We’ve been following Ryan and Caroline F across the United States for the last week. They made a dream purchase last weekend in California – a 1994 Saab 900 Convertible, the last of the line. The purchase presented a small challenge in that they live in Boston, in the north-east, whereas the car was down in the south-west.
Prior to this entry, we’ve seen them make the purchase and plan the trip, pick up the car in LA, and from there they headed east through California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado.
They’re home in Boston now, and this is the final instalment from their trip. Thanks Ryan!
What a trip…this has been something that we’ve only dreamed of in the past and it’s been an amazing adventure to say the least.
After the last national park stop, we began the drive through Kansas. The route turned from winding scenic mountain roads to the straight and flat variety. Here, there was less of the spectacular scenery (when compared to the first half of the trip, at least) and the star of the journey was the car. With the speed limit recently bumped up to 75 mph on Interstate 70 in Kansas, we got a chance to really open it up. Even with all the gear on board, the car seemed to love the open highway cruising speeds. Here, it was more about the journey than the destinations.
The stops in Great Bend, Kansas, St. Louis, Columbus, and Niagara Falls were all in hotels rather than camping (it was time for hot showers and real beds). In St. Louis, we learned that not all valet parking attendants know how to drive a stick, as we were picking up the car and the attendant’s way of parking it in front of us was by letting it stall out in first gear.
The highlight of this segment of the trip was a stop for lunch with fellow Saabers outside of Cleveland. We met up with Bam, who has a Turbo X and a modified Viggen (who thinks she also needs a SPG next?!) and were also joined by Ted Y. (Saabyurk from the comments section), who has a 9-3ss and four 96s at home.
We were moved by the fact that after reading about the trip on Inside Saab, Ted came out of his way to meet up with us, if only for 10 minutes, to say hello, wish us well on our journey, and to give us a present for the new-to-us car: a set of Saab Valve Stem Caps! This was an incredibly kind gesture and we thank him for that – the caps are on the car and look great! We wish him all the best and look forward to seeing his 96s in the future.
We got home yesterday and unloaded the car, and fully realized just how much gear we had accumulated in there. Full suitcases with clothes. Sleeping bags and tent/camping gear. Food, water, spare fluids for the car. Tools. A tonneau cover sitting on the back seat. Backpacks, camera gear, and more.
After unpacking, we took some time to relax and then met up with some friends for an informal welcome back/Saab meetup across the street from Charles River Saab. Here, we met up with Coggs in his Sonett, Luke D. Lewis in his OG 9-3, Abigail and Peter Coyle in one of their 9000 Aeros, Seth Wonkka (from CRS) and his girlfriend Karen in Seth’s new to him 900s (can’t wait to see what he does with this one…), Michi + Jaime Oe-Medieros, with daughter Sofia in their 9-3ss. And sure enough, another Saaber, Charlie B., saw the Saabs gathered together and decided to come say “hi” and join us for a bit. It was a warm welcome home, and we had a great time chatting about past trips, the open road, and in general, poking fun of Luke as he proceeded to jack up his car in the parking lot to ensure that his muffler wasn’t falling off again.
Aside from the passenger side window switch going out (which we attribute to me poking around at the switches, as it worked at the beginning of the trip) we didn’t have a single mechanical issue. No dead batteries, no overheating, no transmission issues, no fuel pumps dying….nothing. While I wouldn’t say that I was expecting anything to happen, when driving an old car, you absolutely have to be prepared for different scenarios of what could go wrong (it doesn’t hurt to lower expectations and over-deliver).
But when you go through 3,600 miles across the US, through some of the hottest temperatures this summer, with lots of steep elevation changes, and a few of the roughest roads out there…you can’t help but say “what a car!” You look back at the photos of the car in front of the Grand Canyon, Great Sand Dunes and the other amazing backdrops …. and you realize, this car took us there. And ALL of our gear. In comfort, with AC, stereo…… oh and it’s a convertible!?
The icing on the cake was that after crunching the numbers and pricing out how much it would have been to rent a convertible on a one way trip across the country, it was cheaper to buy the c900 – and at the end of the trip, you get to keep the car!
These pictures speak a thousand words. Here is a car, manufactured by Saab 17 years ago, from a 25+ year old design put in production and first sold in the year I was born. The conclusion of my trip today is a testament to the brand and the factory workers, and it goes without saying that we look forward to seeing what comes next from Trollhattan.
It’s been a once in a lifetime experience…thanks for coming along with us on this trip! We looking forward to continuing to meet other Saabers and we hope that others make use of the opportunities to get out and find their own road.
And some more pics……
Saab 900 Convertible stopping for a refreshment break in Kansas:
At lunch with some Cleveland Saabers:
Ryan and Ted Y:
Which one’s more spectacular? The Convertible or Niagara Falls? Fair question….
All the gear carried across the country, in a convertible, with no problems. Outstanding!
Another shot of the welcome party…..
And a special bonus, for those who think there are no Saab 9-5’s out in the wild. Spotted and photographed by Caroline.