Monday, December 19, 2011

SAAB Automobiles RIP | 1950 - 2011

Famously born from jet fighter planes, one of the quirkiest, most geeky car companies ever gave it up today. And it was a sad thing.

Sweden's SAAB Automobiles was not, after much time and effort, capable of sustaining its business model nor putting together the kind of deal to keep the company afloat in hard times. Management was in talks with potential Chinese white knights until the last possible moment. Then it all collapsed and the world lost a great and storied auto maker.

The author adored the 1976, red turbo 99 that graced more than one driveway for almost a decade. That was one wonderful car, one of the first to deploy a turbocharger, and a joy to drive and to look at.

So sure-footed on any kind of terrain. So nimble in the turns. So freaking much fun to drive. I can't tell you how many times that car got me out of nasty, slushy snow; or how it could virtually ford small streams. When on a skiing trip to Vail, Colorado, it was not surprising to find the local constabulary equipped with SAAB police cruisers. Uh-huh. That's right.

The best SAAB memory that remains with me these many years later, is driving all day through the southern Oregon forest and finding ourselves at dusk on an unmarked timber road.  But hey, we had the SAAB. No problem.

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