Have You Ever Bought The Same Car Twice?

The picture above shows my old Saab 900.

It’s a fairly notable model in Saab’s history as it was made in late 1984 as one of the first 16-valve cars. I couldn’t confirm it, but a story told to me by someone around at the time was that it was actually one of the press cars bought into Australia at the time of the 16-valve’s introduction. Those cars were supposed to go back to Sweden but let’s just say that stock control in the mid-1980’s wasn’t what it is today. Some of the cars were sold and apparently this might have been one of them.

I sold the five years or so ago after a relatively short period of ownership. It had an intermittent problem that would see it just cut out and die for no apparent reason. I gave the car to my mechanic for a week and told him to drive as if it were his own car for the week. It never gave him a problem. A friend of mine had it for a couple of months while I drove a Subaru WRX. He had no problem with it, either. But it died on me several times, once on a 110km/h highway with a friend in the car on the way to the airport.

I couldn’t rely on the car and no-one could diagnose what was wrong with it. So I sold it.

That was five years ago and last Friday, I saw the car on the road in a suburb just south of Hobart. It’s still owned by the same guy I sold it to. We were heading down the same road so I ended up waiting just behind the car at a set of traffic lights. I turned off my radio, wound down the window and listened to that 3-inch exhaust amplifying the traditional Saab 16-valve burble. There’s not a sound in the motoring world that’s quite like it.

Saab900SandyBay

Tonight, coincidence or otherwise, the guy contacts me via social media asking to connect. I connected and sent him a short message about how I saw the car last week and I’m glad he’s still enjoying it, etc. I haven’t heard back from him yet.

What if…….

I know he’s put the car on the market once before. He had just replaced the engine, was asking too much and the car didn’t sell.

I don’t know how he found me via social media, but what if he’s interested in selling the car again and figured I might like to buy it?

Would I?

——

I’ve bought my own car back once before; my first Saab Turbo, a 1979 Saab 99 Turbo (built in December 78).

99TurboSW-1

I loved the car but I had a real crush on the Saab 900 model, so I sold the 99 and bought a 1986 Saab 900 Turbo. I remember having both the 99 and the 900 sitting out front of my house and thinking “what the hell am I doing?”. The 900 was a flash in the pan compared to the love I had for that 99 Turbo.

A few years passed and the 99T’s new owner eventually needed to get something more modern. He’d put a new exhaust on it, a second-hand gearbox and a new windscreen. The price was very right, so I jumped at the offer to buy it back.

I drove that car for another two or three years until the gearbox gave out. I enjoyed every minute of it and have actually tried to buy the car for a third time (or it’s pigeon pair brother, both now owned by a friend who doesn’t want to sell).

There was something very special about that car. It would need a hell of a lot of work but it’s still one that I would like to own again, even now.

——

The 900?

I didn’t have great experiences with that car because of the intermittent narcolepsy issue. I recognise how much of a classic model it is, but I don’t have anywhere near the connection with that car as I had with the 99.

Thankfully, I had a wonderful 900 when I was living in Sweden. It cemented my love for the 900 model. I’d respected the model previously, but I hadn’t had an experience that led me to love it.

This whole article is theoretical, of course. The owner contacting me could just be because that’s what you do on social media – contact people. But seeing the car last week and having him contact me today did make me pose the question to myself: would I buy it back if he offered?

I’d certainly take a look at it. I’m much less certain that I’d be tempted to go back there, though, even if a flat-nose 16V is a relatively rare beast.

——

Have you ever bought back one of your old cars?

What was it, and what made you do it?

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22 Comments

  1. Never bought my OWN car before. However, i have bought the same exact make, model, year, colour of a car i used to own (Red 1999 Seat Ibiza Gti). To be honest, i would but it again if i had the spare cash lying around. It was and still is, the only car i ever driven were it just felt…right, from every possible aspect. The way it handles, the power, the looks, the way it speaks to you, makes you feel (that endless grin on my face, which i have right now writing about it), not to mention the memories that come along with it. It’s that first true love, the one that got away…..

    1. I think that’s part of the romance of cars, Joe – the ability for a familiar car to trigger good memories. Even the smell of a Saab 99 puts a smile on my face.

      Sometimes a car just ‘fits’ you.

  2. I haven’t, but I have two friends who’ve flipped a 944 back and forth every few years for over a decade. The first sale was normal, but every subsequent one was due to a change of circumstances: one guy has a baby, sells the car back to the previous owner, who loses his storage space a few years later and sells it back, until the second guy’s wife wants it back, and so forth. I’m not even sure that money changes hands anymore.

