If you were to take a moment to ponder the death of the wagon in America and had to put a timeline on when it all started, quite a few people would wager it arrived in the 1990s. That timeline makes a lot of sense, since that’s when the SUV craze really started to take off. But there isn’t a specific date when it all came crashing down, and that’s frustrating as a historian.
We can nail down the end of the Roman Empire to the year that Odoacer overthrew Romulus Augustus (476, if you were concerned), but there was never an “okay, no more wagons starting now” moment in our country.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the longroof market in the Naughts.
Sometimes when you hear hoofbeats it really is zebras.
I was in Bowling Green earlier this week, visiting the NCM Motorsports Park and watching Danger Girl grind through a five-day SCCA license school. On the second day of this odyssey, I saw a final-form Saab 9-5 parked up front, all slab-sided purity and mascara-black facial menace. There’s something profoundly depressing for me about those cars; whenever I see them I think of the narrator of Susan Minot’s “Lust” who, in a moment of shellshocked profundity, says, “I could have loved that one.” (Read More…)
Here’s my struggle:
I’m a Saab fanatic. Fanboi. Devotee. Whatever you want to call it. It’s a total #saabobsession. I’m currently driving a 2001 9-5 sedan, a 2.3-liter car that my wife and I have owned since new. I also own a 2006 9-3 Aero convertible, and I’m the vice-president of our regional Saab owners club. I’m in deep. We do have a 2011 Ford Flex Ecoboost as the main family hauler.
My 9-5 has just 118,000 miles on it, and has been meticulously maintained. For the first ten years of its life, it was my wife’s daily driver. When we got the Flex, I inherited it from her, got an ECU tune and upgraded the suspension. It’s nothing extreme, but it’s fast enough, plenty of fun, reliable, and I don’t worry about where I leave it parked.
A couple of weeks ago, the 9-5 started leaking oil onto the driveway. I took it to my good friends at my local Saab repair shop, and they told me that a seal needs to be replaced behind the timing chain cover, maybe between the head and the block? Whatever, the important takeaway is the repair estimate: $2,400. It also needs new brakes ($600), and a new clutch is on the horizon ($1,700) as the car’s still on its original clutch and it chatters when cold. So, here I am looking at over $4,500 in repairs on my beloved 9-5. Those repairs exceed the cash value of the car, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I don’t think it’s worth sinking that kind of money into it.
You can forget about ever buying a new car with the Saab name attached. That’s right, Swedeophiles, the name that conjures up happy memories of a quirky-but-attainable brand that hated column-mounted ignitions is officially dead.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), the Swedish holding company that bought up Saab Automobile’s assets in a 2012 bankruptcy sale, just announced it won’t sell any vehicles under the Saab name.
There won’t be a Swedish Spring after all. Not even in China. (Read More…)
This is the new News Round-up where we cover all the things you should know that may or may not deserve a headline on their own (or we may have simply run out of time to cover them). It’s similar to the “While Your Were Sleeping” news coverage, but not the same, hence the name change.
This morning, Jaguar announced they are going racing again, the automaker formerly known as Saab has a business plan and the Tesla Model X has a price spread that would make Porsche blush.
About five years ago, the Saab 900 was a relatively common sight in American self-service wrecking yards, but now examples of this Saab 99 descendant are getting rare.
Here’s a non-turbo 900S that I spotted not long ago in a Denver yard. (Read More…)
The contrast was so stark, it was breathtaking.
Dad was driving his company car, some sort of GM A-Body, as we pulled into the parking lot of a golf course north of Columbus. Golf, of course, is another hobby my dad introduced me to that is as sure as car collecting to drive me into debilitating debt. Anyhow, we were meeting a friend of his for a weekend round, and we parked next to his new Saab.
I was blown away. Of course, I read all of the car magazines, so I knew what a Saab was, but dad’s buddy had a 900 SPG — the high-performance, limited edition hot Swede. Black, with grey three-spoke wheels just like the car shown above. The buff book photos did not do the car justice. It’s such a vivid memory of a not-that-exotic car that is so overwhelming.
The Turkish Science, Industry and Technology ministry announced last week that it had purchased the intellectual property rights — but not naming rights — to the second-generation Saab 9-3 that was most recently produced by National Electric Vehicle Sweden, according to Digital Trends.
According to the ministry, the car will be produced with 85 percent of its materials coming from the country, and will sport a face from the defunct Cadillac BLS.
The Swedish car company, who owns most of the shuttered Saab, sold the rights to the Turkish government after it stopped producing the all-electric Saab in 2014. The new car will be powered initially by some engine, according to the report, with the ministry working with NEVS to make an electric powertrain.
Last week, we began our occasional look back at the interesting cars I’ve been posting daily in our Classic and Collector Car forum. Maybe these cars aren’t quite worthy of the full Crapwagon treatment, so we call this the Forum ReCrap.
(To the 2 percent of our readers that are female, please recall that nearly all males — especially those who happen to love cars — are perpetually twelve years old, and thus still find toilet humor titillating.)
This week, the forum featured: an SUV from a tractor company; a modern shooting brake; a legendary FWD sports car that will likely be stolen; a Japanese-built, Italian-styled derivative of a Chevette; and a hatchback that was born from jets.
The resurrected Swedish automaker producing electric 9-3s with a Saab badge signed an agreement with Dongfeng Motor Corporation to help stay afloat, GoAuto in Australia is reporting.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the Chinese company that purchased the remains of Saab after its parent company Spyker went bankrupt, announced that it would distribute electric cars in China with automotive giant Dongfeng and add a production facility there, the report details.
In return, NEVS will supply Dongfeng with engineering standards to help it meet safety standards in Europe and North America.
It certainly has been a bumpy road for Saab.