Fiat, Volvo or Alfa? What a really convinced Saab driver drives.

I don't know now whether as a Saab driver with a Saab, no matter which model and which year, you cause a lot of attention among the common people. Except of course for connoisseurs, of course. I myself was lucky enough to drive two “non-Saabs” that caused a stir.

My Volvo P1800 ES
My Volvo P1800 ES

On the one hand a Volvo 1800 ES, better known as Snow White's coffin, and then one of the very first Alfa Romeo 156s in Switzerland, which at the beginning was admired by a whole bunch of interested people. I would like to briefly describe how it came about as a convinced Saab driver as well as advertising copywriter for Volvo, Subaru and Jaguar.

As it goes in life, one fine day the ways of the Volvo advertising agency and me parted, as well as those of my wife and thus my Saab 900 (which stayed with her). And suddenly I was without a car. And I confess that I cheated. And quickly bought a Fiat Uno.

A trolley that worked wonderfully as a city car for a few years and had no problems for 100 kilometers. Nothing at all, not even rust, except for the roebuck that I shot down with it. Of course, I also considered buying a Saab at the time, but Saab was already largely owned by GM back then and that stopped me from doing it.

And Volvo?

For a long time they only had rear-wheel drive, but let's discreetly disregard the 440, 460 and 480 models, and the new 850 was the first real Volvo with front-wheel drive, but too expensive for me in the situation at the time. And anyway, I should have driven a Subaru or a Jaguar. I would have got both as a company vehicle if I had wanted to, because in the meantime I was writing for these two car brands in another advertising agency. And that as a Fiat Uno driver!

Swedish beauty
Swedish beauty

To the great horror of both marketing departments

(At least I was able to drive a car, which could not be said of many of the well-known and successful car advertisers in Switzerland at the time.

So I was forever lost to Saab and Volvo? Not quite, because in the meantime I fell in love with a Volvo 1800 ES in gold metallic. Automatic machine, but with only 51 kilometers, air conditioning, automatic limited-slip differential and all the other extras that were available for this car at the time.

It caused a lot of sensation at the time
It caused a lot of sensation at the time

Of course, I only drove the Snow White coffin and the matching Snow White on weekends and during the holidays. And caused a sensation everywhere. Once two Italians circled the “Sweden Ferrari” and, after admiring the sleek silhouette, said: “Più bella di una donna.” More beautiful than a woman. We then agreed that it also depends on the woman.

Much to the delight of my company

The Volvo 1800 ES was a lot of fun to drive, but it didn't like hot weather or traffic jams at all and the cooling water began to evaporate in each case. That means that when there was a traffic jam on the motorway there was only one thing. Get out as quickly as possible, if necessary via the hard shoulder. Instead, the air conditioning (still with Freon!) Worked like a freezer and produced deciliters of condensation, which spilled over the feet of the driver or the passenger at every sharp bend.

The watch collection - a dream
The watch collection - a dream

But in the long run two cars in the increasingly car-hostile city of Zurich, where parking spaces in the city center cost a fortune? After a few years, I sold the Snow White's coffin just to be sensible. At least for the same price I paid for it six years ago. However, it would be worth twice as much today. And sometimes I still mourn him. But it seems to be in good hands, as I've seen “my” Volvo once or twice on the roadside in the meantime.

Still in original condition and not tinkered with

In addition, there was another offspring in the house. So a new car was needed. But what? From my point of view, Saab was practically Opel and Volvo was Ford. The Volvo V40 also contained a bit too much Mitsubishi. After a test drive, the new A-Class from Mercedes retired in the first sharp bend without the electronic helpers.

Gold Metallic looks very good on the P1800 ES
Gold Metallic looks very good on the P1800 ES

Now what?

Actually there was only one unfulfilled childhood love: Alfa Romeo. The new 156 with the hidden rear door handles so that the car looked like a two-door from the side, was love at first sight. And that in a heavenly light blue called Azzuro Tazio Nuvolari. The German motorsport postillas complained about the workmanship, the fabric cover and the interior, but at least admitted that a BMW 320, on the other hand, looked directly boring.

The Alfa was by no means boring. A simply great car, with a great engine, wonderfully finished, wonderful to drive and the fabric of the upholstery was almost like new after 155 kilometers. And at least at the beginning, up to two dozen passers-by stood around the parked car and admired the design and color.

Alfa 156 - Series 1
Alfa 156 - Series 1

Even worse, out of sheer admiration, one drove behind after only 3 kilometers. The new Alfa is so beautiful to look at that he forgot to brake! Fortunately, the damage wasn't too great and I was a proud Alfa driver for a couple of years.

And yes, Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear is right, once in a lifetime you have to drive an Alfa.

So everything is palette? Well, even an Alfa is only an Italian. Somehow they forgot to insist on rustproof the base plate. Soon the mobile pedestal was crumbling under my backside and little would have been missing that I could have studied the condition of the road surface up close between my legs.

So no chance to pass the motor vehicle inspection again (corresponds to the TÜV). Again a new car was needed. And since there was no longer any Alfa in the color Azzuro Tazio Nuvolari, they had to delete my name from the customer list in Turin. Otherwise, in light blue, who knows, I would probably drive an Alfa today.

And since Saab had broken away from GM in the meantime ...

Text: Gigi

Images: Gigi (5), FCA (1)

Text and pictures: Gigi

Previous parts:

Volvo or Saab or public transport?

Volvo or Saab, or Alfa Romeo?

Volvo, Saab or Volvo - copywriters at Volvo

Volvo 940, 960 or the new 850?

2 thoughts on "Fiat, Volvo or Alfa? What a really convinced Saab driver drives."

  • Shooting break

    Beautiful cars. I would also like to have owned an Alfa again. I hope the brand stays with us and comes back with a station wagon ...

    @ Aero-93,

    What are the known defects on the P1800ES?
    The technology is generally considered to be simple and reliable?
    Engines, transmissions and chassis components come from the shelves of the volume models of the time and the P1800 stands in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest mileage that a car has ever achieved ...

    @ Gigi,

    Thank you so much! I enjoyed reading again.

    PS (Shooting Break)
    Anyone who knows the origin does not read any further. This type of vehicle was invented by the British gentry together with coachbuilders. It was considered appropriate and sporty to go hunting in an Aston Martin, for example. And it was considered stylistically not to take the tea out of china and not at the table. So sports cars were converted to hold the picnic basket, 2 folding chairs for Lord & Lady and a table for the break (the shooting break) and to be able to stow them comfortably.
    Owning a shooting break was the maximum possible expression for being able to spend free time free from economic constraints and to be able to focus one's transport capacities solely on pleasure and enjoyment. What an image! ! !
    The manufacturers who produced such cars in series early on can still be counted by hand. The P1800ES is definitely a beautiful and special car.

  • Thanks to Gigi for the entertaining story. 2 undoubtedly wonderful “replacement cars” (instead of SAAB) stood there in the garage for a while. I didn't think that I would have to “suffer” SO with the ES 1800 ... But the cars were probably not so perfectly styled / constructed.
    The Snow White coffin has become rare, unfortunately. Despite the (known?) Defects a dream car.

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