the quirkiness of SAAB. The understeer was so heavy it gave me wrinkles. The handbrake braked the front wheels, making cool handbrake manouvres completely impossible. What’s worse, I found the SAABs utterly ugly and boring and ancient, not something for a hot young thing to be seen in. Such are the matters only too important when you’re young.
Soon, I graduated to a Fiat 600. The chicks dug it.
But, that special SAAB feeling never left me. In those childhood years, I formed a bond with the brand, one I’m absolutely sure would not have happened, had I ran around in a brown Datsun Cherry with filthy cigarette burns in the back seat. These days, whenever I see a particularly well-kept SAAB, I salute the driver. It makes me smile fondly when I think about them searching for reverse to get the key out…
I’ll leave the GM period out here. When you talk about SAAB, you think of Stig Blomqvist hustling his 99 into the corners of the Swedish Rally. If you’re older than me, Erik Carlsson pÃ¥ taket would spring to your mind. And does the word, I mean code, ‘Turbo’ means anything to you? By the gods, Sonny Crockett should’ve sported a white 900 Turbo in Miami Vice in 1987!
Having been raised on SAAB, there are odd side effects that will stay with you for life, one being that you absolutely must hate archrival Volvo. If you have been a SAAB driver, going to Volvo makes you a traitor of highest mark, and the penalty for such treason is no less than death.
Obviously, when you have SAAB in your blood, you also have an obligation of being hip, creative, and a bit mad, with Artek furniture in your home… a bit of a polo-neck image, sure, but in the best of ways.
Is the 96 the coolest car out there at the moment? Having grown up, it is no longer the joke it appeared to me when I was a kid. It is a classic, if there ever was an image to define the word. You can still pick them up for next to nothing here – but I’ve noticed that the prices are skybound in Germany. In any case, I think you’d be the toast of town in Frankfurt. Among all those generically black or silver Audis, Beemers and Mercs, an orange 96 is the allmighty!
If you succumb to the charms of SAAB, the car will be your friend unlike anything. A Porsche is a Porsche, they fill you with huge lust and gleaming eyes. SAAB is an unknown entity for the unsympathetic and the unschooled. But those in the know, they will wink and say good on ya. So will I.”