Silly stories in Saabs

If you’ve read the book “The Spirit of Saab” then you’ve probably read a few of the funny stories about things that happened here in Trollhattan over the years. Those stories are often accompanied by innovative solutions that the Swedes concocted to work around some funny situations they found themselves in.

Yesterday, around a table in the lunchroom here at Saab, one of my colleagues – who shall remain nameless – shared a funny story of his own from his early days working here. No innovative solution here, just a decent laugh that I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing here.

This fellow had just got his first drive in a company vehicle and decided that the car needed a wash. It was a Saab 900, though I’m unsure of the exact year model. Anyway, Mr Newbie brings the car along to an automated car wash (automatic car wash stories never turn out well, do they?). He enters the washing tunnel and the machine proceeded to do its thing with the big brushes whirling around the car at high speed.

Whilst the big brushes did their thing, Mr Newbie decided to listen to the radio. Of course, Saab 900s of that era had an automatic antenna that would be raised by an electric motor whenever the radio was switched on.

I think you can imagine the rest.

Some horrible noises were heard as the brushes dislocated the antenna and then tried to relocate it several times in various places around the car’s bodywork, leaving a number of scratches as a reminder. To add insult to injury, a reasonable quantity of water proceeded to make its way into the hole when the antenna had previously been located.

The conversation didn’t get as far as covering whether he invented a suitably creative explanation. We were too busy laughing ūüôā


So….. what about you? Any silly or embarrassing stories to tell about (mis)adventures you’ve had in your Saabs?

Comments are open.

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  1. I bought myself a Saab 9000 last year.
    The radioantenna was always up, because of some reason. And the antenna was also just a little bent.
    I didnt care about it, because the Radio worked so well anyway.
    But my girlfriend thought that she could fix this while I didnt saw. Like a surprise i quess….
    Anyhow.. When I got out my girlfriend was running against me with tears in her eyes… My first thought was, where have she scratched my saab now?When I got closer my friend just stood there totally empty in his face and looked at the antenna.
    She had tried to bend it so it could be straight again, but she had failed and it was in three parts, just hanging.
    Me and my friend had a great laugh and now I dont have any good radio-signal, because I had to remove it.Not a big thing, but a funny story tell friends etc! ūüôā

    1. Actually the power antenna is in two parts. The motor is kind of spendy, but the mast is only about $15 to replace and that’s likely all you need. If you hear the motor running in the trunk when you power the radio on and off, likely all you need is a new antenna mast. The antennas have nylon teeth inside them, and the teeth tend to wear over time so often the problem is just the $15 mast and not the $170 motor.

      1. Good point……I replaced many of those masts on my 900 Saabs….it is a pretty easy fix.

  2. Just remember once, in 1983, i drove my father’s 900 Turbo at a car electrician to change a light bulb.
    While the car was parked outside of the shop, somebody passed by the car trunk and looking at the model plate he asked me:
    “Strange car, is it 900cc?”¬† ūüėÄ

  3. I have a 9000 with the power antenna, but I have disabled it (By adding a switch on the line that triggers the antenna — so I can put it up when I really want) because I never listen to the radio! Now I can listen to my iPod without the antenna needlessly going up and down with every ignition cycle.

    My sister drove a Volvo 850 for years, which also had a power antenna, and I think in 5 or 6 years’ ownership of that car we lost 2 or 3 antennas to the automatic car wash! I’m pretty sure myself, my sister, and my father all made the mistake only once, but once for each of us. Fortunately on that car the antenna would just snap at the base (So the car wouldn’t get scratched up) and you’d just have to replace the mast for about $12US.¬†

  4. Saab has, as you say, made so many great innovations (later exploited for free by the rest of the car-industry… (sometimes are other marks also taking – or at least getting – the honour…)).
    Actually this story reminds about the shark-fin-antenna – which I first noticed on a Saab. But I do not know if this was a Saab-invention or not.
    Do you Swade – or any other here – know that ??

  5. I have a silly car-wash story. In 1990 we installed our first car-wash here at the dealership. It was only a semi-serious affair, which had a large rectangular structure that, when washing, would descend all around the car down to sill height and spary water and soap, and then rise up again when the cycle was completed.
    I was washing my car to take it on vacation. It was my first Saab, a 1984 900T 4-door (slate). I had just purchased a Thule roof box, and decided to install the box in the car wash after the car was clean. Plus, it was hot outside and shop was air-conditioned, so why move? It took some time, I had to drill some new holes and figure out the mounting of the box, but I got it done. All proud of myself, I jumped in the car, opened the door to the outside and pulled away. Within a second, there was a giant crashing sound! The Thule box was too tall to fit under the car wash apron, and the entire affair including the roof rack was torn off the car and went crashing to the floor (after gashing the trunk a bit). Other than a bruised ego, the only damage was a dent in the corner of the Thule box.
    A few years later, we installed a proper car wash, and in short order started to break a lot of antennas (mostly ones that never went down to begin with).