  3. As a family we did. A few years back I traded Sue’s 9000 Aero to Seth Wonkka who had come by a 2002 9-5 wagon that needed an engine. We sill have the 9-5. As Seth does, he kept the 9000 a few weeks and traded it to someone for, I believe, a Honda CB750 (oldie). About a year later, Pascal saw the Aero on craigslist (and knew it was the same car from the Swedish front license plate we’d always had on the front) and bought it. Kept it until he was t-boned by someone running a stop sign while at university. That was a car, despite some headaches, worth owning twice.

  4. I had a 1993 Proton GLE as my first car. 1.6 litres of unmolested awesome. The bonnet latch broke so the bonnet was tied down with some hardy twine. It would flap around when you finally reached the maximum speed of an actually-rather-impressive 90mph. I had it fixed eventually. It was a car without social boundaries – people thought it was equally hilarious wherever I went. If I still lived in the UK and had a spare 30 quid laying about I’d buy it back now, for sure. Unfortunately, it was crushed – with about 20 quid of spare change in it.

  5. I bought a 99 EMS in November ’87 (my first Saab) sold it in June 1990. I went overseas for a year, came back and bought the same model/colour/year Saab again which I ended up owning for 4 years.
    The first car was the better looker, but had been serviced (it seems) by an old German mechanic by the name of Rufus Gutz. My first Saab experience was quite expensive but I still loved the car. The second EMS didn’t look as pretty but had much less mechanical headaches. Anyway that was the closest I’ve got to owning the same car twice.

    I know what it’s like to have intermittent ignition problems. My Monte Carlo had something similar for over a year and it made me very uncomfortable driving it. It would die unexpectedly sometimes 3 times in a week and then might be fine for a month or so. I suspected the DI cassette but everyone said that they either die completely or you end up firing on 3 cylinders. After consulting 2 mechanics and 3 auto electricians it was determined that the DI cassette was intermittent. In the meantime I had replaced a crank angle sensor and even the ECU to no avail. I did take the opportunity however to put in a BSR stage 1 ECU as a replacement. Anyway in future I’ll trust my own instincts.

    I have owned my Monte for six years this month. I like the car, but that ignition problem and the $3000+ I had to spend fixing the firewall/bulkhead cracks has prevented me from totally loving it. The car I liked the most was a C900 3 door turbo (two tone) which I owned for almost ten years. I still miss that car. It had great character and always seemed to warn me when something was about to go wrong. I will probably sell the Monte Carlo next year. I only ever planned to keep it six or seven years. Not sure what I’ll replace it with, but I’ll probably have a break from Saabs for a while. My friends can’t believe I’m now actually contemplating not owning a Saab!

  6. Sounds like a great idea to me. You have the whole world of Saab available to you. I think it unlikely that you could have a problem with the 900 that some Saab owner past or current hasn’t posted on before and wouldn’t love to advise or inform you about the details. I sometimes look at the 900s available in the USA, but I can’t tolerate a dead battery. I haven’t had a single question about my 9-3s that hasn’t been posted online. I’m sorta like NASA, I have zero tolerance for transportation problems. Call it a life or death situation.

  7. No, I haven’t bought my own car back. But I regret not doing so, when I saw my first car (a polar white 1966 Saab 95 twostroke) rotting away on a car park.
    I still want one of those, but there are not many left. So at the moment I have got almost that (a polar white 1969 Saab 95 V4). 🙂

  8. My first car was a Renault 12. We came SO close to buying another one, in yellow, fifteen years later. But pulled out on the door step on the night we were to pick up the car. Stage fright? Nostalgia?Possibly. Good decision in the end though, given how many times I pulled the original blue car apart.

    Done it again though, with the BM. My first ‘real car’ was an E21 320i in silver, the four cylinder ‘wersion’ on blue check cloth. Fully rebuilt by the previous owner, new paint, reco engine, like new. But better. I LOVED that car. I was 22. It went everywhere, including the local tip, where it had to be lifted out by four big guys ‘cos it was so low it grounded out on a submerged tree. I tracked it-it ate Alfas for breakfast at Winton, Calder and Sandown. It had the full Koni kit and Simmons 3 piece racing wheels. and a Massive but rather classy stereo system that would flatten the battery in 30 mins. Blaupunkt… there is no substitute. It was The Best E21 in the country.

