Saturday, October 5, 2013

Personal reflections on SAAB, NEVS and international travel

Hey everyone, welcome to my my first post on my first blog (well, first blog that I will actually stick with... I mean it this time!).

And here we go!

My latest obsession (which more or less changes on a daily basis) seems to be revolving around Saab.

I've been down this road before, my interest in the car maker first launched when they more or less crumpled unceremoniously after being orphaned by GM in their restructuring.  Top Gear did a bit of history on the company and I guess what really appealed to me was how their cars stood out in terms of quirkiness and safety... and popularizing the term "Turbo".

After their demise, the automobile brand was purchased by National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS)... which is a Chinese owned Swedish holding company.  Saab recently came up on my radar again because they have finally started rolling out test cars at the assembly lines and will hopefully be producing cars for purchase again!

Of course, no one is quite sure what will actually materialize in terms of final product... the assembly line seems to be set up to churn out old 9-3s and a quick review of the company's website will yield that they plan on redeveloping the car so it runs on an electric drive-train.

But I'm in no financial position to be one of the first people in line to give my money to a resurrected car brand with as of yet unknown long-term quality.  Truth be told, I'm in no financial position to throw my money at any cars except the ones my family already own... it's amazing how fast a loan on a Pontiac G5 goes underwater at zero percent interest.  Luckily it's a generally accepted fact that new cars don't appreciate in value and auto loans were never packaged into investments the way sub-prime mortgages were.

Anyways, lately all of my online window shopping has usually included two or three searches for used Saabs (better to stick with the evil well traveled).  I've mostly been interested in 2008 and up 9-3s, 2006 and up 9-5s and the 9-2x (lovingly dubbed the Saabaru).

The 9-3s are good looking cars and seem to have some decent performance virtues (especially in Aero XWD trim).

The 9-5s have a pretty potent 2.3L turbo 4 banger that puts out a decent 260 horse and it also has a reputation as a solid highway cruiser (which would serve me or the wife well in our respective commutes).

As for the 9-2x, it's just a better looking Subaru Impreza (although many disagree with me, citing the two tone brown/beige leather interior) which is in itself a pretty well made and fun to drive car... even more so if one opts for the Aero (WRX!!!) package.  All you need to do is get over the fact that this thing is a borderline Frankenstein's Monster.

I'll be honest though, I've never been behind the wheel of a Saab.  I made a half assed attempt at rectifying that this morning though.  I was going to be in the vicinity of one of two somewhat-near-to-me former Saab dealers to take a look at some of their used inventory and maybe get a chance to even test-drive one.

Unfortunately, salesmen seem to be able to tell when schmucks like me have no intention of actually buying anything soon.  As a result all I got was some conversation and a business card.  So due to my lack of gusto (I showed up but never actually asked to drive one), I'm still holding onto my Saab V-card.      

However, I have been a passenger in one.  So, (continuing in the same vein as my v-card analogy) if driving a Saab constitutes a home run, being a passenger has got to count as getting to second base.  To be honest though, it was 5am and I was on my way to the airport to catch a flight to Barbados.  As a result, I really only remember feeling that strange combination of exhaustion and excitement that I have only experienced when embarking on early departing Caribbean air travel and Christmas mornings -- and quite frankly, none of that was due to the car.  But I don't remember anything bad about it either and it's obviously left me wanting more, so at least it's got that going for it.  Let's call it a slide-in at second... it counts but almost didn't.    

And for those curious, I don't really remember the model or year either.  But it did say "Turbo" on the back... which as we all know means it's better due to some unnatural boosting.  So I guess it's a slide in second with a silicone sister with a manager mister who told me I got what it takes.

Anyway, that's it for now... watch out for my next update coming soon (believe it when you see it). 

Until then, TTFN!                               

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