Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can't Stop Saab-in'

I never thought I'd be sad to hear of the demise of a car brand, particularly one of a car I've never owned.  But the death of Saab is making me surprisingly melancholy.

I've only driven one Saab, once.  It was about fifteen years old and had had several previous owners, but it was still a powerful, liberating experience.  The feeling was hard to describe.  The closest I can come is to say it is the same feeling I have when I step off a plane in a country I haven't visited before:  one of adventure, of appreciation for something foreign yet familiar, of the potential for something interesting, cool, and memorable to happen at any second.

My dream sports car for years has been a Jaguar XKR, but once I had kids I realized that was likely to stay a dream for a long time given its price tag -- absent a best-selling novel, a winning lottery ticket, or a wealthy, distant relative randomly deciding to leave me everything and then kicking the bucket, all of which are about equally probable (which is to say, not at all).  Next in line was a Saab 9-3 convertible.   Though I bought an SUV when kid number two arrived, I kept my ten year old old Acura Integra since it had (1) been a gift from my mother and (2) no trade in value anyway, with the depression-era thought that in another 14 years or so I could hand over the keys to kid number one, thus saving the used car shopping angst.  Still, I nurtured a secret fantasy that if the Acura ever died, I'd replace it with a brand spanking new Saab 9-3.  Thanks, GM, for dashing another of my increasingly few secret fantasies into teeny, tiny fragments.

Apart from its style and the fact that its cars weren't a dime a dozen even on the luxury car clogged freeways of California, one of the coolest things about Saab, to me, anyway, was its origins as an aircraft builder.  Come to think of it, maybe that's why the feeling I had while driving one was one of descending an airplane into new territory.  And that's probably what the fantasy is all about at its root anyway:  freedom, adventure, and possibility.


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