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Intrepidation

Saab Story

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So Wednesday after work my girlfriend and I had a nice lunch at the park and decided that it would be fun to go to the Interstate Auto Auction...no intentions of buying, just a chance to check out and drive a bunch of cars.

We arrived and registered, the went car browsing...we ended up looking at several cars and test driving a few too. Here are some Highlights:

Dodge Stealth

My this was the first car we test drove, which my girlfriend pointed out shortly after we started looking at cars. This one was Silver, with the stupid Dodge spoiler (I like the Mitsubishi one much better), upgraded brakes, and performance exhaust, and...blue trimmed black interior. Now, I have always loved the 300GT/Stealth, so immediately we got the keys for it. Upon getting inside the first thing I noticed was that it was...cramped...with barely any headroom. It's a sports car so I suppose that's to be expected. Eventually I got reasonably comfortable though. Next thing I noticed was that the hand brake didn't work...no resistance at all...cable must have broken. I started it up, and it came to life right away, with a deep, mean growl. Adding to the list of problems was the driver's door power window didn't work, and the clutch was basically gone. Still, that's not too bad considering it's age. I put it in gear and took it to the test course (they actually have a course to drive on now). Transmission shifted well...not smooth but that may just be it's nature. I loved the fact that it was a short-throw. The car actually was quick on it's feet and shifted great. Also, to our surprise, the A/C worked...which was nice since I couldn't roll down my window. It handled and stopped well too...and best of all the engine didn't have any knocking or ticking sounds. We parked it, and I planned to pop the hood, but with no parking brake, every time I went to open the good the car would start to roll back...so I left it alone. It would have been a sweet car to get though...someday.

Next up was a 2003 Chrysler 300M. It was very dark red..kinda mahogany in color. Very pretty. It has 17-inch wheels as well. Sitting inside reveals a very nice, tan interior. It happens to be my favorite design among the LH cars. It had had automatic climate control, 6-speaker stereo, traction control, steering wheel radio controls (although the rim of the wheel was thinner than mine), leather, and the 3.5L HO with the 4-speed AutoStick. It also had nice touches like chrome ringed gauges and chrome door handles (both of which I want for my car). It also had extenders on the sun visors, which I thought was a nice touch. Curiously, the stereo itself didn't seem as good as mine with only bass and tremble settings and no cassette player...whereas mine has bass, mid, and high range adjustments as well as CD and cassette. It also had a working trunk light...something mine sadly lacks (as well as reclining back seats with an armrest). The seats themselves proved very comfortable. Taking it out to the test course, the additional power of the 3.5L was immediately apparent. While the 2.7L isn't a slug, the 3.5L has better low and midrange power, so you don't have to put the pedal as far down to get power from it. However, there seemed to be problems with the transmission. While it shifted it's forward gears fine, the shifter itself felt stiff and rough through the selections, and although the computer said the AutoStick was working, the car itself didn't seem to shift when I used it. In addition, when I put it in reverse it made a somewhat loud noise. Something was definitely not right with it...and at only 103k miles on the odometer...that's not very good. When I popped the hood it seemed to be making a strange noise from the alternator...so this car definitely would need work. Things were probably made worse when we heard some idiot revving the car like it was an S2000 later that day.

We also test drove a Silver Audi A4 (I think it was an `02 or `03). Interior and performance seemed nice...but the engine didn't sound good...there was a ticking sound. The brakes squeaked, and the suspension made lots of noise over bumps...probably needed new bushings.

I also sat in a Lincoln Continental. I always liked the looks of the late model cars...but the interior was just dreadful. It squeaked and groaned and felt very cheap...and I never even drove it. The fact that it was all gray didn't help much either.

There was also a `01 or so Silverado extended cab that had seen an abusive life as a contractor truck. Split paint was all over it...inside and out, and the leather was torn. The had an older Chevy Van from the same company too that had the $h! beaten out of it.

The most eventful test drive however was a `03 or `04 Saab 9-3 Aero 2.8L Turbo. It was silver with handsome 5-spoke wheels and a black/gray interior. We waisted no time in getting the keys to it. The "key" is a strange thing...it looks more like a plug. I unlocked it and we got in and check out the interior. The car as a whole is in great shape, with no visible wear and tear on the inside. The seats are firm but comfortable...although it felt like I was sitting on them rather than in them. The use of bushed metallic rim was very handsome (my girlfriend liked it a lot). The climate controls were easy to figure out (although she figured them out before me). I love the steering wheel design and we both loved that dash-mounted cupholder. Honestly, it never gets boring to watch it deploy. It also had a larger cupholder in the center console forward of the armrest that could expand for bigger drinks or be used for storage...it could also be closed with a sliding door. It had express down windows for all windows, which nice (but not up), as well as a sunroof.

After poking around the interior, I plugged the "key" into the ignition and it fired right up...then bonged to tell us that there was a headlight alignment malfunction and to contact the dealer (problem number 1). We took it to the test course, where I noticed that the front suspension was making some noise over large bumps (bushings maybe?). When we got to the open part of the course I gave it some juice and it took off eagerly. A test of it's manual shift mode confirmed that unlike the 300M, it worked, and was very responsive...downshifting or upshifting when I told it to. I stopped the car and showed my girlfriend teh cool placement of the hand brake...something I soon regretted...because it worked...but wouldn't release. The button was missing...and ended up being in the ashtray. I tried to reassemble it...and I did, but the cable wouldn't release. We had to call the on-site mechanic over to fix it, which he did. Embarrassing? You betcha. After that little incident we drove it around a bit more than parked it (reverse worked fine, thank you). I popped the hood to look at the engine and listen to it. Sounded great and looked very clean with no ticking or knocking. Several people were starring at the car, and some of them asked me questions about it...obviously the car sparked a lot of interest.

As for me, I love it. I love the quirkiness of it. It does little things differently than most cars and makes mundane activities like deploying the cupholder, listening to the airliner-like bong, and simply turning the key, seem...well...fun. Overall it seemed well built too, with the only cheap bits being the plastic on the center stack and the flimsy-feeling door pulls. It handled well and had good power to top it all off. It made me sad to know that we couldn't buy this thing...which is too bad because if I had the money I would have bid on it. I do know this: Saab is now on my list of future cars to want.

The car didn't sell.

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So Wednesday after work my girlfriend and I had a nice lunch at the park and decided that it would be fun to go to the Interstate Auto Auction...no intentions of buying, just a chance to check out and drive a bunch of cars

....

As for me, I love it. I love the quirkiness of it. It does little things differently than most cars and makes mundane activities like deploying the cupholder, listening to the airliner-like bong, and simply turning the key, seem...well...fun. Overall it seemed well built too, with the only cheap bits being the plastic on the center stack and the flimsy-feeling door pulls. It handled well and had good power to top it all off. It made me sad to know that we couldn't buy this thing...which is too bad because if I had the money I would have bid on it. I do know this: Saab is now on my list of future cars to want.

Great story. The 9-3 2.0T with 6-speed manual, standard leather and $3000 off looks like a great deal.

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Saabs are fun to drive....drove a 9-5 wagon a while back...

They had a 9-5 sedan there too, but I didn't get to drive it.

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