More on the Million-Mile Saab

I covered Peter Gilbert’s million-mile 900 SPG (that’s an Aero to the rest of us) back when the Saab Owner’s Convention was on in August. I saw a headline about it on my RSS feed yesterday and shrugged it off thinking it was some news service being lazy and recycling an old story.

My mistake.

The story in JS Online is a more in-depth look at the car’s journey and Peter’s thoughts about it.

Not long after his divorce, Peter Gilbert treated himself to a new sports car – a Saab 900 SPG, which stands for Special Performance Group.

Seventeen years and more than 1 million miles later, Gilbert donated his car to the Wisconsin Automotive Museum. The car survived eight deer collisions, including one that punched a hole in the radiator, before it was parked for safekeeping at the museum in Hartford.

We didn’t get this line in the original press release:

“I couldn’t kill that many deer with a gun,” said Gilbert

The story tells a little about the car’s history as a daily driver racking up some long miles, some performance highlights and some maintenance thoughts for getting yours to be a high-mileage car.

The interesting part, for me, was the lead-up to the millionth mile, which was timed for the Owner’s Convention…

For Gilbert, turning over the car’s keys to the museum was like putting an elderly family member in a nursing home.

“But I know where the car is, and I can visit,” he said. “And before I took her to the museum, I had a full detail job done. She was like a bride getting ready for her wedding. It was the first time that her carpets were thoroughly cleaned in 17 years.”

Saab showed some interest in the car and videotaped it when the odometer rolled over the 1-million-mile mark, at a Saab owners’ convention in Lake George, N.Y., in August.

Saab executives rode in the car and discussed putting it in their museum in Sweden. Gilbert hoped they would give him a new car, as a replacement, but he didn’t get so much as a T-shirt from Saab.

“I am a little disappointed in them,” he said.

There’s a tangent in there somewhere, isn’t there? It’s so tempting but this is supposed to be about the SPG – right?

Ah, screw it – Saab USA should have given him something other than a handshake and a photo. It’s certainly not new-car-worthy but why not use it for more publicity and then fly him down to Road Atlanta for the Aero Academy or something.

And if I can play devil’s advocate for a moment, they did supply him with a car that lasted a million miles….

Anyway, squabbling aside – it’s a great read and a more substantial insight into the car and it’s journey than initial press release story. Highly recommended.


Thanks to Biran, Jim and Kevin for filling my inbox with this story this morning 😉

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  1. I saw Peter and his car at the SOC this year. It’s a great story. I even have a picture of the car next to the Aero X.

    Maybe they should have given something for the car, maybe not. But I think Peter’s expectations were also a little out of line with what was possible.

  2. Peter actually paid for the car, and the cost of the car which was probably 2-3 times the initial purchase price over that many miles.

    I want to know what the total of his receipts were from and including the purchase price of the car to everything he has used for that car including insurance and gas since then.

  3. From the article, good endorsement of how tough Saab engines are:

    He replaced the car’s transmission at about 200,000 miles, but beyond that the engine was hardly touched.
    “I knew someone who put 2.5 million miles on a Volvo, but the engine was rebuilt several times,” Gilbert said.

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