Saab Pride of Ownership entry – Michigan Style

Now here’s a wintry entry to the TS Pride of Ownership Competition.

This one comes to us from Wulf, owner of the SaabMedia.net website and archive.

I’d like to thank Wulf for going to the trouble of getting out and taking these shots in what looks like some pretty cold conditions. Brilliant effort!

Click the photos to enlarge – and enjoy.

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It took me a while to send in my entry because the closest landmark is about 1 1/2 hours away from my home in Michigan, USA. There is no possibility of a clean car in a sunny background for at least another 5 months so snow, cold and grey skies is as good as it gets. It is an environment the Saab feels at home though and I get plenty of use out of the heated seats, traction control, ABS, headlight wipers and excellent head lights.

The landmark

The background shows the Mackinac Bridge which connects the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. It is also affectionately known as the Mighty Mac or Big Mac.

Saab 9-5

It is the third longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the world and was opened for traffic in 1957. The total length is 5 miles / 8 kilometers and the suspension part itself is 1.6 miles / 2.6 km. The road is about 200 ft above the lake and it is quite an impressive view from there. Residents of the Upper Peninsula (“Yoopers”) often refer to Lower Peninsula residents as “Trolls” because they live “below the bridge.” Five workers died during construction of the bridge. Some of their bodies are embedded in the concrete because it was too difficult to get them out. Just kidding, that is just some folklore.

Saab 9-5

It can be quite challenging to cross on a windy day. In 1989 with gale force winds, a woman driving her Yugo was blown off the bridge and plunged to her death into the lake below. One year later, the railing was raised from 36 to 48 inches. Hundreds of drivers each year rely on bridge personnel to drive their car across the bridge because of fear of high places. From personal experience, I often get a big knot in my stomach when crossing on my motorcycle. They sometimes close the right lane for maintenance and the left lane is mostly metal grates (for ease of snow removal). I tell ya, seeing the water at a great distance just below your feet through a couple of inches of metal grates is a fun experience. There is too much interesting stuff to tell about this bridge so it is best to do a search if you want to more.

The car

My current Saab was purchased in July of this year. I was looking for a combination of features, interior/exterior color, year, miles and price and found this 2001 Sun Green 9-5 2.3t with 82K miles for $8,000 at a small independent dealer in Fort Myers, Florida. These used 9-5s are such a great deal as it cost more than $40,000 in 2001. From my previous experience with the European Delivery Program before, nothing is better to pick up your Saab from a far away place and drive it home. One of the other advantages of a Florida car is that it has never been exposed to road salt so it is 100% rust free.

Saab 9-5

She has 92K miles on it now and is running strong after some preventative maintenance, turbo replacement, oil sump cleaning and new tires. There are no modifications besides the addition of an original Swedish front plate as there is no front license plate required in Michigan. I tried some 17″ wheels (in one of the pictures) but found they made the ride too rough and harsh so I switched back to the 16″ SE wheels. The softer, higher suspension was also one of the reasons I didn’t want the Aero model.

One of my favorite features is the interior. The previous owner apparently had a timber fetish because a wood steering wheel, shift knob and door handles were fitted in addition to the standard wooden dash. Together with the ventilated and heated leather seats, it’s a warm (or cool) and comforting place to spend time driving over snowy, icy roads in Michigan or cruising along the hot and humid Florida coastline.

Saab 9-5

I always enjoy the small details that makes a car different from the rest. Front side lights that come on in reverse, weather band on the radio, ventilated seats, headlight wipers, night panel, rear wiper automatically comes on in reverse when front wipers are on etc etc. Unfortunately, some of these features have been eliminated in later models over the years. I know some people probably feel sad for me that I am driving a boring, old station wagon but I am smiling every time I turn that key and enjoy the Saabness of this beautiful piece of machinery.

I also included some summer pictures to show the car when it was clean. Two of them were taken with Lake Superior and Lake Michigan in the background and the other one was taken in Florida on the day I picked her up. This is my 3rd Saab in 2 years (long story, I like change..) and I could keep on writing for a while. Much more pictures of this 9-5 (some interesting ones in Detroit) and my 9-3s can be found here.

Cheers, Frank (a.k.a. Wulf)

Saab 9-5

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7 Comments

  1. love the photos, the first two are my favorites. the second brings me chills. truly looks like challenging weather out there. you have the right car for it!

  2. Our oldest son was born in the UP — Iron Michigan. We crossed that bridge a buzillion times coming home from college over the years. And you’re right about the wind making crossing difficult. I did it in a full size conversion van which was quite interesting to say the least. Maybe some day I’ll have th opportunity of driving a 9-5 wagon across. Some day.

  3. There are a few different ways to measure the length of a suspension bridge: center span, between anchorages and total length including the other parts of leading up to the span. When it comes to the main span, it is indeed number 10 in the world. However, it is number 3 when you consider in between anchorages. Small details but it is a big bridge either way.

    Many Yoopers are descendants from Finnish immigrants so they should be used to the cold and snow. It’s an interesting and quiet place to visit.

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