When the arms manufacturer known as Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget built its first production automobile, the goofy-looking 1950 Saab 92, that company's best-known product was the goofy-looking fighter jet known as the "Flying Barrel." Both the aircraft and cars got the job done, but it wasn't until the late 1960s that Saab built a jet that looked just as cool as the hippest Lockheeds and Mikoyan-Gureviches. At around the same time, Saab introduced its first car that wasn't viewed by non-Scandinavians as an oddball machine for eccentrics: The 99. Here's one of those cars, found in a self-service yard just south of Denver.
The name Sonett has precisely zero connection with the fourteen-line poems Shakespeare was so adept at writing; those are sonnets. Instead, it comes from a Swedish slang expression: Så nätt den är, which I’m told translates more or less to mean “how neat it is.” And neat the little front-drive sportsters are. The first SAAB Sonett was a roadster of compelling curvaceousness. It debuted in 1956, and the trolls in Trollhättan built precisely half a dozen of them.
I’m back with more boring used car content, a topic some of you apparently despise with a passion. Caution: More used-car discussion ahead, get out while you still can if this is the case! For the rest of you, let’s review the impractical car suggestions you’ve made that earned a spot on the Yes, I Like list.
Today’s article is a follow up to the one from about a week ago, wherein I outlined my current used car shopping idea: something fairly impractical with two doors. The article racked up 195 comments thus far, and I’ve read them all and taken notes.
Let’s get down to your suggestions. First up are the cars I won’t be considering.
The General had a healthy sales hit with the GMT360 platform in the 2002 model year, when the new Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, and Oldsmobile Bravada hit the showrooms. Since GM had devoured Saab in 2000 and most American car shoppers wanted trucks or truck-shaped machines by that point, it seemed to make sense to produce a Saab-badged GMT360 and extract some cash from that slice of the car-buying populace that craved both the rugged-lifestyle signifiers of a truck and the quirky-yet-sensible Swedish image of a Saab. The Isuzu-badged version— the Ascender— had had its debut for 2004, and so the Saab 9-7X appeared for 2005 (sadly, no Daewoo- or Vauxhall-badged versions were produced). Here’s a first-model-year 9-7X, found in a Denver self-service yard last week.
During my years of documenting discarded Saabs in junkyards around the country ( and in Saab’s homeland), I’ve managed to cover the pre-GM American-market models well enough, with a special focus on the 900. In recent years, I’ve been working to cover some of the Saabs from the period of General Motors influence (1989-2000) and control (2000-2010).
I may never find an example of the ultra-rare 9-4x, but it’s easy to find used-up Opel Vectra-based 9-3 these days — and I vowed to photograph the first one I saw on a recent Denver junkyard expedition. That car turned out to be this Silver Metallic 2002 9-3 SE hatchback.
In various places on the automobile Internets, one will often see the same misconceptions and myths repeated over and over, presented as strong opinion or perhaps even disguised as fact. There are an awful lot of car fans who are dead wrong about a lot of things on the Internet. Let’s talk about it.
The original Saab 900 was a favorite of Colorado car shoppers during its 1979-1994 sales run, and I still see many of these cars during research expeditions to my local yards. So many, in fact, that I neglect to photograph most of them.
When I visited some of Phoenix’s excellent yards while on my way to work at the final 24 Hours of Lemons race before the Covid-19 menace shut down such gatherings, though, I spotted this ’86 900S and realized I need to document more of these interesting machines.
Last week we played a round of Armchair Alternative History where we discussed missed opportunities in the automotive industry. Conversation focused on actions automakers didn’t take when they should’ve.
Today is round two. Let’s go back and erase things that actually happened.
Portland seems to be a relative hot spot for old, well-maintained Saabs, and Rare Rides covered this Portland-based 99 previously. And while that little blue sedan racked up 195,000 miles, today’s 900 has covered several times more than that. Just how far can an old Saab go?
Last week, in our Wednesday QOTD post, we switched over to the darker side of truck and SUV design from the Nineties. It seemed many of our dear readers were less than fans of the so-called “jellybean” Ford F-150. This week, attention shifts to east — to Europe. Which trucks and SUVs from that most stylish of continents have aged the worst in terms of styling?
In today’s QOTD we conclude the discussion started a couple of weeks ago when we asked for the best-aged truck and SUV designs from the Nineties. First up were American brands, followed by Europe last week. Over 10,000 of you (probably) agreed with sample submission Discovery II last week; let’s see how well this week’s Asian selection sits.