Racing In The Street

I mean, come on. I don’t do this stuff any more. Seriously. But if I did, I’d do it in this. I got it two months ago, after the kiss-off present someone gave me finally went to the Big Breakers Yard In The Sky. Assuming they still have breakers’ yards. I only know one now. There used to be loads of them, even one just outside Bath, with piles of cars, literally stacked on top of each other. You used to take your spanners and climb up the stack of cars and take off the bits you wanted, then go and show them to the bloke in the hut who’d charge you enough to cover the part you’d somehow forgotten to show him as well and everyone was happy. Everyone except the next door neighbours, presumably, and whoever had to sit next to you stinking of cold engine oil.

But this isn’t like that. It’s old enough, I agree. Older than the old Vauxhall Astra it replaced, when the string of good cars had gone back to whoever they  were leased from and times were not that bright. And this is the silly thing.


People are going bananas about this car. I keep saying look, it’s just a car. It  doesn’t alter who I am. It goes along the road. It’s actually older than the one it replaced, with more miles on it.

But whatever it is about it, it seems to make a difference. It doesn’t drive as if it’s got a lot of miles on it. 185 brake horsepower also means it shifts along considerably quicker than a Vauxhall Astra, however spotty and adenoidal the driver might be. But it does it differently, as well. It looks, I don’t know. Sort of respectable as well. Even though it goes like I don’t know what.

And the good news is there doesn’t seem to be anything much wrong with it. The pixels on the trip mileometer aren’t showing up and I think that was what prompted the previous owner to get rid of it, thinking as I did that it was going to be hundreds to fix the display screen. Which it would be.  Except ten minutes on the internet tells you that this pixel failure is a standard thing on these Saabs and it’s not the screen. It’s a data cable that comes loose, it’s been known about for years. And a replacement one just cost less than £15 on Amazon. By the time it arrives from Poland I’ll have memorised the YouTube video on how to pop the display out and press the new cable on.

The back tyres could do with a look at, because although the tread is absolutely fine there’s some age-related issues in the sidewalls I’d be happier if someone who knew what they were doing saw them, rather than me. The power hood stuck yesterday, announcing it wasn’t going to open with a little aircraft seatbelt-style bing. That turned out to be a huge pot I’d got at a boot sale being in the way.

Fuel-wise, the trip mileometer says it averages about 35 to the gallon, which for a 2.0 litre turbocharged car seems ludicrously good to me and I’ve seen 40+ mpg on the dial on a long 70mph run on dual-carriageways.

The leather on the driver’s seat is crazing a bit and it’s going to need regular saddle-soaping, but that’s what the cleaning stuff box is for, supplying things like that. I ran out of neatsfoot oil about a year ago.

The message “Fill coolant supply” flashed on three days ago. Half a bottle of £4.50 coolant fluid from the local garage seems to have switched that message off today.

So good. The power hood goes up or down in about half a minute, once you’ve unlocked the reassuringly heftily-engineered latch that keeps it in place. Everything about this car is solid and thought-through, secure and made properly. I like it in a way I haven’t liked a car for years. It suits me for now.

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