Posted by: saabnuts | July 1, 2012

What made me a Saab fan?

Swade Hugs the Saab PhoeniX Concept Car

Swade Hugs the Saab PhoeniX Concept Car

What made me a Saab fan?

I’m not entirely sure nor is there likely a single answer to the question I’m asking myself.  Nor do I expect anyone else would care, but I’m asking myself aloud on this blog anyway.

Perhaps the question is on my mind since I wonder what comes next for the people of Saab Automobile, as I hope that they all have jobs SOONER than later with NEVS, the new owners of the car company once known as Saab.   What sort of cool and neat stuff will they design and build, even if not called Saabs?

This article from Life with Saab and the one preceding it on the same great website were among the many triggers to my thinking aloud about it all… the future of the Saab car brand, now owned by NEVS.

I feel guilty for not having written more editorials when it might have mattered what I did on this little blog, to drive more traffic to Saab and hopefully, more sales of cars.

I’m tired.  Tired from working too much, and tired of dying 1,000 deaths watching this car company I care so deeply about and the people who made Saabs never quite be the success for sustained periods that they deserved.  Tired of non-Saab fans bashing the company and cars, and in many cases from people who never owned, drove or sat in a Saab making nasty, unfounded comments about them.

So what did get me hooked?

Safety.  Innovation.  Style.  Performance.  Different.  Cool?  Fun to drive.  Practical.  Those are but a few of the words that come to mind when I think of the Saabs I’ve known, going back to being a kid in the 1970’s and having a neighbor who owned two of those “odd” cars (odd to everyone else, neat to me).  The neighbors on my block who owned Saabs had two at a time, and went from 96 models to 99 models during their time and mine on that street.  I always admired how friendly they were and how different their cars were too, and enjoyed asking them about their Saabs and they were always eager to tell me about them.

When the EMS and then Turbos were introduced I was excited, and that excitement was followed by the 900 GLE and 900 Turbo, which I also thought were cool and interesting cars.

The more I learned about Saabs the more I liked them and the more interesting they became to me, even while lusting after many other cars as a kid.

I got hooked on Swedish cars.  I tried to make my first car a used Saab but couldn’t manage it.  The “right” Saabs for my budget, etc. simply weren’t available and so I started out in other cars and Volvos.

When the opportunity finally arose to own a Saab, I jumped in and never regretted it.

Yes, I loved and still admire everything from Ferrari Daytonas to Jaguar E Types and a few American muscle cars, as well as other marques from around the globe, but nothing suited me quite like Saabs.  They had everything I wanted from cargo carrying capacity and safety, to superior winter and off road handling, in an efficient, aerodynamic package.

I was later able to realize the dream of owning new Saabs and have been through 7 Saabs total in 24 years.  If they weren’t made so darned well the number might be higher.

It’s a new day and a new era and a new chapter in the life of the car company once if not still called Saab.

I may never buy another new car and may never buy an electric car but my passion for Saabs has not diminished, nor has my focus on wanting the people of Trollhattan to enjoy success that isn’t fraught with the on going threat of them losing their jobs for not selling enough cars.

We are not selling our Saabs, at least not yet.  Perhaps we will be forced to let one or more go at some point but I truly hope to keep driving them even if they no longer make the kinds of Saabs we own and enjoy.

It’s not because I do not want to support the people of Saab, but because I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to afford new cars or that electrics will meet our needs, at least not in the near term.

So what did make me a Saab fan?  That first test drive my dad took in a 900 Turbo that blew me away when he hopped onto an interstate highway and gave it a little gas?  Driving around with a friend who got to drive her mom’s 900 Turbo on twisty little roads and chasing her in my 99 EMS?  Being part of a group of car owners willing to be different?  Being able to jam a small sofa in the back of a car that was still fun to drive?  Driving on snow and ice and making our Saabs “dance”?

It was all of those things and more.  We still love our Saabs and thank those who designed and built them, even when the world or their parents companies tried to make them conform to non-Saab standards, they still managed to produce cars we enjoy and love to own and drive.

Whatever the reasons, I am and remain a fan.  We may someday drive other cars again / in addition to our Saabs, but I think being a fan is a lifelong thing for my Mrs. and me.

Does anyone else feel the same?  I’m sure they do but even if I am alone in my thinking, it’s ok.  I’ll be the last person out there if need be, who still loves their Saabs.

I’ll be more open now as well, thinking it might be ok for me to express some opinions I kept to myself for ages.  I was always afraid to be openly critical of Saabs because they had enough trouble attracting more buyers and drivers.  I was always sick of people saying things to me before I even had a license such as that Saabs were or felt “bussy”, like driving a bus, not a car, or just plain ugly.  Of all the Saabs I ever drove, none of them gave me that “bus like” feeling or impression and it made me annoyed that people think those things and tell others.  I wondered if the person who said that to me ever drove a Saab, yet I KNOW he did.  He’s just an idiot, and my brother, so I know he’s an idiot in many ways… it isn’t just my opinion!

I’ll also admit that the first time I SAW a Saab 9000 I was not excited.  I thought it was just too much of a “normal” looking sedan.  Then someone gave me their 9000 Turbo keys and I thought, wow, this is incredible, and made my 99 EMS feel comparatively slow and less exciting!  But I became a fan of the 9000.  I also continued to enjoy my 99 EMS.

I did not like the looks of the next generation Saab 900 introduced in 1994, and yet we bought one and loved it and came to appreciate the looks of it too.  I liked having the NG 900 in our garage next to what is now known as a classic 900.

I thought the Saab Phoenix was not my taste when I first laid eyes on photos, and yet that too became something I like and admire.  In a similar sense I wonder what NEVS will do, if I’ll initially dislike it and then come to appreciate the work.

This is actually something I hope for, that NEVS cars will be different as I think Saabs (or cars designed & built by former Saab employees) ought to be different.  The world has enough Toyota / Honda / Ford / pick nearly any other car brand of look alikes / every car looks like a bar of soap with lights on it, out there for people who want to be a sheep, going with the flock, who want to fit in and not have something different, perhaps “better” than the other cars on the road.  I hope NEVS can let the former Saab employees produce unique cars again.

Best wishes again to the former employees of Saab to find jobs quickly and for resuming their great work no matter what they are designing and building.  I look forward to their new work no matter whether or not it is something we can put in our home or driveway.  Whatever they do I have a feeling I’ll end up being a fan.

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