Following are photos and comments by 1985 Gripen, who attended the Saab USA 60th Anniversary press event, which included not only a drive in the new 60th Anniversary Edition Saabs, but a drive of some pristine old school Saabs from GM’s own Heritage Collection.
Click photos to enlarge.
John Libbos instructing a guest on the finer points of driving the Sonett. The car seems to be grinning at me. Reminds me of that old “Speed Buggy” cartoon by Hanna-Barbera.
“How beautiful!” The Sonett 1. Truthfully, this is my favorite of the Sonett series. This car looks like something James Dean would have driven. A true “sports car”. Note the gear shift to the right of the steering wheel.
Love that badging. Remember, this is one example of only six ever made!
A better shot of the Sonett with the hood open.
In the 9-5 SportCombi is Bob Sinclair, who stole it from under Erik’s and my nose. Erik really wanted to drive that one back to the hotel. We ended up in a 9-5 sedan, which Erik seemed okay with. He wanted the Combi because it has an automatic transmission whereas the Sedan I drove back was a manual box. Maybe I’m a really bad manual driver?
Erik did tell me repeatedly that he prefers the automatic transmission. There was one point on the drive to the airfield where we had to stop on an upward grade in a line of cars due to some road construction. The gentleman driving a pickup truck behind me stopped pretty close behind, so I realized I couldn’t roll back too much when the traffic started moving again.
I revved the car a little too high before letting off the clutch to avoid rolling back and we took off with a slight jerk. I apologized to Erik, explaining that I wanted to avoid rolling into the gentleman behind us and he said, “You’re such a polite boy”. I didn’t know whether to take this as a compliment or an insult. Seriously, he is very complimentary, and often complimented me on my driving. He said a sign of a good driver is one who doesn’t have to brake too much
Bob Sinclair discussing something with Dick Balzer (the guy in charge of the heritage cars). Bob really seemed to like the Sonett. He spent a little time doing laps in it alone.
Bob Sinclair being driven by a guest in the Sonett. He’s explaining to her that the gear shift is to the left of the steering wheel. It’s a four-speed gearbox in a standard “H”-shape shift pattern. I had a heck of a time trying to photograph the wheels on this car due to reflection!
I was trying to figure out how to fit one of those SAAB tents in the background in my pocket. That would be the ultimate accessory for my driveway for when I’m working on my car!