    So, now the silver on blue 323i E21 sitting in the driveway beckons. I bought it last year, full of nostalgia, after my 9-5 Aero got smashed up and crushed. Still not over it a year later.(interesting court case development on that one this week). I was bored and needed some automotive therapy, and bought the 323i. THIS was the car I had always hankered after! Straight six 2.3Litre, lightweight, rear driver, semi trailing arm suspension sitting on Bilstein yellows, classy great looking shark-nosed thing it is. This car needs rebirthing, and an auto to manual box conversion too. It smells the SAME as my 320i did back in 1985. It looks the same, except it has those fabulous original spec turbine alloys. And some clot has installed stupid speakers in the doors and rear parcel shelf. What were they thinking? Aargh!

    But I I am now questioning my ‘love’ for the car and if I put it up for sale or not. A manual 323i is one of the truly driver orientated cars of the last 50 years. It deserves to be ‘done-up’ and liberated from its slush-box. I suppose the good thing is the engine is unthrashed because of it. I do all my own work, body and mechanicals, but do I want to get messy again?

    Dunno…

  9. It is a shame you had to let that car go, but it seems you had no choice. In my view the flat-nosed 900 has a much better-looking profile than the facelifted, slant-nosed version. The latter overhangs too much at the front, whereas the former is more akin to the 99, with a short front and long rear giving it grace.

    On the other hand, the post-87 slant-nosed 900 perhaps has a tidier and smarter nose (grille, etc) when looked at from the front when compared with the early post-78 models.

    That said, I am torn as to whether that means the smartness of the post-87 one is actually just blandness (so typical of the late 80s and early 90s) in comparison with the less neat but characterful early grille. Hmmm…

  10. Absolutely. After I donated my million mile SPG I contemplated what to do next and I had no reservations thinking 9-5 Combi. This was the perfect choice of performance and functionality. I found a 1999 one that was eligible for a new engine under the sludge warranty. I spent an extra $1,000 to have new hoses, belts and have the transmission completely drained seeing that the engine was out.

    A few days later after driving this baby home my mobile rang and it was Jay Spencian asking me what model and color SAAB I wanted. Well I wanted a 2007 9-5 Combi and Jay told me that it had to be the Aero with the full viability package.

    I contacted a client of mine who was looking for a SAAB and I sold it to him on condition that if he ever wanted to sell it that he gave me first dibs. This owner was fastidious and a year later he called me because after storing it indoors at his business he did not want it any longer.

    He bought a new battery, tires and brakes so I bought it back for the same price as the car was even better and now my daughter owns the car which I will be seeing right after the SAAB Convention in Albany, NY this week.

  11. Can’t remember i have actually seen one of these intact since i was in my late teens and thats 20+ year ago. It was a strange bird even then and the only one i remember well was one exactly like it parked outside where i worked at the time. With all its plastic cosmetics it is still probably the most avantgarde car i ever seen even if i did not understand that then. It’s profile is like nothing else. Also i cant remember seeing one in good condition since then, or seen one at all since the mid 90’s. And i live in sweden.

  12. If I give in to the dark side and buy another Jeep Wagoneer, it’ll be my third.

    Empirically, they’re crap cars, but they’re like nothing else. I mean, what other 30 year old SUV will get you a prime valet parking space in Santa Monica, then take you skiing, then take you to campground 20 miles from nearest paved road?

    Not. Bloody. Many.

    So, I’ll be having another.

  13. Yup. Bought a new 2001 9-3 SE. A hurricane took it in 2003 (Saab’s don’t like salt water up to the windshield). I just drove my Ford pickup for a couple years, but I missed that Saab. Found a 1999 9-3 SE and still have it.

    I like the 99-02 9-3s for the “newest” hatch experience. With the miles now on mine, I’m pondering looking for a third. They are relatively cheap, & fun enough for me.

  14. Hey … Been there myself
    Owned a 1993 caterham 7 I loved. But the need to do some form of Motorsport was greater and I could not bare to butcher my 7 to do a rally or other event , so sold it to someone who would love it like me.
    I bought a type 25 Elise
    The other person had children so sold the caterham …. To someone who then onsold again …. It fell into the hands of someone wanting to turn it into a track based 7 …. Not in this life time buddy …so when I found out I just had to buy it back … Of course a quick retrenchment later and I had to sell again …
    I’d be very happy to buy that 7 back again someday ….

  15. I have not bought back the same car, but I have bought back the same make/model, although one model year newer and two trim levels higher. I would love to have bought back the exact same truck, but it is now in the Dallas area and I am in Southwest Florida. Not sure how it got out to Dallas, but I looked up the VIN recently and saw it was there.

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