Saab 99 Rescue #1 of 2006… the 73 99L

Posted on 02. Jan, 2007 by in 1970-1979, 2000-2009, 99

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Carl Levine, the wizard behind the industry first device that allows the ipod to completely integrate into the Saab Automobile has recently shared a story that took place in late June of 2006. Word on the street is that while he is not building Trollpods in lab, he is working on his SAAB-SCANIA 99 while he sings “I’m bringing Sixten back”.

For the record, his “Sixten” reference is in connection with Sixten Sason,the original designer of the Saab 92, with his crowning achievement being the Saab 99.

For more information on the Saab 99, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saab_99

Enjoy his story below in his own words.

Ah, what an interesting evening. As you may well know, I’ve bought
back my old 1973 99L from Jon Dennis in an effort to clear his
parents’ yard of superfluous cars. Tonight was the night to make the
25 mile drive from Groveland, MA to Stratham, NH with said vehicle.
Now the original plan was to tow the 99 behind my 9-5, but alas, I was
too cheap to rent a dolly. So earlier today I trekked to the DMV and
got my temporary plate. Ken showed up around 7 or so, I cooked some
sausage, peppers and onions out on the ol’ Weber and after that, we
made out way out to the driveway. Ken brought his family’s 1993
Caravan full of tools and whatnot to make the acquisition a bit
easier. Ken cranked the troubled 3.1L V6 to realize that it wasn’t
going to start, and upon futher inspection it was revealed that a
mouse nest had been constructed in the airbox. The Caravan, as a
result of the rodents’ activities, was deemed unfit for the trip and
the 9-5 was pressed into service.

We took backroads south from Stratham, through Kensington and South
Hampton, NH into Amesbury, MA. A couple towns later, we arrived at the
Dennis residence in Groveland and saw the faded Caroline Blue 99
sitting in the yard. I checked in with Jon’s brother who confirmed
that the keys were in it, so we hooked up the jump pack and fired the
33 year old beast up. Now its fair to mention that the car, prior to
my laying a finger upon it, suffers from a completely shot brake
master cylinder and deader than dead battery. The initial rough idle
was written off as a need to warm up, so Ken jumped in the 9-5 and I
pulled out into traffic. Not even 1000 feet from the Dennis’ driveway,
the 99 ran out of gas. Good thing Ken brought his little 2-gallon gas
tank! So I grabbed my cell phone out of the 99, locked it, and he let
me take the helm of the 9-5. We made our way to the local Citgo and
filled the little tank, then returned to the 99. It started right back
up with a little persuasion from the jumper box and we were back on
the road… for another 1000 feet. The thing sputtered and died, thus
necessitating another jump start and all that jazz. I struggled to
travel another half a mile to the gas station to put more fuel in,
thinking that the lack of gas in the tank was to blame. Ten bucks
worth of gas (the U-Haul dolly would have been paid for at this point)
and some STP fuel treatment were pissed into the tank. Some of the
local Haverhill flavor were admiring the car, telling me I should go
on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” and such.

Another jump start and we were off again. I pulled out into traffic
before Ken, and made my way up the road to find the car stalling once
again. I pulled onto a side street to get out of the way, hoping that
Ken would see me do just that… then I saw my taillights and license
plate disappear into the abyss of Haverhill. I reached for my cell
phone… where the hell was it? I remembered that I stuck the damn
thing under the emergency brake in the 9-5 when I went to fill the
little gas tank and never grabbed upon returning to the 99. I quickly
attempted to restart the 99, but the starter solenoid was feeling
lazy. I hoped that Ken would realize what happened and turn around to
help out… he didn’t. Ten minutes passed before I got the car
running, Ken was probably in Merrimac, MA at this point headed north
to NH. I knew there was a Mobil station and Dunkin’ Donuts up by the
highway, so I headed there doing whatever it would take to keep the
car from stalling. First, I visited the Dunkin’ Donuts (mostly because
they had adequate provisions to cure the gravitationally influenced
diet Barq’s rootbeer I had with dinner) only to realize that they
didn’t have a phone. Next door was the Mobil station, so I did what it
took to make the car drive that fateful 200 feet.

After limping the elderly Saab to said gas station, I went inside and
was greeted by an attractive female type behind the counter (this is a
VERY rare occurrence!) who told me that the station’s phone line
didn’t have a long distance carrier and I’d have to use the payphone
out in the parking lot or visit the Citgo across the street. I gave
the payphone a try, as it told me time after time that Ken’s cell
phone didn’t exist. The Citgo station was my saving grace… I ran
across the road and made my case to the gentleman behind the counter
who graciously lent his Motorola RAZR to the cause. Ken had already
made it to Kensington, NH by this point so I told him to wait while I
got the 99 running and I’d meet him up there. I ran back across the
road, hooked up the jump pack and gave the ignition a kick. No dice,
the solenoid had crapped again. Just then, a brand spanking new 2006
9-3 Sport Sedan rolls in. I flashed the young couple a smile, but I
don’t think they understood that the faded blue car with the funny
forward-flipping hood was their car’s great-grandmother. I gave the
thing one more chance to get running, but it was not meant to be. I
went back inside and asked the girl if I could park the car overnight
and pick it up tomorrow. She was happy to direct me to the dirt
parking lot next door where a Chrysler LHS sat waiting for a new
owner.

Before I moved the 99, I ran across to the Citgo again and called Ken
to tell him to come pick me up. Sure as shit, the 99 started fine and
chugged over to the parking lot with very little argument. So I took
the jump pack and locked the car, went back to the Mobil station and
shot the breeze with the attendant. I laid off on the charm a bit when
a fiance was mentioned, but its always fun to meet new people in these
adventures. Just as I was looking to get out of that awkwardness, my
9-5 came barrelling into the parking lot and I hopped in the passenger
seat. Not even a mile out of there, Ken wondered why he was still in
the drivers seat but I told him it was ok. So he proposed that the
problem was definitely carb related and we could go back there to fix
it within an hour. I was game, so we went to Ken’s house and grabbed
some supplies, a new battery (absconded from the plow truck, who are
we kidding?) and a Haynes manual. I took the pilots seat in the 9-5
and jumped on I-95 to get back there a bit quicker. The 9-5 turned
over 190,000 as I made my way out of the Hampton SR101/I-95 ramp
tolls, and we made our way south to I-495.

As I came down the ramp, I saw the poor 99 sitting there waiting for
us. I pulled into that parking lot, hit the “follow-me-home” lights
and we got to work. Ken doused the innards of the carb as I installed
the “new” battery. She started right up, so I took a few laps around
that parking lot and we deemed it ok for the road. Ken asked me if we
were taking the back roads, and I told him it was ready for the
highway. After all, I knew this car four years ago when I bought it
from the little old lady in the housing projects… it’s a highway
machine! So we packed up our stuff and made our way to the northbound
ramp. The 99 wound up like a top, just like the good old days and made
its way to a cruising speed of 70mph seemingly without breaking a
sweat. Granted, the beast was running a bit rich and would send a nice
fiery blast out the tailpipe on downshifts, but it was happy to be
rotating faster than the earth it was sitting on. The twenty mile
highway journey was a success, the car is down at Ken’s and we’re
getting ready to take it 300 miles north to Littleton, ME where it
will become a rather ambitious weekend restoration project.

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