  6. Once I handed my brother the keys to my Saab, so he could drive us home after a drinking night (he had some cola’s). As we seated ourselves, he was leaning over to the right of the steering wheel, looking for the ignition lock. Tipsy as I was (little drunk maybe), I laughed and said “Not there, this is a Saab”. And he turned to the left. What happened next is not to be published on the internet, but after some time we started heading home…..

  7. Not on a SAAB, but i used to work at a car wash, and we had one coin-operated bay that was had some high pressure washers, and that bay was open 7 days a week, 24 hours just in case anyone would want to wash their car on Mondays and Tuesdays when we were closed.

    Well, we had a few times when thieves bust into the coin machine to steal 20 or 30 dollars worth of coins, so the manager finally installed a security camera in an attempt to catch the perpetrators of such heinous anti-carwash crime.

    The first interesting thing we caught on camera was not the coin thief, but something more amusing. Some lady drove her Toyota Corolla into the coin-op bay on a Monday afternoon, closed all windows, then started washing the outside of her car like like any normal person would: water, soap, rinse, etc. What she did next is what was priceless and had us all laughing and pitying her at the same time:

    She opened her trunk, pulled out a basket full of towels, then opened the four doors to her car, pulled out a baby in a seat, then started washing the INSIDE of her car with water, soap and rinse! I mean she had a high pressure washer going full blast on her interior, making sure it was really really clean. After drenching the inside of her car she got the towels from the basket and dried up as much of the inside as she could, then carefully laid two towels over the fron seats, loaded the baby in her Toyota and drove off like nothing happened…

    The manager and I watched that video laughing our butts off, but at the same time feeling sorry for the woman and even sorrier for that wet Toyota!!

  8. Me and my Saab vert were inside one of these giant “Mr.Wash” car wash installations when I thought I could make use the washing time.
    So I started to peel off the Swiss road toll sticker from the windscreen.
    Some seconds later I recognised strange, pink colored foam floating into my car on the passenger’s side.
    What had happened? Leaning forward to peel off the toll sticker, I had accidentially opened the passenger’s side rear window with my elbow!

    Needless to mention that the pink foam did not really match the yellow body paint nor the parchment leather of my car…

  9. This is not a car wash story, but a real “DUHH” moment nonetheless.

    When I was in high I drove a 93b 1959 vintage. ¬†This two stroke of course needed oil added to the gas. ¬†Saab in their wisdom and penchant for infinite detail had designed a nice little bracket for an oil can that was attached to the driver’s side bracket under the “bull nose” hood. ¬†You kept an¬†emergency¬†can of 2 stroke oil in there. ¬†This was the old fashion round oil can.

    Somehow I had to dip into the emergency supply of 2 stroke oil.  But I guess I filled a partial tank and had to put the rest of the precious 2 stroke oil under the hood.  But it had this large hole from opening it with an oil can spout opener.  So in my 18 year old brilliance I stuffed a shop rag in the hole.

    A couple days later while driving, I heard this strange noise under the hood, a little bang and a clanging noise.  I opened the hood.  The rag was gone from its can hole-plugger duty, and so was one of the blades of the 6 blade cast aluminum fan!  I found them both in the bottom of the engine compartment.  The fan was vibrating quite a bit because its balance was not gone.  

    I did not dare tell my dad what had happened. ¬†I brought the car to Charlie Rainville’s foreign car repair in my home town of West Warwick Rhode Island USA. ¬†Charlie was a legend SCCA racer who won everything at Lime Rock in¬†Connecticut. ¬†He had been the chief mechanic at JS INSKIP in Providence the big MG, Jaguar/Alpha/Healey, and every import under the sun dealer. ¬†Charlie took one look at the fan and said “What happened here? ¬†I have never seen that happen! ¬†That fan is pretty damn strong.” ¬†I know he wondered what got in there.

    Happily he found a used fan for $20 bucks or so put it on there for another $10.  

    I felt plenty dumb, but never admitted to any one what I had done……..until now 55 years later…..I guess my secret is still safe. ¬†Charlie has gone to that great racetrack in the sky as has my dad.

    1. I can imagine both Charlie and your Dad sitting up there with a big smile on their faces…

      1. I bet they are grinning.

        My dad bought my brother and I that 1959 93b to drive to high school, and my life has been changed forever.  I have had Saabs in my life ever since.