So it’s now been over a year since I got Mellis and basically stopped writing this blog. My bad. I guess I’ve been savoring the joys of owning a 33 year old Saab? Those joys include: fighting rust, replacing dead batteries, slave cylinders, heater control valves, and other bits and bobs. Now that I’m sort of trying to make a regular effort of updating this blog, I thought I’d look back on my first year as Mellis’ guardian.
It all began one a fateful May day last year, when I snuck out of work a bit early, took the train from Boston to Providence and was met by Jim at the train station with my new-to-me Saab 900. As a reminder, Mellis is an ’84 Saab 900 8-Valve turbo. Jim found the car sometime in the fall of 2013, forlorn and forgotten in a field in Western Mass. He originally suggested that I buy the car, but in retrospect given the amount of work he put into it in the time he owned it, I would have been a terrible steward of the car.
A week or so after picking her up from Jim, I was on the road to Carlisle, PA, which if you’re a Saab idiot, you’ll recognize as the East Coast’s biggest Saab show. Driving a 33 year old car with more than 240,000 miles on a road trip of more than 1600 miles ain’t for the faint of heart, but Mellis didn’t disappoint. The 8-valve turbo can’t hold a candle to the much brawnier 16-valve models that supplanted it, but I still found the car had plenty of passing power at speed and full a rolling boil. I didn’t bother to track my fuel economy, because racecar. Mellis may have been born from jets, but her profile – blunt nose, roof-rack + fairing, rear louvers, and all windows and vents opened – meant I was cutting a jagged line through the air. A nine long road trip was the perfect shake-down cruise for me and the car and I got to know its quirks. For instance, it seems happiest with Talking Heads or Pink Floyd album in the CD player.
Following the highpoint that was Carlisle, Mellis and I enjoyed a series of New England adventures – mostly errands in and around Boston. And for the third year in a row, I had a car to bring to Swedish Car Day, this time my second 900! The winter was harder on Mellis, with the heater control valve letting go in December, dramatically spilling coolant on my shoes while we were out picking up a Christmas tree. Turns out those valves are now unobtanium and it took me weeks to find a new one from a junked donor car. Following that debacle a cable fell of the alternator killing the batter and render the car inert. Then there was a high idle, solved with a new idle control valve, which has resulted in a low idle. Oh, and then there was an alarming issue with the car “overheating” which seems to have been more of an issue with either, the thermostat, fan control switch, or a bad fuse. I replaced all 3 for good measure and the car seems to be running normally now. So like I said, never a dull moment with a 30+ year old Swedish car.
So we’re now a year into ownership, and the old girl is more or less humming along. I have some deferred body maintenance coming up – the spoiler’s mounting hardware rusted away after 30 some New England Winters and I need to put the louvers back on, but other than that the old girl soldiers on.