Perhaps I’ve been extremely lucky with my used car purchases, but I regret selling every single one of them. I loved the solidity and quality of my old Audi 100 2.3-litre. I enjoyed my Nissan Primera GT P11 to bits – most notably its good engine and fantastic chassis. And now I regret selling my beloved Saab 9000 Aero a few months ago.
The Aero was replaced by a Volvo 850 R. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted with my “aaarrr”. It’s a fantastic car, and, in some crucial areas, better than the Aero. It’s just that I’m sentimental when it comes to cars, and that I miss some of its features, curiously a few of them intangible.
One of things I love best about my 850 is the colour. Turquioise isn’t the obvious choice when you’re going to buy a car, especially if it’s an old boxy Volvo. But the truth is, the colour suits the 850 very well, transforming what could be a boring saloon into a mildly striking car. Well, I suppose the 17-inch alloys and the ‘snowplough’ front spoiler also help.
Perversely, that attribute goes against my favourite feature of my old metallic dark green Aero – an ability to go unnoticed. It was a car that nearly everybody disregarded, but in the end you always ended up meeting someone who knew what you had and told you “nice car mate, don’t ever sell it”. The car had a certain gravitas, you drove it with a sense of pride, arrogance even. The 850 is far from being unsubstantial, but when somebody asks you at the traffic lights “where did you get your Volvo Max Powered?”, you know it’s not the same.
Another matter is the interior. I was a bit tired of the Aero’s black leather seats and black dashboard plastics. They made the atmosphere a bit sombre and if you sat in those leather seats on a typical Andalusian summer day, you could smell your thighs frying. The 850 has Alcantara/leather beige seats and they’re a lot more bearable, but you sense the interior hasn’t the same restrained elegance, especially with the R’s terrible IKEA birch wood.
By the way, those Aero seats were wonderful.
And the engine? Surely the best feature of any Saab. It seems that post ‘classic 900’ era Saab engineers worked from Monday to Friday morning on the engines and then they’d spend Friday afternoon designing the chassis, probably at the bar, in the middle of a happy hour. The gearboxes were conceived in the coffee breaks.
The B234R, on the other hand, was a magnificent engine, being powerful, reliable, quiet and relatively fuel efficient. And with forged internals, you could upgrade it to vast amounts of power without risk of seeing a conrod flying. As the 9000 isn’t too heavy, it lets you drive as a complete hooligan, or waft along smoothly, unleashing the power when necessary. The 850 engine isn’t bad at all, goes well enough, it’s more refined and sounds better, but…
I bought the 850 a year ago. The plan was to see if the 850 behaved properly, being more or less reliable, and if it passed the test, then sell the Aero. I would have loved to keep it, but I was worried about future expenses and, using public transport to go to the office from Monday to Friday, I didn’t need two big Swedish turbo saloons waiting to be used at weekends.
So a classified ad was put on the ’net. After some insulting offers from my fellow Spaniards, that demonstrated they knew next to nothing about Saabs, last April I received a email from a Finnish chap who was very interested. After some emails, 160 pictures of the car and dealing with the red tape, a agreement was reached. He flew to Malaga and drove the car home through Spain, France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden without problems. That’s the way to buy a car.
I’m very happy that ‘my’ old Aero now belongs to a Saab enthusiast, who plans to keep the car garaged in the winter and use it in summer. After owning it seven years I miss it, but I prefer to look forward; after all, having a R in the garage, I can’t really complain. And I’ve got money in my pocket to buy another car… (this is a very dangerous (but wonderful) position to be – ed).