I was cleaning some stuff up at home yesterday when I found the following photos of my first (and second) Saab and my first Alfa Romeo. I figured they were nostalgic enough to share here on the website.
First, I have to apologise for the poor quality photos. These are photos of photos and the original prints were a bit blurry to start with (taken in low light with slow film in a fully manual SLR that I didn’t understand at the time). Nevertheless……
My first Saab was a red Saab 99E, from around 1973.
It was 1998, I think, when I bought this Saab 99 from a classified ad in the local newspaper. It was being sold by a parts recycler on behalf of an elderly lady that he knew. The car was quite dirty when I first saw it but you can see, even from these blurry images, how nicely it cleaned up with a good detail. It gleamed as if it was a little Swedish fire engine.
It had a 1.85l engine and sadly, an automatic transmission. That particular combination made the little 99 as slow as a wet week but I didn’t care. It was my first Saab and a wonderful introduction to Saab’s strange way of doing things. The interior was red velour and the headrest holes you can see through the window were something out of a science-fiction book to a guy like me.
To put a little perspective on things….. I had just graduated from university, was recently married and had absolutely no access to, or knowledge of, Saab’s history. All I knew was that I loved the classic 900 but couldn’t afford one. With this 99, I finally had a Saab of my own and after a lifetime of owning some pretty basic Australian and Japanese cars, it was a whole new world.
Sadly, I didn’t have the little 99 too long. My ex damaged the car backing it out of a driveway with the door open and the resulting damage to the door and front guard made the car uneconomical to repair (especially given our dire finances at the time). If I’d known then what I know now about how rare these older 99s are, I would have tried a bit harder to get it fixed.
Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint
With the 99 gone, I looked around for something else that would be a new experience to play with. I don’t remember where I got it from, but somehow I ended up with this Alfasud Sprint. It’s an early 1980’s model, pretty much the same as Gavin’s Sprint, which featured on this site last year.
I mentioned before that I didn’t know much about Saab’s history when I had the 99. Similarly, I didn’t know much about driving an Alfasud, either. I got frustrated with the car, feeling that it was way too slow for a car that looked so cool. Little did I know that an Alfasud only really comes alive above 4000rpm, preferably in a corner.
The Sprint presented with quite a few problems pretty early in my ownership. These issues, combined with a Saab 99Turbo popping up for sale, saw me sell the car less than a year after buying it.
You can see the 99Turbo in the photo below. The 99E might have been my first Saab, but it’s the 99turbo below that started my obsession with Saab. It’s the reason you’re reading this right now, actually.
I do miss that Sprint, though.