Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Farväl, Saab!

In the 1960s, the Saab 93 was a glorious oddity, fairly popular in New England because it was the rare automobile available with front-wheel drive. That helped the car get through the snow, though its tiny (38 horsepower!) engine was a two-stroke, giving it so little compression that the car had a tendency to roll when left parked in gear--and you couldn't use the hand brake because, like the contemporary Volkswagen Beetle, the brakes might freeze. As a result, a friend of mine carried several short lengths of two-by-four with which to chock the wheels when he left the car unattended.

Today we read that Saab has vanished from the world's automotive scene, victim of bad judgment on the part of General Motors and the musical-chairs acquisition game that followed the GM bankruptcy.

The Saab was born toward the end of the Second World War, when a Swedish aircraft manufacturer needed a product for its Trollhättan factory when peace broke out. This was the same factory that had assembled Brewster 'Buffalo'-type fighter planes for Finland in 1940. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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