Each time we feature a Saab here on GCFSB, it’s always a mixed bag of comments. You have the diehard fans who won’t drive anything but. Then there are folks who will rattle off a number of alternative options, complaining about torque steer and the inconvenient fact that you are driving around in an orphan marque. Then you have the usual “this isn’t German” quip. Whatever the case may be, we like the products our Nordic neighbors have to offer.
Saab was about to release a new and very pretty 9-5 SportCombi before the company had the rug pulled out from it in 2011. A handful of pre-production models were built which landed in the hands of a few private owners. However, we’ll always have the first generation 9-5 SportCombi. This one for sale in Florida might not be the snazziest of 9-5s in white over tan leather with the automatic, but rarely do you see them this nice and so lightly used.
It’s been some time now since the drama that led to Saab’s demise transpired, leaving intellectuals everywhere scratching their heads when it comes time to purchase another new car. The cars from Trollhättan were always favored by those who enjoyed taking the road less traveled; leading the company itself to launch a media campaign in the mid-1990s entitled “Find Your Own Road.” While the marque has been revived under the brand National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the lineup merely consists of a rehash of the old 9-3 sedan. Before the original Saab took its last breath, we were gifted one pretty midsized luxury sedan in the form of the 9-5.
This car was barely one year old by the time Saab was on life support, with only a few examples of the even prettier estate version produced. Nevertheless, a few thousand made their way to our shores, some even equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. With a parts network still in place and an active enthusiast scene, you can have one of the last big Saabs to roam these roads for the price of a new Honda Civic.
When I first moved to Boston for grad school, I was certain that you got three things upon moving to New England: a pair of Birkenstocks, an LL Bean credit card and the keys to one of three cars: a Saab, Volvo or Subaru Outback. Perhaps I have a tendency towards simplifying semiotics, but it seemed like there was one of these cars on every corner, and if not, wagons with all-wheel drive and a manual gearbox ruled the day. So this Saab 9-5 Aero equipped with the 5-speed manual is pretty much a New Englander’s dream. It even has a little more German DNA underneath than one might suspect, as it shares some of its underpinnings with the Opel Vectra.