I was just thinking about my car. The idiotic thing, a 1991 Saab 900 Turbo, must have been running entirely off its own pure will to continue to exist, much less the parts and money thrown at it to be consumed without a trace, like a veritable black whole. That thing was my one true love. When I had nobody and no job, or a job I despised to hell and back again, that stupid Swedish aerocar was my rock.
Anyone who ever rode with me in the Saab feared for their lives, though most of them were polite enough not to voice any of their concerns. Instead, after a furtive glance at the wires hanging from beneath the dash, the left windshield wiper that sat awkwardly splayed across the middle of the windshield, obstinately refusing to back down, and the turn signal that often turned on and off of its own accord, it was back to talking about the weather and other inconsequential trivialities.
I refer to the Saab as the “aerocar” due to the fact that Saab’s parent company was primarily concerned with the design of planes, so naturally, the 900, being a convertible, was surprisingly aerodynamic for a bizarre 90s car I’d never even heard of. My favorite past time was taking it around corners too fast and making it perform in ways that a car that came to me with three different brands of tires, an utterly decimated top and a faulty ignition switch shouldn’t be made to perform. Strangely enough, despite its numerous flaws, the most dangerous thing to ever have occurred in the Saab was when I was returning home from work one night, and literally two blocks away from my house the front axle shrugged its shoulders, heaved a heavy sigh and collapsed right there on the asphalt, too weak to continue, you know, being an axle.
“I believe we’ve just lost something,” I mutter, half to myself, half to the Saab, as I drift forward on the last of my momentum, the drive train now disconnected from the wheel. Scraping to a halt on my stubborn brakes which require a professional bodybuilder’s calves, I sit dumbfounded, wondering simply why this had happened now instead of on any of the three freeways I took to get home and thanking my lucky stars it hadn’t been worse. I call for assistance and manage to get the Saab parked and off the way.
That was early 2013. There were no more major disasters after that (unless you count the power braking faltering and eventually failing over a period of several months) until August. In rush hour traffic I thought I had simply run out of gas at the most inopportune moment, but that was just being optimistic. After enduring a good fifteen minutes of idiots yelling obscenities at me and things like “Hey, DRIVE!” (Why thank you, Captain Obvious), I finally got the thing pulled over and dumped some gas in it. And guess what? Drive decided it wanted to roleplay as Reverse. Except I was on an incline, so it wasn’t actually a conscious identity shift but an inability to function as it was designed to; and that is when I realized I’d just lost my transmission.
I stand on the grass and face the Saab. Why? I mouth at it, shrugging my shoulders. I can almost see the poor thing’s headlights welling up in sadness, painfully aware that it has let me down for what is likely the last time. It knows what I know, and though neither of us want to speak it aloud, it is time to say goodbye.
The sale takes place a couple of days later. $450 from a collector interested in restoring it. It has been nearly a year but I still think about the old pile of junk, wonder whether it hasn’t been melted down after the discovery that revival is probably more costly than the damn thing was worth new.
I haven’t gotten another vehicle since, and I probably won’t until I can afford something more current. As much as I loved that weird little car, I really shouldn’t have to adjust to yet another unusual squeaking sound coming from somewhere aft, or an unfamiliar savage growl from the engine while I’m already regretting going anywhere without functioning A/C or doors that actually lock.
Saab 900 Turbo