Posted by: saabnuts | May 11, 2011

Deer Saab, one of my Saab Stories

Deer Saab,

This is my true story (one of them) of an amazing experience with my first Saab. It is one of many experiences that helped make me a Saab driver for life, though the sheer pleasure of driving Saabs may be the most compelling reason we are dedicated to the brand.

My Saab at the annual deer dinner and dance

Once upon time… in my actual life:

My first Saab was a cardinal red 1978 99 EMS.  I loved that car and it handled like a dream under ANY road conditions including ice, snow, mud and everything else I subjected it to enduring.  I was young enough and had enough time to take care of that car including keeping it shiny and clean even though it did see some tough terrain and weather.

One summer night while on a local cruise in my 99 I took a favorite set of roads through heavily wooded and agricultural areas that included excellent, twisting turns and some driving challenges, though not a challenge for me and my Saab.

I wasn’t going terribly fast on a straight section of road (40 MPH) when a young deer popped out of the woods to my left and started trotting along side my Saab.

Stunned at first, I maintained my speed and looked at the animal in awe, and with some fright too.  This was a reasonably sized animal and looking right into my driver’s window… close enough to touch.

I decided to ease off the gas and let the deer run ahead since it was otherwise keeping pace, and I feared it would ram me with my window open, this was not appealing.

The deer slowed too but eventually got out ahead of me and stopped in the road in front of me.  The deer looked back like it was waiting for me.  The deer was a good distance away, and there were many car lengths between us.

After a few moments, the deer charged me, and my little Saab 99. There was enough time watching it approach that I covered my face in anticipation of the animal coming through my windshield, but amazingly, nothing bad happened.

The deer did hit my Saab head on and it made a horrifying, thunderous noise.  The animal ran into the nose of the car and slid up my hood, over my wipers and windshield, over the open sunroof and off the slick Saab 99 hatchback.  The deer came to rest behind the car and we were both stunned and just sat there.

I finally decided to go ahead and turned the car around so I could use my headlights to see what happened to the deer.  It was lying on the ground in distress and not moving. This was before the days of mobile phones and so I just waited on this desolate, not heavily traveled road for someone to perhaps find me, and the deer.

Someone eventually found us and went for help.  I did not want to get out of the car as the animal was clearly injured, I have no experience or training and worried the animal might act out in fear. It just rammed my Saab and I did not want to get rammed without my Saab to protect me!

Larry and brothers

The Local Animal Rescue League

Half of the tiny town’s staff came out including police, animal rescue, and a small army of creepy “Larry, Darryl and Darryl” New England types. After much preparation and disbelief (that a deer went all the way over my Saab, and didn’t dent the car or scratch it – even my Saab FM “whip” style antenna was in tact), the locals put their rescue plan into motion.

However, the moment the doors to the rescue van opened, a foul smell of dead animals hit us all including the deer. The deer sprang to life after lying still on the ground since running into my Saab, and bolted for the woods, albeit limping badly.  The hunt was on and like a motivated old lynching mob, the locals set after the deer into the woods with their flashlights and lanterns.

Some time later, the locals eventually came out of the woods but without the deer.  They waited around and then slowly disbanded, eventually leaving me, and one policeman there.  The policeman insisted I leave ahead of him (thanks, I need a cop behind me with 21 year old brain and my fast little Saab on a 25 to 40 MPH road)… not very relaxing to have the police tailgaiting / following too closely behind on what was supposed to be a relaxing drive in my Saab.

In any case, I went ahead and the officer followed me less than a mile as we emerged from the wooded area back to farmland, when something came out in the road ahead of me and stopped.  I stopped too and the cop behind me honked – I waved him ahead, he was puzzled and annoyed but pulled along side me and finally saw that I stopped because of the deer.  He asked if it was the same deer but soon enough saw it limping towards our cars as fast as it could.  Thankfully the deer did not run into the police car or my Saab this time but headed back into a farmer’s field.

The cop told me to go on ahead but he was immediately contacting the local deer gang on his radio.  I don’t know how long they were out there but the local paper said they could not catch the limping deer after hours more of trying.  I wonder whether or not this limping animal survived in the longer term.

I examined the car after this incident and found no damage at all; perhaps some scuffs but nothing more than superficial stuff.  Another interesting find was some hair from the animal on the edge of car’s turbo tail and the windshield wiper arms as well. The animal really did go over my car’s hood, windshield, open sunroof and down off the hatchback, over the turbo tail and whip antenna.

The sound of the impact when the deer hit the Saab had me convinced that my car MUST have been destroyed and was going to be totaled at about 9 years old (the car’s age when this happened).  But there was no damage… just some hair evidence… and people still think I exaggerated or made this up. It happened, weird as it did and to this day I wonder how much of my luck was the moose (and deer) collision resistant design of Saabs and how much that was helped by a slick, waxed and shiny Saab paint job.

The experience also has left me a little nervous around deer on wooded roads, both of which we have plenty of around us to this day.  We’ve both had a lot of close calls with deer in our Saabs but credit them with being able to maintain excellent control even on the windy and narrow roads we frequent, and thus avoid hitting deer that spring from the woods along side our roads.  We also honk at them since we’ve both had deer charge our Saabs and find that honking at deer is a good deterrent.

Have any other Saab owners had this happen? Are frightened deer more likely to charge Saabs than other cars?  I’ve been in other brands of cars and only got charged once in a Subaru, otherwise we’ve be charged at by deer more times than we can count in several of our Saabs.

The experience of the deer hitting my Saab without leaving any damage also sticks with me as a testament to the safety and strength of Saabs to this day, though I hope never to test any of our Saabs again with deer, moose or anything else.  But I will always remember that I survived a deer collision while driving a Saab.

I have some other hard to believe stories from my first Saab ownership. Perhaps I will share them over time if anyone finds these stories of interest.

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