Saab convertible drivers weather the storm, top down

Consumer Reports News: March 26, 2009 02:35 PM

The results of my latest unscientific motoring survey are in, and they’re pretty interesting--at least to me.

But first, some clarification. My so-called surveys are not to be confused with the highly regarded, scientific studies Consumer Reports is known for, run by the esteemed professionals in our National Research Center.

No, mine are conducted by making observations along a randomly selected group of roads I like to call my daily commute. In the interest of science, I sometimes include a trip to the grocery store on the way home.

That said, on to the results:

Saab convertible owners seem to spend more of their time cruising with their tops down than drivers of other ragtops, especially in the early days of spring here in the northeast. A sunny day with temperatures in the 40s will find Saabophiles motoring happily along with the wind in their woollies and tuques, presumably with heated seats and capable Swedish heaters cranked all the way up. It’s as if their cars’ Nordic roots have rubbed off on them.

Drivers of convertibles from other makes often seem to be seeking more of a sense of style than seeking to engage their own senses, and prefer to motor around with tops and windows sealed shut.

You have to admire the Saab owners’ carefree spirits, even as their chosen marque faces an uncertain future. Both parent company General Motors and the Swedish government have ruled out helping to save the carmaker, although GM has pledged to share technology with the company for five years--assuming either of the two are around to share anything.

Maybe it’s just as well that GM has lost interest or funding to keep Saab going. Saabs, much like their owners, have always been a bit quirky. That quirkiness, along with innovative engineering that included early adaptation of front-wheel drive, turbocharged engines, and emphasis on designing for safety, was always part of the Saab appeal. And both the quirkiness and the engineering have been watered down since the General stepped in.

Perhaps if the brand can be sold to investors who put a priority on bringing back some of that innovative spirit and distinctive personality, there’s a future for Saab.

Time will tell. For now, ride on, Saab fans. And keep the top down or moonroof open, whatever the future brings.

--Jim Travers

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