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Posthumus Review: 1994 Saab 9000CS

(This one may not actually be dead, but it is certainly dead to me, and so it qualifies for a Posthumus Review)

Despite nearly two months having passed since the unfortunate demise of my Peugeot 405 Mi16, I was definitely on the rebound when I bought my next set of wheels. From the sporty French emotion of the Peugeot I went to the clinically Swedish practicality (with a hint of European style, of course) of the Saab 9000CS. Instead of a five-speed manual mated to a rev-happy four mounted on go-kart-tight suspension, I now had a (relatively) heavy wallowing barge driven by an asthmatic 2.3L four and a clunky four-speed auto. But the old Saab was not without its perks. Its rear hatch provided easy access for transporting bikes and other assorted luggage with the seats folded flat. The heated front seats were a delight on cold winter mornings, and to my (possibly strange) tastes the fake woodgrain dash was a nice touch of class. The heated side mirrors and headlamp wipers were more of a gimmick than they were useful, at least in the Australian climate.

However, the Saab was not quite the perfect Swede I had hoped for. Despite its clean appearance, not long after purchasing the car I experienced first hand a severe case of used-car-buyer-beware. A string of mechanical problems soon presented themselves, from a rust-ridden exhaust to a sump that appeared to be more glue than metal. The climax of the Saab's problems occurred when I took it to get what I had thought would just be the head gasket done only to find the engine was in severe need of a rebuild. By the time I had owned the car six months I had already spent more than the car's purchase price on mechanical repairs. Of course, had I been presented with the choice of these expenses all at once, I could have chosen to give up on the car completely, but at each increment I the best decision at the time seemed to be to continue with the next repair. Needless to say, my previously relaxed attitude towards pre-purchase mechanical inspections changed after that. To its credit, after the engine rebuild I had no trouble at all with the 9000, with the only major expense being replacing all four brake discs at once (predictable, but unfortunately still relatively expensive). I did fear that the clunky gearbox was an expensive repair bill waiting to happen, but thankfully I traded the car in on my Focus before any such problems surfaced. 
In the two years that I owned it, the Saab and I shared many journeys from camping in the Yarra Ranges, to the five-hour each way journey from Melbourne to Port Fairy with a camper trailer in tow. The 9000 was probably most at home on a nice straight highway, where its engine was torquey enough and it didn't often have to change gears, although cruise control would have been nice. Corners were certainly not its strength, nor was city traffic in which it provided endless entertainment by solidly clunking between first and second gears unless a delicate throttle adjustment was applied at exactly the right moment.
When the time came to move on, it was not hard to let this one go. In two years I think I had formed less of an emotional attachment to this car than I had to my Peugeot in just five months. If nothing else I had a love-hate relationship with this car. Hate, because of its expensive troubles and uninvolving driving experience, yet still a hint of love because it was a car, and it was mine. Also, in a strange Swedish way it was just a little bit special.


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