Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

A while back I wrote about my 1975 Saab 99 Wagonback. Well, it's time for an update and I'm afraid the news is not good. While the Saab had been a serviceable second car and much-valued conversation piece under my care, this last year had not been good to it. It started with an oil leak. Then, a cooling fan problem that ended with some stripped thermostat housing threads.

Finally, in an act of brazen disregard for all that is rare and irreplaceable, someone broke out the back window (Seriously, the 99 is a pretty uncommon model to begin with, the Wagonback version even more so). Instantly what had been a manageable oddity was transformed into a liability. The window had to be replaced. That meant some combination of time and money on my part. If I didn't attend to it the Columbus code enforcement agents would cite me for having a derelict vehicle on my property (Never mind the the fact that the landlocked SS WTF sat for months across the alley from my house. My luck doesn't run like that. If me and ten other people speed, fail to signal a lane change, or violate some arcane city code, I'll be the one that gets cited. That's how it's always been. I'm used to it).

Oh, I managed to buy a little time by covering the wound with a tarp, but with the expiration date on the tags drawing closer, I knew it was the end of the line. This was one set of plates that wouldn't be renewed. I spent the last couple of weeks contacting the handful of people in town I knew that might be interested in a 35 year old Saab. I was hoping to find a good home for it. The fact is a car like that is valuable to someone. Parts are hard to find, and there was enough left of this car to probably make it worth someone's while (The "soccer ball" wheels alone could have probably fetched a decent return if I'd had the patience and resources to start parting it out). The trick is finding that someone.

In the end, no one was interested. Two days after the tags expired the tow company came to take the Wagonback on it's final journey. The driver counted out my money on the hood of the Saab as a single tear rolled down my cheek (OK. I made the part up about the tear, but it was a poignant moment). I was struck by how the money changed hands. It was all cash; crisp twenties and no receipt. It felt like blood money. Fortunately it all spends the same.

And now it's fall. Sometime in the next week or two - as the cool wind blows and this season's leaves whip in circles around the newly vacant parking spot behind my house - I'll scrape up the last of the oil and sweep away the four tire-shaped piles of pine leaves and dirt that remain; like a shadow, like a footprint. Then, it will be gone.


  1. As a guy who had a couple of old Volvos, and misses having one, you have my condolences. There's a shop on the east side, Lance's Imports, that I would have steered your towards. He may have been interested in parting it out.

  2. It's always sad when you've got to put a beloved vehicle out to pasture. It always feels like the cars deserve a better fate than they get. It's too bad that local miscreants forced your hand on it's fate.