Monday, February 23, 2009

My Love Affair with Saab Faces its Greatest Challenge

I have always driven Saabs. Except for a brief two month stint of driving an Opel while living near Lund and working in Helsingborg and Malmö, I have always driven a Saab. Automatics and manuals. 9000s and 900s. They are glorious cars. And now they are struggling horribly as a company.

I bought my first Saab before I could legally drive. I paid $1,000 for a 1989 Saab 9000 Turbo about two months before my 16th birthday. Without a transmission. It was a bronze colored beauty. Of course, over the years and the numerous trips to the mechanic, it was described at various times by various mechanics as pink, brown, maroon, purple, well you get the idea. It was like a chameleon really. But I preferred bronze. It sounded much more regal.

I drove the hell out of that thing throughout high school, and even into my first year at college. I don't think I have a single friend from high school or even freshman year of college that hasn't pushed that car at least once. It caused me so very much grief. And I loved it. Because I could fit two dorm rooms full of stuff in it and drive 20 hours without any trouble, but I struggled to get from school to my house when the weather was too hot. Because I could let the Turbo kick in and get it up to 140 mph on the way out to Nebraska, but I wasn't able to roll down the windows at drive-ins and instead had to go through the sun roof. It was quite a first car.

The next car I got was a bit of an adventure too. Not because it was always in the shop, but because it was a manual. And after four years of driving an automatic, a manual transmission was a bit new. But I managed to never roll backwards on a hill into someone. I did however manage to blow out my clutch. Stranding me in quite possibly one of the worse areas in all of Portland, OR. On a street called Killingsworth. Awesome.

Since moving here I have had plenty of car adventures. Once again with a Saab 9000. One that also only cost me about $1,000. Of course this one had a transmission. So clearly I’m getting better at this. You know, except for the whole running out of gas thing and the worthless battery thing.

But it is because of this relationship with Saab that I am a bit bummed about how their business is declining. And by declining I mean sinking like a damn cement laden Saab. I understand it. But I’m still bummed.

As it stands right now, GM is cutting Saab loose by 2010. Saab needs some help if it is to survive. There are a few options. The Swedish government bails their asses out. Which, to be perfectly honest, I’m kind of against, but plenty of people are hoping for. Granted, the Swedish government hasn’t exactly been singing Saabs praises. Something that many Saab employees aren’t too pleased about

Another option is for fans of Saab, like me, to donate money and purchase the company together. This is ridiculous. Seriously. I hate to be a wet blanket, but a bunch of Saab enthusiasts alone are not going to be able to purchase the company. It’s going to take someone with some deep pockets to do that.

Like another car company. There are all kinds of rumors out there. One being that BMW will swoop in and snag Saab. To be honest, this seems like one of the most likely scenarios. Not necessarily Saab, but that an already existing car company will buy them up. This is also probably one of the better options.

The final option is venture capitalists buying Saab. Who would really be buying a brand. While Saab has plenty of concrete assets, the thing that is worth the most is the Saab brand. Whether that is worth enough for someone to take the plunge is debatable.

When it comes down to it, I don’t think anyone really knows how this is going to turn out. But they need money. Or Saab will cease to exist. Of course, seeing as how I have never driven any car model that was younger than 1995, I still have plenty of years of Saabs to drive. I’d like to think that someday though I could make it into the 2000s and buy a Saab from a company that is still viable.

Welcome to Sweden. The birthplace of Saab.

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  1. We are all saabing for you, with you. Lee Iacocca can save this company

  2. Buy a Volvo instead, it's much more better-off...d'oh! :) I'd buy a Volvo if it weren't that expensive. They manufacture some of the Saabs in Finland as well. BTW, I wonder how many could describe his first love affair as detailed and affectionately as you did with your first car, LOL!

  3. MarketWatch headline yesterday: Saab asks Sweden for Clarity.

    As a Swedish taxpayer, I wish Sweden would offer this bit of clarity to Saab: no. No free money.

    Remember, if Saab goes under, the bankruptcy court doesn't just sell the leftover metal for scrap. It fires the management and wipes out the shareholders, then sells the assets at a price somebody is actually willing to pay. If Saab can find an investor before it goes under, so much the better. As long as they can succeed without robbing me by government proxy, I wish them well.

    Sorry, Swedish American, but by your own math, I figure you have at least 14 years worth of old Saabs in the pipeline already. After that you can get a rocket sled that runs on dilithium crystals.

  4. @anonymous - oh that was good. and thank you.

    @smek - I quite like the saabs though. it would just feel wrong with a volvo.

    and my first saab and I had some good memories.

    @robert61 - Im actually with you. I really want Saab to survive but I dont really want to see a bailout from the government.