SAAB Cape Cod – Kurt Vonnegut’s dealership

Posted on 15. Apr, 2007 by in 1950-1959, 2000-2009, 93, Dealerships, New England

As a follow-up to the story on Kurt Vonnegut’s passing this past week, I have been able to find some more information about the location of this dealership. There are now two pieces of information that confirm the location and the year the dealership was in existance (1958) by a recent comment by Mark Bourbeau. Here is an excerpt from his comments.

My father, an artist and friend of Vonnegut’s at the time, worked with him in the Saab Dealership. It was a shoestring operation, and only lasted a short time, but was located in what I think was the old West Barnstable fire station on Route 6A, which is still there

It also appears from the letterhead that is illustrated in Vonnegut’s “A Man Without A Face” novel, that SAAB Cape Cod was located on Route 6A, W. Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Now all we need are some original vintage photographs and in the meantime, a photograph showing this location at this fire station.


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25 Responses to “SAAB Cape Cod – Kurt Vonnegut’s dealership”

  1. bugsy

    16. Apr, 2007

    The library at the Cape Cod Community College has a collection of vintage photographs from Barnstable. You might try them.
    in the W.B. Nickerson Memorial Room

    Reply to this comment
  2. bugsy

    17. Apr, 2007

    I posted your request on Cape cod Living. You might want to leave a comment with your contact info.

    Reply to this comment
  3. ryanoe9000

    17. Apr, 2007

    Thank you. I will visit that site and place my contact information there.

    I have also put in a phonecall & e-mail to the W.B.Nickerson Library (closed today (Tuesday).

    You have been a great help.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Tim Winker

    17. Apr, 2007

    It will probably forever be an unsolved mystery, but here is my best guess at Vonnegut’s SAAB connection.

    I first heard about Vonnegut’s claim to have been the “first Saab dealer” in the U.S. in a magazine article, PLAYBOY, I think.

    At one of the Saab Conventions, I asked Ralph Millet, who founded Saam Motors in the U.S., if he remembered Vonnegut as a dealer. He said he did not, and Ralph had a pretty good memory.

    I once wrote to a Vonnegut fan site that seemed to have an inside line on the author’s life, but that came up with some lame response along the lines of “if he said it, it must be true.”

    Here is what I have been able to piece together:

    In the early days of Saab Motors, a dealership was formed called Saab Cape Cod. My guess is that it was the 2nd dealership established, so it must have started about 1957. The owner would have been known to Ralph Millet, president of Saab Motors, so it must not have been Vonnegut. (There are other references that say Vonnegut worked at the 2nd Saab dealership in the U.S.)

    Vonnegut was between books and in need of steady income in the mid-1950s. (This was long before he became outrageously famous with “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Breakfast of Champions”.) Selling cars can provide that steady income, so he sold cars… SAABs. The drawing on the “Saab Cape Cod” letterhead indicates Vonnegut was “Manager”. In those days of small dealerships, he was probably the only employee in the front office.

    As to going out of business 33 years before the piece appeared in (supposedly) 2004, I’m guessing it was ten years prior, in 1961, that the doors were locked for the last time. That gives only about four years 1957-1961 that the dealership was in existence.

    This is all guesswork, but with some online sources to back me up.

    — TW

    Reply to this comment
  5. bugsy

    18. Apr, 2007

    This comment just came in to CCL:

    My understanding was the dealership was in the Stone Building on Route 6A where it turns at Parker Road/Church Street.


    Reply to this comment
  6. coggs

    31. Dec, 2009

    it was in the stone building on 6A mentioned above which still stands. See the link below for a lot more info.

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    27. Sep, 2011

    forums which go above the similar subjects? Thanks a ton!

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  12. Adam Quilton

    27. Dec, 2011

    I live in Osterville, MA and have been searching for this Vonnegut-Saab connection for some time. I will visit the public records office in Hyannis later this month. Wish me luck!

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