In the past, yes, the world was still fine. In most cases, you only had to choose between two options. When skiing between Alpine or Nordic, when on vacation between the sea or the Alps, when shopping between Coop or Migros. The inclined reader will notice, I'm from Switzerland - and, long before the first 4 × 4 drives, there was also a choice between rear-wheel or front-wheel drive.
Or more specifically between Volvo or Saab. Or an Alfa?
Either way, these three car brands still shape and shape my automotive life.
At the end of the XNUMXs, just when I could afford to buy my first car, I faced a difficult decision. A Volvo with rear wheel drive or a Saab with front wheel drive? Or maybe something more appropriate to my musical taste at the time, namely something racy from Italy. A snow-white Alfa Romeo Giulia or a blood-red Alfa Sprint Veloce?
The latter then answered itself more or less by looking more closely at the condition of the used cars on offer. It wasn't the snow falling quietly, but rather the red-brown plague, on the door sills, on the underbody, actually everywhere. And since my friend's Alfa Sud on snow had the behavior of a toboggan on ice, the issue was provisionally settled at my place of residence in Graubünden.
But I agree with Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, at some point in life a real man has to drive an Alfa. But that was already at the turn of the century and the Alfa Romeo 156 in Blu Tazio Nuvolari also went the way of many Italians, it changed the color to rust brown-red and at some point I could have studied the condition of the road surface up close between my legs.
But back to 1978 and the big question Volvo or Saab?
Well, I liked a used, sky blue Volvo 1800ES, but the price? Back then it was far too expensive for me. Such a brand new Snow White coffin cost more than a Porsche in the early 70s. And 20 francs for a used one was definitely too much for me. But I could also have imagined a Volvo Amazon or a Volvo 000 or 144 as a mobile pedestal, but just rear-wheel drive. And who wants to drive around with two concrete elements in the trunk and a sack of sand all winter, just so that he doesn't get stuck on every second slope?
So for me as a Nordic-oriented young man, only a Saab was actually an option. However, Saabs were not very common in Switzerland, and certainly not in Graubünden. I wouldn't be surprised if I even owned the first Saab in Graubünden.
As luck would have it, I took a look at the Occasion Volvos at a large Volvo dealer in the canton capital and there was a completely different car. A Saab 99 GL in orange, Pardon Indian Yellow. It wasn't just the color that made the car stand out from the crowd.
Not only was it different, it was more special, the hatchback of this combi-coupé immediately caught my eye. A station wagon that still came in chic and was more than pleasant to drive. Back then, CHF 7000 was a lot of money for me, but I never really regretted it.
Even though the vehicle had its quirks.
For example, I needed almost more fresh mufflers and pipes than some fresh underpants, but the fun factor on snow was second to none. I am afraid that there are still locals in Arosa, Davos or St. Moritz who remember with horror an orange Saab with a Graubünden number plate, which supposedly overtook them on snow-covered streets in a breakneck manner. In any case, nothing ever happened. The secret was simple, the very best winter tires, then Fulda Kristall, properly adjusted brakes and accelerating again at the right moment, or then pulling the tail with the handbrake.
Well, that was the first Saab, three more followed, and in addition to the Alfa 156 there was also a Snow White coffin.
Text and image: Gigi