Just short of a year ago, I purchased a well-worn 1993 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible. The car was my remedy to the monotony of leasing a perfectly capable 2013 Volkswagen GTI, disguised to my wife as a sound financial decision. She got smart, hence why I’m writing this – actually, we both got smart.
Let’s make this clear: there is nothing more romantic than driving a car that has character, but if you’ve got a full-time job that requires 40+ hours a week of attention, fiddling with your daily driver proves difficult.
In 10 months, I purchased the lovely old Saab for $1,900, insured it for a measly $32 per month, and spent nearly $2,000 repairing and maintaining the car. In that same period of time, I was provided approximately 7 months of reliable service. The remainder of my ownership, the car was either wallowing away in the parking lot of my apartment building or keeping my mechanic’s boneyard of misfit Swedish, French, and Italian cars company. On Monday, I sold the car and let’s just say I didn’t
make lose much.
The truth is, I bought the Saab hoping to explore my inner mechanic – unleash my love for engineering and working with my hands. The hope was genuine, but the reality proved unrealistic. I have a demanding job, a young family, and other obligations that meant the Saab played second fiddle in the band that still headlines in the garage. Without the space, tools, and time, the Saab was not only straining my relationship with my wife, it was draining my wallet in a way that I didn’t foresee returns. Cosmetically, the car needed paint and miscellaneous other items, but before I could address that, essentials needed taken care of and it was always something.
The ownership experience can be defined by this: on my way to an after-hours event for work, the turn signal stalk broke off in my hand, dropping like a limp noodle, all because I needed to disengage the hi-beams, silly me. Simultaneously, my tachometer, clock, and left-front driving light went out.
Simple things, yes. But when daily driving, these nuances are unacceptable for sanity’s sake.
So I went and bought a new Camry. Just kidding, I’m not that depressed.
No, what I learned is that if you want to daily drive an old car (that’s not Japanese; enter ‘the answer is always Miata here’), you need to be patient, handy, and willing to spend either your time or money – and often both – on the car. I quickly realized that if I was going to buy a car that was going to cost me a significant amount of money in maintenance and repairs, I didn’t want it to be an old Saab convertible with a three-speed automatic.
So I went and bought a Citroen SM. Just kidding, I’m not interested in a divorce.
No, what I learned is that I want a water-cooled 911 and I’m going to spend the next six months wasting a significant amount of mental capacity searching for one. And probably an equal amount of energy convincing myself and my wife that this time, it’ll be different.
Patrick Glace is the Editor and Founder of The Driver’s Syndicate, an automotive blog focused on the enthusiast community. We strive to bring our readers compelling stories, relevant content, and original photography that illustrates why we love cars. For more, check him out on Twitter and Instagram.