I have been in love with Saab cars since first got my driver’s license at age 17; the very first car I test drove was a Saab. I didn’t buy it but Saab cars were always in the back of my mind. Years went by and interestingly enough I began to notice a pattern in the men I dated; they all drove Saabs. I was in the market for a new car and was looking at Honda’s and Toyota’s; my then boyfriend suggested that I would get more car for my money and have a great car to drive if I bought a Saab. I bought my first Saab a bright red 1994 900. That was my introduction and I have been in love since. There was, however, one Saab in particular that was the love story of my life.
It was 2006 and I was looking for a replacement for my 97 Saab 9000 CSE. I wanted a 9-3 hatchback. As I started my search I wrote up a list for my new Saab: I wanted either silver or grey for the exterior color, it had to be a 2002 with under 50,000 miles. Standard transmission a must as well as leather interior. When driving around if I spotted a Saab matching my description I would say out loud “There’s my car”. List in hand, I began my search.
In a matter of weeks after starting my search, I found my car; a 2002 charcoal gray 9-3 hatchback with every option I wanted and only 32,000 miles. With some savvy car coaching from afar from a mother’s friend who was a retired car salesperson in Idaho I got what my car savvy roommate said was “a steal”.
My 9-3 was a car, an SUV and a truck rolled into one. I amazed friends when I moved house mainly using my car. As a horsewoman I made regular trips to the feed store loading her up with bales of hay and 50 pound bags of horse feed with room to spare. An avid boater, I car- topped my kayak and rowing shell to and from my aquatic adventures across New England.
The slope of the hatch made loading a cinch and I could easily fit my nine foot long oars inside. Mechanically, my car never let me down until around 150,000 miles it was acting sluggish and much to my surprise my mechanic said I needed to have the engine replaced. Body-wise the car was in perfect shape: I cleaned it inside and out on a weekly basis. Engine replacement! This was like a death; it happened so suddenly so unexpected and I wasn’t ready to let go.
I bit the bullet and got the engine replaced.
I was now committed to this car and I was going to drive her until she gave out or I did. Over the next few years I replaced just about every part on the car feeling obligated as I had made the “big investment” on the engine. Because the car had high mileage at the time of the replacement combined with the above average driving I do the repairs and replacing parts happened with regularity. This car was my daily driver. Serpentine belts, timing chain, and brakes (I lost the brakes 3 times), the usual exhaust replacements, a fuel pump, tires and so much more. But still I persisted; I loved this car and I was going to take it to the limit. I got to know a lot of tow truck drivers.
I broke down on Route 495, Route 3, Route 6 and even had a breakdown, nightmare on Elm Street late one mid-winter night. My faithful friend Carol was always there when I needed a ride to work after dropping my car off at my mechanic’s shop. I was a Triple AAA Platinum member; that is until they revoked my membership on account of my car exceeding roadside assistance calls (I wasn’t keeping track). They have since given me “provisional” basic membership.
At 286,000 miles and ten years of driving it was time to let go. At first I thought it was time for a new brand since Saabs were no longer being manufactured. I couldn’t let go of the car but not the brand. I made out my list: 2010 Saab 9-3 Sport Combi, carbon grey or silver and standard transmission…
Cars.com, Craigslist, Car Gurus, I scoured them all daily looking for “The One”. I found my latest chapter of my Saab story in Florida. I bought her sight unseen and had her shipped up to Massachusetts at the end of Snow Bird season. My old car even with 286,000 miles on her was not yet destined for the junkyard. I sold her to a young auto mechanic and it felt good to pass on the keys for her next chapter.