Thursday, May 31, 2018

Our Life Story Told By Our Cars #12-13

Continued from cars 1-3, 4-7, 8-10.

The first time we went to Sweden (1973-74),  my friend Kenneth Randen took me shopping for a car.  I bought this Volvo 145 station wagon.   It was the worst car I ever owned.  I hated it because it was so under-powered that it took 50 miles to accelerate to 60mph with the pedal to the metal.  I kept wishing that it would die, so I could get a different car, but the damn thing was reliable.  It never did die.

When we returned from Sweden, we bought a Saab to drive in the USA (see below).  But I didn't sell the Volvo.  I knew I would need a car for trips to Sweden (I had 50 two-week trips to Sweden in the next few years.)  So I loaned to an Englishman with the understanding that he could drive it free while I was away and that he would deliver and pick up the car from the Airport when I came back to Sweden.

Eventually, the Englishman went back to England.  I didn't know where to leave the Volvo, so I drove it to Arlanda Airport, parked it on the sidewalk in front of the entrance, took the licence plates off, abandoned it and got on a plane to the USA.  Ha ha on them.  Tsk tsk for me; that was the second time I abandoned a car.   (After 911 I could never get away with that trick again.)

When we left Sweden in 74, we did something special.  1974 Saab Combi Coupe  as an "export car."   That meant that we took delivery of the car in Sweden, but within 30 days we delivered it to Saab's shipping center in Gothenburg for shipping to the USA.   It was a really fun car to own and to drive.   The kids loved it because on one particular road I used to drive over a hump fast enough to pull air and they had one second of zero G.
We bought a brand new

The bad part was that Saab didn't start marketing that car in the USA until the following year (and they renamed it Saab 99), so I had the one and only car of that model in America.  Not only that, it was the first year for that radical new model, version 1,0.    The Saab mechanics in the USA never saw that model before, nor did they read the service bulletins.  Well, I owned that car for one year.  It burned out 7 clutches in that year.  Some of the clutches burned out before I could drive it 6 miles home from the dealer.   The air intake scoop was installed backward.  A service bulletin in Sweden told the mechanics to turn it around, but the USA mechanics never saw the bulletin.  As a result, I drove through a puddle (2 days after the 1 year warranty expired), the scoop scooped up water and put it in the engine.  All the piston rods got bent like pretzels.

I was disgusted, and I sold that year old Saab for $500.  My friend Ian bought the car, put a new engine in it, and his wife Joan drove it for many years.  Ian told me that he found there were no retaining rings on the piston wrist pins and that those pins were wearing holes in the engine block.  If I had not driven into the puddle, the engine would have exploded some day when I was driving down the highway.  I call this my Saab Story.

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