How did I get to Saab?

The effectiveness of automotive advertising is generally overestimated. Or not? For Uli was an advertisement and the Saab 99 the initial spark for a lot of Saab passion. And he's stuck with it to this day. Another Saab story for ours readers action.

Saab 99 premiere in Germany. The Viking is here.
Saab 99 premiere in Germany. The Viking is here.

The history:

Towards the end of the year 1968, the first Northern cars appeared tentatively in my Upper Palatinate homeland. Among other things, on the teacher parking lot of the high school, which I visited then. Our English teacher was the first lateral thinker who broke out of the tireless uniformity of the usual VW, Opel and Ford with a Volvo 144. The label "Safety from Swedish steel" tempted curious peers in unobserved moments to knock on doors, roof and hoods: Instead of the usual, tinny "Plöng" impressed us the confidence-inspiring, solid-sounding "pop" of the Volvo body.

The first interest in Swedish technology was aroused, at least for me.

Time jump - sometime in the summer 1969:

Three events - and this in a single day - should have a decisive impact on my interest in cars, which has now advanced further. Unfortunately, the first event was deeply shattering and unforgettable to this day: My father and I were on the A3 with our Renault 16 on the way back from Frankfurt to the Upper Palatinate. Shortly after Würzburg, a Citroen DS rolled over not far ahead of us. My father carefully felt his way past the rubble field. Doors, fenders, bonnet, even the plastic roof had said goodbye to the collapsed occupant cell of the DS, the filigree A and B bars were bent like matches. In the 50s, passive safety was not in the automotive industry's specifications. My absolute dream car so far lost some of its previous, mystical shine on this day ...

Are there any "coincidences"?

Looking back, I'm not sure anymore. Anyway, two of them happened just on this memorable day.

A few hours before this terrible accident, I bought one of my first car newspapers, the then daz (Deutsche Automobil-Zeitung). Casually I discovered a half-page ad "Saab 99 - the broad-shouldered Swede", in which the passive safety of the so far unknown car was particularly emphasized. "Ripple-resistant passenger compartment, A-beams made of 2,7 mm thick section steel", etc. All this sounded interesting. If the pitiful DS inmates had chosen the Saab, they would surely have survived the accident.

The second coincidence almost two hours later, this time on the bypass of Fürth. We had to leave the A 3 because of a construction site and soon got stuck in the inevitable traffic jam, right next to the former mail-order company Quelle. Suddenly a dark blue, unknown object appeared next to us. Rounded front, chrome grille without star or kidney, semicircular windshield, side wedge shape, elegant sloping tail - no, it was not a NSU Ro 80, not a Rover 2000 TC, no unknown Erlkönig. However, this squat form seemed somehow familiar to me.

Right, it was this Saab 99 that caught my eye in the ad just before. Now I could look at the Saab for the first time from all sides, no, rather devour it with my eyes. This car looked really much better in Natura than in the ad! My certainly strange-looking gestures and looks returned the Saab driver with a serene smile, apparently already used to such reactions in his environment.

"This will be my future car," I heard myself say after this first surprise.
Until then, it would take a few years, because I was only 13 years old.

One of the first Saab 99 in Germany, built in 1969 (Photo source: SAAB les voitures du pays des trolls, Xavier Chauvin, ETAI)
One of the first Saab 99 in Germany, built in 1969 (Photo source: SAAB les voitures du pays des trolls, Xavier Chauvin, ETAI)

Another time jump - November 1971:

The time of tense, adolescent dance classes. Each of these Thursdays was filled with nervous, curious and uncertain tingling, at least for me. Would I trample on the innocent feet of the dance partners, as has happened so often? Would I come up with charming-sounding compliments at the right moment?

I did not care about all this Thursday in November. For sure, I was the first person to come out of the hall after the dance class on this late afternoon. No, there was no subsequent date on the program. Rather, I could not wait to buy the new edition of the car, engine and sports, which will be released this Thursday. And this issue was especially exciting as the Saab 99 E was finally tested. Hardly any other title line than "Burgfrieden" could better express the outstanding performance of the Saab. The text of this unusually extensive test report for a foreign car, I soon mastered better than any boring data from the history book ...

The long way to the first own Saab:

Unfortunately I was quickly aware that my own Saab represents an unreachable faraway fantasy for me. Iron saving the pocket money would allow me at the earliest after 450 months to own a new 99. Illusory and discouraging!

But the alternative was 1973 ready in the form of a VW beetle. It was an 53 Ovali waiting for its restoration. Welding and other necessary work I had previously learned halfway, which were necessary for the subsequent two-year restoration.

Only - it was not Saab.

But the sparkling idea was not long in coming. The "Versaabung" of the beetle was decided thing. Four Saab head restraints were ordered for each 55 DM at Saab Germany in Nieder-Eschbach, the seat backs stiffened by additional shots.

The original shape of the Saab headrest - but only with the padded cushion insert comfortable and safe.
The original shape of the Saab headrest - but only with the padded cushion insert comfortable and safe.

I also used my welding skills to stabilize the doors and side panels with numerous steel braces, such as the Saab 99 prototype. If others were to impress their fellow humans with the sound of their engines - no other car came close to the locking sound of my beetle doors.

In addition to four at that time not self-evident automatic straps, the whole thing was crowned by the famous troll sticker: "Saab - made in Trollhättan". That had to be easy.

Only 1980 it was time: The first used Saab 96 was the start of a hitherto uninterrupted Saab passion. It was followed by two more 96, three 900 and one 9-5 to this day. ,

What an inconspicuous advertisement can not trigger everything ?!

8 thoughts on "How did I get to Saab?"

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    Hi John,

    yes, the bug still exists, is with a friend of mine, the beetle fan is. At least sometimes I am allowed to pat him with a tear in my eyes

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    My OStR for German / History also drove a Volvo, but the 240 in light blue. Only my chemistry teacher was already enthusiastic about turbo then and from him I learned for the first time that there is such a thing as a turbo lag. Unfortunately, he didn't own a 99 Turbo, but a Toyota Supra V6 Turbo, with which he tragically had a fatal accident a year after I graduated from high school…. ;-(

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    Gorgeous! This SAAB story is also in good spirits! THANKS!
    The topic of "safety" scored points with some SAABians….

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    Nice story! It's just interesting that, although the Saab 99 apparently impressed you so deeply, you apparently never owned this model ...


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    If I read that, do I have to share my Saab story here as well? It was similar for me, only without an advertisement ...

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      Saab stories are always welcome. There are still some in my mailbox, on Sunday comes a particularly long story. And on Monday I finally get to speak again

  • blank

    great report, exciting and informative. Amazing that almost processes take place in our heads to illustrate the Saabverbundenheit!
    Great, thank you

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    Great story! What happened to the Saab Beetle?

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