Recycled Computing

A Saab Story

- 2011.10.12

I have been corrected by a couple of accurate readers who have pointed out that just putting a hard drive on my LAN did not make it a cloud and I do not really have my own cloud (see A Cloud of My Own).

So today I'm going to write about cars.

In particular, I'm going to write about the two latest additions to the Hatchett motor pool, a pair of Saab sedans. Saabs are legendary autos here in the Northeast, as they have front wheel drive and could navigate the paved-over (and snow-covered) horse paths that function as secondary roads here in New England. Back when I first visited the area in the 1970s, Saabs and Subarus were the vehicles of choice.

When I moved to this area for good in the 1980s, I couldn't afford to purchase a Saab - and this situation remained until about a year-and-a-half ago, when I purchased a 2006 Saab 9-3 for my wife. Things had changed in the Saab universe. Saab was purchased by GM in 1989 and, of course, all heck broke loose.

The first of GM's sins was to re-badge a Subaru Impreza as the Saab 9.2x and then, a Chevy TrailBlazer re-badged as a Saab 7-9x. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed, and both models were dropped, but by now Saab was sharing a platform with Opel (GM's European division).

This is where I come in.

My wife liked her Saab 9-3, and what wasn't to like? We bought it used, and despite it's age and mileage, it was similar to buying a new vehicle. The four-door sedan has enough room for four of the five Hatchetts and also delivers 30 miles per gallon. Although it sort of looks like a generic sedan, it has a hidden sports car in it due to the turbo charger. It ran well in the snow, and it had heated front seats. Apparently, Sweden has similar winters (undoubtedly warmer) as New England, and this reflects the Saab's appeal.

So when my daughter needed a car for her last year in college, my thoughts turning toward Sweden. Fortunately, an opportunity presented itself, and I found myself buying a second Saab, a 2001 9-5. This one looked more like a Saab and had a 3.0 v6. It's just a little larger than the 9-3, with lots more room in the rear seats. The rear seats are also heated (wow!), and the trunk is enormous. The old Pontiac sales motto "Lower, longer, wider" seems to sum up the differences between the 9-3 and the 9-5. I've included some pictures to further confusion. The 9-3 is sliver and the 9-5 is bronze.

Driving the two cars reveals not so subtle similarities and differences. Since Saab is way into aerodynamics, both are extremely quiet at speed. One day this lack of wind noise will get me a speeding ticket.

When both car's turbochargers are spooled up, you will be at 80 miles per hour before you can say "lute fish". The 9-5 doesn't have the turbo lag that the 9-3 does, but both are quite fast over 80. Not that you should go that fast, but, of course, I only did it in the interest of science.

If I may use an airplane metaphor (Saab started as an aircraft manufacturer), the 9-3 is like a British Spitfire - swift and pesky. The 9-5 is more like the Hawker Typhoon - more muscular and substantial than the 9-3. I think that the appeal of Saab is that it is sporty ride wrapped around a safe and sure platform. Happy in my state of Saab, I do have to warn that economically, Saab is sort of under-financed at the moment, and if some savior doesn't trudge over the tundra, it could be the end of these unique vehicles.

That didn't stop me from spotting a classic 1987 Saab turbo convertible in a lot....

Like Apple technology, Saabs just work and carry on their business with a quiet assurance. I like the older Saabs (in my defense, there might no longer be any new Saabs), just like I get a kick out of the older Apple laptops. Maybe it's the quirkiness, because old Saabs are more quirky - like the older Apple PowerBooks and iBooks.

Of course, I have to do a computer repair in the Saab 9-5. There is an information center on the dash, and the LED screen is broken. I'll have to take apart the dash, find a replacement screen, and replace the broken one. Should be easy - I think. LEM

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