I'm rooting for Saab because I owned one once – and loved it

Saab car

As I write this, Saab's future remains unsettled.

The Swedish automaker was one of the divisions that car-making giant General Motors cast aside during its government-aided reorganization in 2009. Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer also felt the blade of GM's ax.

Pontiac died a quiet, dignified death. Interested suitors kept hope alive for Saturn and Hummer for a time, but that hope soon faded.

Saab may or may not survive; it's still too soon to tell, but things don't look good.

Production at its plant in Trollhattan, Sweden, ground to a halt last April when Saab ran out of money to pay suppliers for parts.

Its new Dutch owners have asked Swedish courts to let it file for bankruptcy, to protect the automaker from its creditors until new funding from two Chinese companies arrives.

But the courts are skeptical that that new Asian capital will ever arrive and may seek to liquidate the company instead.

Although the loss of Pontiac pained me -- I owned two Pontiacs and loved them -- I am really rooting for Saab.

In 1988, I interviewed the general manager of the Saab dealership in Lighthouse Point, Fla. At the time, I was editing the automotive section for the Boca Raton News, a small Knight-Ridder daily.

He was appalled when he saw the Chevrolet Astro van I was driving, telling me that it didn't fit my car-guy image. He was right.

I had bought the Astro two years earlier to give me a vehicle large enough to move supplies from job to job for a drywall contractor I moonlighted for.

Despite owing more on the Astro than it was worth, he got me out of the van and into a brand-new 1989 Saab 900. As recently as five years ago, that Astro was still on the road as the dealership's parts truck.

I loved the 900. It was the best car I ever owned.

It had a grocery list of niggling warranty issues. As an example, it went through three radio head units before one was installed that worked for longer than two weeks. But it drove and handled great.

I look at struggling Saab and can't help but feel a pang of nostalgia. I hate to see it go.

There have been a bunch of automotive brands that disappeared from the landscape in the last couple of decades: Geo, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Mercury, the most-recent group of GM losers among others.

Perhaps except for Geo, each of these lost brands had its diehard fans who lamented its passing.

I hope Saab somehow survives, and I don't join their ranks.

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