In a long life that has included a lot of dumb things that I'm glad I did, driving a Saab Sonett in Phoenix is one of my fondest memories, and worst nightmares. Time-travel back to 1979 with me.
The car I drove down to Phoenix with, two years before, had been turned into a mashed-up little tin can by someone who tried to pass me on the left as I was turning left. Welcome to Phoenix! I only broke a leg, and it soon healed up. And for some reason, I wanted a Saab Sonett.
|My Saab Sonett on Camelback Mountain in 1979. Wonderview Road.|
If you've never seen one, or even heard of one, that's not surprising. They were cool-looking cars, and fun to drive, but mechanically awful, which is surprising because Saabs tend to be pretty well-made cars. My Sonett wasn't.
|The Sonett in 1979 at the Saguaro Apartments, 4201 N. 9th Street, Phoenix, Arizona.|
I spent every spare minute, and every spare dollar, keeping that car alive. The tiny little V-4 engine, which was nearly impossible to get to (that tiny black bump on the hood was the only opening), overheated no matter what I tried. Luckily, it didn't spend much time in traffic, as I really don't like spending time in traffic. It had a little plastic button that said "air conditioning", and a compressor that should have blown cool air, but it never did.
|The Sonett at ASU in 1981, back of the Art Building, just south of the Chuckbox.|
As my twenties wore on, and after I graduated from ASU and moved to California, I started feeling as if there might be more to life than just always fiddling with a temperamental little foreign car. Even the Saab dealership really had no idea what to make of it. Luckily, I was close enough to Solvang to have it serviced there.
|The Sonett just before I sold it in Santa Barbara, 1986|
The second time I paid to have the transmission rebuilt, I'd had enough. I polished it up and sold it, and bought my first "grown up" car, a good solid American car with an automatic transmission. I was nearly thirty at that time, and knew that I wasn't a kid anymore. I remember how sad I was to realize that I was getting old, and needed something reliable, and ordinary. And that's when I bought the Mustang, the car brought me to Los Angeles, and ultimately brought me back to Phoenix.
|The Mighty Mustang, which brought me back to Phoenix. This is in front of Delta Motorsports, which was on Bell and 27th Street.|
Thank you for driving around Phoenix in my Saab Sonett with me! Sorry the air conditioning doesn't work.
Image at the top of this post: My Saab Sonett in 1979, on Wonderview Road on Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona
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