Friday, December 18, 2009

Saab story

My first car was a 1967 Saab 96 V4 sedan, and today's news about GM's plan to close the company and end the brand saddened me. Just another in a series of 'mixed' news stories emanating in the wake of the Catastrophe.

Melancholy acceptance---because, as you may recall, BobOnARoll has been a consistent voice in favor of the creative destruction of capitalism. I favored the bankruptcy and dissolution of GM (and still do), so the Saab story will just have to unfold, and let us hope that the company will honor the people whose talent, loyalty, and hard work gave millions of us happy memories of the Saab vehicles that flowed through our lives.

My interest in cars has faded in recent years, but I have wonderful memories of my first (and only) Saab. I bought the car through a former teacher while I was a junior at Yale, with the only condition that I keep the name Ralph that the car was given by its original owner. Ralph the Saab was a loyal and efficient companion through my adventures as a junior and senior and came in particularly handy during many Whiffenpoof road trips. I drove Ralph back and forth to Chicago several times, and the cool feature of the engine disengage which kicked in when I released pressure on the accelerator saved me many dollars (and fill-ups) during the gas crisis of the mid 1970s. I loved Ralph.

Ralph took me back home to suburban Chicago after graduation, and within 24 hours of my return, while driving Ralph into the village center, I rounded a corner heading into the shopping mall, the car stalled, stopped, burst into smoke and flames under the hood, and died. Exactly the way I myself want to depart when the time comes---quickly, no lingering.

I recall that Ralph was miraculously brought back from his demise, at least well enough to be useful to my sister for a while. But it wasn't for long. And that's my Saab story.

Thank you....for the memories.....


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