59 Buick LaSabre (generic pic)
Ever driven a Saab? Well I had, once, years ago. It was wonderful, so wonderful that last year, a few weeks before hurricane Irene hit, I bought a new(new for me) used one.
I was so excited. Imagine me, a Saab owner. The whole idea was exhilarating. Downshifting into the corners. I imagined the Westport roads to be the Black Forest and the Merritt Parkway to be the Autobahn or the Autostrada(highway in Italy).
Some of my friends tried to talk me out of it, “It’s kind of an older model, what happens when you need expensive repairs?” they said.
Why were they trying to talk me out of it? Maybe they weren’t really my friends. “I can do all the work myself,” was my response.
My very first car(generic pic)
After all, I have owned and repaired many exotic vehicles: 73 Beetle–my first car–was a little rusted and didn’t last long. Then I got my first muscle car–a red 64 Cutlas Supreme, blew the engine after a month and sold it for scrap or paid them to take it way. My 59 Buick Lasabre was the ultimate in style–glorious wings–that car never worked but I worked on it in my Mother’s garage for over a year before selling it off to the demolition derby. The 54 Ford F-350 ran great. It had a Thunderbird motor and was an absolute mammoth, sold that to a friend, then bought it back, never worked right for me but was very cool to look at, sold it back. Volkswagon Dasher had a detached rear axle but soldiered on. Chevy Van—nuther story.
Iv’e owned and operated five or six motorcycles including my Moto Morini. That was killer but it had a dry racing clutch, at every stop light it would stall. I hadn’t much experience with vintage Italian racing bikes at that point. To be honest that bike was a little scary.
My 54 Ford was much cleaner
Finally, I settled into my Nissan pick up. That served me well. It wasn’t very sexy however, ooh–the modifications I did to that vehicle made it wholly un-recognizable.
It started off shiny black but I wanted it green like a park ranger’s vehicle, we painted it with special enamel paint. Problem was the green color I chose wasn’t like the paint chip and it turned out the strangest light green/blue anyone has ever seen.
So I continued with the modifications. The Japanese carburetor wasn’t working, it did this herky jerky thing every couple miles, totally annoying. So I decided to order an Italian carburetor and a custom built racing head(I had ruined the head(top half of the engine) while diagnosing the problem) and installed all that, only took nine months to rebuild the engine. My friend Greg actually got it working but I did all the work.
Moto Morini (generic pic)
When I finally rolled into Los Angeles with that truck it looked like something out of a Mad Max movie, flat black(rustoleum). In fact, I got paid just to have it on the set of a couple movies. I loved that truck, for some reason the engine exploded on the 405 freeway and it was time for my new LA ride. My 79 Beamer 320i. When I bought it at the used car lot near Venice Beach the honest salesman said, “your buying a dream,” that made me a little suspicious. My love for European performance was kindled even though the shocks or struts were so shot that it felt like it was galloping through Topanga Canyon.
64 Cutlas(generic pic)
Back to the Saab—I owned it—it worked. Then hurricane Irene hit. I was checking on properties at the beach and downtown. I was at Old Mill Beach at 10am the morning of the storm. Mine was the last car out of the parking lot as everyone else had evacuated. Water started rushing over the the lot, rolling surf over the whole Old Mill area. Time to leave…I hopped in my new car and sped toward downtown, making a left on Hillspoint, total mistake. Soundview drive at the height of the storm surge. Huge waves were pounding the seawall and thousands of gallons of saltwater were flying into the air and crashing down upon us(me and the car). There was a huge puddle and I raced right into it. Then I couldn’t see. Then another crashing wave. I had to get downtown to check on the sand bags at Bobby Q’s. The engine started sputtering. The light went on(engine light). OMG I had no choice but to gun it. The car roared back to life. Then I could see again, I was traveling through water(sea water), lots of it.
After the storm was over, none of the property owners were happy with me. WTF, I’m not God, I had done everything in my power to hold back the storm—but—everything was damaged. The Saab also, never worked right since.
Saab (generic pic)
I have spent the last year studying up on Saabs, apparently they are of the hardest of cars to work on. How hard could it be? It’s just a car! Take the alternator—just swap it out, right? Wrong. You have to drop the exhaust system and and some other parts just to get at it. I can’t even see the alternator. I would crawl under the car the to check out the sitch but no–it’s so low to the ground a human can’t fit.
To make a long story shorter—this week I found a mechanic that I trust. I don’t know why I trust him, I just do. Today I drop it off. He has worked on Saabs exclusively for 20 years. I am hoping and praying all will be well. Later this this week I get my baby back. There are car Gods and I have learned humility before them. You would think that because some of my friends are expert mechanics some of their skills would rub off, no skills don’t rub off. I wish I was a race car mechanic but I’m not.