Saab and Volvo, Part Deux

If you wake up in the morning when the clock alarm goes off, brush your teeth, take a shower, dress with the already prepared clothes you readied last night, run to your car and accelerate to the office... then it's no problem. It's just a morning like any other.

When you have to get up two hours early in order to reach your office, when the previous evening you didn't have time to pick what clothes to wear today and the hot water is “running late”, when you know that a dented car with the fuel economy of a truck is waiting you outside, then you start searching for meanings.

You start searching for the meaning of your predicaments, your choices, the things you own or you might own, the meaning of the universe, etc. As long as the meaning is life on the move, then everything is perfect. The second you start wondering why does it all have to happen to you  disaster strikes.

And we, as spectators to the character of my little story, become the people who throw the first stone, rushing to reach a conclusion: "The man's nuts!".

This is exactly what happened to my colleague, Charles, who woke up one morning and instead of just living pure and simple he began analyzing the mistakes he made in choosing his cars so he decided writing about Saab and Volvo. What a nut!

I've known Charles for a while now and I should probably tell you how he intersected with these two brand a few years ago. Let's start with Volvo. He actually owned one, a monstrous XC90, a car that caused him his first white hairs, with an engine he loved so much.

He was often telling me stories about this great manufacturer, about their pioneering work and about how much he loved his car. I have a friend who can draw the engine of the plane she flies, with total precision. So was Charles with his Volvo. Except his car was disintegrating at 130 kmh (80 mph). It was like an old athlete, one who perfectly mastered breathing techniques, articulation movement and the exact spot where the heel should touch the ground to provide that special spark, but it was all for nothing!

Younger athletes would run circles around it but she just wouldn't accept the fact that she got old. So Charles got mad one day and he declared that his car was no good, although it was just old. Well, it had an old engine.

He was seriously thinking about selling it, but he just couldn't let go. Until one day when he came by for a visit. He told me to put on my best shoes because I was about to step on an extraordinary territory, of an amazing precision, a wonderful place. I listened to him and we left together towards the Saab showroom, where we were going to test any model we liked.

On the way to the showroom we decided to count all the cars that belong to this brand, just so we could see what our fellow city residents were buying. I must confess we saw none, so that got me to think.

I couldn't say anything since Charles was exhausted from all the nice words he was telling me about the brand. About the brand which only few people can truly appreciate since it's only for connoisseurs. "The brand", he said.

People put today less and less passion in what they make, so when he'll lift the hood of a Saab I will see a wonder of engineering, not just some polished metal, he said. I must confess that I was never much of a fan of seeing the internal organs of a car, but my friend is the kind of man who sees a bunch of intricate technical stuff made by skilled hands and smart minds, by men who sweat pure passion.

Anyway, we finally arrived at the showroom and I, ready to meet history in the making, stepped towards the first car there. It had an indescribable color and it looked a horrible piece of vomit. I didn't say anything because even the Greek Gods vomited, right? So, no prejudice!

I let Charles climb up at the wheel and I waited. Although he's only six foot one, he just couldn't find a comfortable position behind the steering wheel. He looked like the main hero of a 1970s movie who drives carefully and is very stiff in his seat.

The car had been designed a couple of years before and the only improvement that had been brought since then was the color. I searched for a dash of modernism, be it just a LED mirror signal, and I couldn't find one.

Charles was saying nothing, he just kept on and on about the extraordinary engines and the fantastic reliability of the onboard systems, which would help the car drive for years and years. It was a car that had earned its respect in contemporary history. Do I sound like I'm using a wooden language? Well I just can't speak in a more elegant way about Saab and I don't want to get on anyone's nerves.

We then proceeded to admire the very same car, although the dealer was saying they are two different models since one of them had a higher ground clearance. That one, according to the Saab dealer, was just like an SUV without the all-wheel drive system. After that we began searching for different colors, but we were told that this manufacturer only has "serious colors". there were a bunch of different gray, an undefined brown, green-gray and so on. So we were best in buying one in black!

I won't tell you anything about the interior of a Saab, because except for the fact that it can be filled with leather there's pretty much nothing else. Modern gadgets are a bunch of bunk with no place in this classic temple with a dark plastic center console.

As for the engines, the sportiest one (again, these are the dealer's words) was reaching 100 km/h (62 mph) in about nine seconds. I was surprised it even had air conditioning. The Volvo we came with was suddenly a youthful car. I said that even though I had sworn never to say it.

If it hadn't been for my colleague's distressed look, I would have burst into laughter when they presented us the piece of resistance, the convertible. I felt like in a museum, I didn't take any pictures, though, because none of the cars were out of the ordinary or no longer being manufactured, nor did they looked like antique pieces – therefore worthy of being immortalized. They were simply old-new cars, that's all.

This is pretty much what Charles said in his editorial, but he was a bit more furious. And he shouldn't have been. What he demands from this brand is pure nonsense. It's like asking the god Apollo to battle the United States and win. The same US who own supersonics, Tomahawks and satellites...

The comments saying that Charles is insane are perfectly justifiable. He just got up one morning and, upon seeing his car in the parking lot, decided to change it. And when he thought about what to replace it with, went straight to the computer, looked at his old love and got mad that they had remained stuck there, in the past. He got mad that he can't bring them here in the present, when he's using a computer and they aren't!
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