I’m currently working on a series of essays that explore why it’s the oddball cars that are the best. It’s the wallflowers that you really want. In the series are a bunch of analogies to supermodels and how they’re great for a quick ride around the block (see what I did there?) but, in the end, it’s the girl next door, the cute one that always been there, that you want to marry. She’s reliable, understanding, your parents love her, yadda-yadda etc. I’ll stop there in case I use one of them for a later post. You know, no spoilers right?
One of these wallflower cars that I spend some time talking about is Saab. Yes, Saab. I like a little bit of quirk; a little bit of different in my routine every now and then keeps life interesting. I think Saab did that for the auto industry, it added a little something interesting. They did things their own way, like an ignition switch in the center console instead of the steering column or dash, or that whole early 2-stroke phase. This Saab, belonging to long-time friend Jim, is one of those cars that does things a little left of center.
I think one of the first actual conversations I had with Jim, while we were both living in Connecticut and working at Lime Rock Park, had something to do with Saabs and Volvos being underrated and under-appreciated. Sure, they aren’t sexy but they’re fun and well, they can really move! This week Jim was kind enough to tell us a little bit about his beater. A car that, as long as I’ve known it hasn’t been the most reliable thing on the road, but it might possibly be one of the most interesting and unique things on four wheels. It definitely comes with its own unique personality.
“I have a 1994 Saab 900se. 2.0 turbo w/ a 5-speed gearbox. 1994 was the first model 90 after GM acquired Saab and also the last year of the classic 900. Because of that, it was incredibly difficult to buy parts for my car back in 2011-2012. Parts stores would think I had a classic 900 or they would tell me my car didn’t exist. That problem has long been resolved thanks to Eeuroparts.com. They are a great parts supplier for German cars based out of my home state of Connecticut.
I bought the Saab in October of 2011 for $2600. I don’t remember the mileage it had, but if I had to guess then it would be 100,000 miles. I bought it from a guy in Massachusetts who bought it at an auction. I bought the car because no one I know had a Saab, and well because it was turbocharged (who doesn’t want a turbo?).
I didn’t have it barely even a month before I had to replace a transmission mount that split in half. After I fixed that I went to a Volkswagen and Audi event in New Jersey called WaterFest. The drive there was nice and smooth, but the drive back was a nightmare. The car was stuttering and wanting to shut off under load. Then when I shut the car off at a gas station, it did not want to start back up. I was 2 hours from home and did not have money for a tow. I waited 30 mins and luckily she fired back up. I didn’t want to break down on the interstate so a 2-hour drive on the interstate ended up becoming a 4-1/2 hour backroad drive
As soon as I made it home I hit the forums hard. I got a bunch of answers on what it could be but no one was close on the issue. It ended up being a crank position sensor. That was my worst memory with the car.”
“My best moment with the car would have to be when my friend (and Beater Life contributor) Dakota and I went to the Tail of the Dragon up by Deal’s Gap just to drive around, have some fun in our cars and then go home.
The thing I like the most about the Saab would have to be that it stays fun to drive and it is a car you don’t see often. It being a car from the north, it has seen a lot of winter driving. So there is rust and spots of rot in the underside and the chassis isn’t in the best of conditions.
Every time I meet someone new and they ask about my car or get in my car. They either don’t know what it is or they look at the center console and say, ‘Wow that is where your key goes in? That is so weird.’ It’s pretty funny”
WE NEED YOUR STORIES!!! Send your stories and some pics about your everyday cars to: BeaterLifeBlog@gmail.com. If we like it. We’ll feature it!