Home » Second-Chance Showdown: Rover vs Buick vs Kia vs Saab

Second-Chance Showdown: Rover vs Buick vs Kia vs Saab

Sbsd 8 11 2023
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Good morning, and happy Friday to you all! Today is all about second chances, as we pit the week’s second-place finishers against each other. But of course, to do that, we need to find out our fourth contender, so let’s see how yesterday’s vote went:

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Well, that’s pretty decisive. I would still have a very hard time choosing between them; the Alfa would be a lot more fun to drive, but I get the feeling the Rover might be more fun to own.

By the way, there will never, ever be a “Neither” option, not while I’m at the helm around here. I’d post two real nightmares, you’d all chicken out and choose “Neither,” and what fun would that be? No, you must choose. The shitbox gods demand it.

So, we’ve got four cars to choose from here, but I feel like I ought to give you a use-case scenario to help you decide. How’s this: Your significant other’s seventy-year-old Aunt Silke is flying in for a visit. You’ve offered to pick her up at the airport, about an hour away. Silke’s cool, and always has the best stories; she was a roadie for ABBA on their first farewell tour, and she once starred in a Mentos commercial, but no one is exactly sure which one. She’s also a bit of a gearhead, with a pristine Gilbern Genie in her garage that she claims to have won in a bet, but won’t elaborate. Silke knows that you’re the car person of the family, and has made mention of leaving the Gilbern to you, so you want to stay on her good side. Unfortunately, your shiny new Giulia is in the shop again, so you need to borrow one of these four to go pick up dear old Aunt Silke.

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Oh, and for our purposes today, we’ll assume that the Saab has been returned to running condition and the Rover’s brakes are brand-new. So what’ll it be?

1983 Saab 900

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Pros: Bona-fide European classic, smooth ride, nice clean interior

Cons: Somehow dull and weird at the same time

If cars were only bought by people who love cars, Saab would not only still be around, they’d be a roaring success. We car nerds all seem to love their quirks, their unconventional but brilliant engineering, and their funky style, but the general car-buying public for some reason preferred their Camrys and Accords. This early 900 is what happened when Saab tried to be normal: it’s a four-door sedan with an automatic transmission, still possessed of all the Saab oddities but not much of the charm.

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Still, it’s a mighty nice car, and it seems to be in great condition. The low mileage helps, of course. And driving a forty-year-old Saab instantly marks you as one of the chosen few – eccentric gearheads. If you’re reading this, you’re already one of us; might as well put on the uniform.

2011 Kia Soul

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Pros: Roomy, efficient, practical

Cons: Cheap interior, looks and feels like a rental car

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Of course, Saabs are an acquired taste. Your own personal flavor of weird might come in the shape of a Korean compact wagon that looks a bit like an Imperial Stormtrooper’s helmet. Or maybe you just want to prove to Aunt Silke that you can drive a stick. Behold, the Kia Soul, in all its manual-gearbox glory.

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The trouble, of course, is that it’s a Korean compact, built to a price, and it shows. And if it’s anything like similar cars I’ve driven, and I’m sure it is, it’s a tinny, buzzy little box on the freeway, Maybe that’s why they put a big kick-ass stereo in it, to cover up the road noise. Also, they’re everywhere, so it’s not going to feel very special. There’s no sense of occasion to it.

2000 Buick LeSabre

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Pros: Super-comfortable, big trunk for luggage

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Cons: Booooriiiiiing

By contrast to the Kia, noise, vibration, and harshness are not words in the Buick LeSabre’s vocabulary. From its pillowy-soft seats to its floaty Dynaride suspension, this car is all about not letting you know anything about the surface of the road. Yeah, it has a Stone Age engine and a Playskool dashboard. But who cares? Point this barge down the highway, and just sail.

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The trouble, of course, is that it is completely devoid of style or personality. It’s just a big dumb cruiser. It’s really good at being a big dumb cruiser, but it’s not the sort of car you can look cool leaning against the fender of while waiting for someone.

1966 Rover P6 2000

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Pros: Classy, stylish, great presence

Cons:  Always a chance you won’t make it there, or back

Now, you want to talk curb appeal, here it is. This old Rover looks like something Mr. Incredible might drive, resplendent in baby blue and chrome, with that glorious mid-century modern dashboard. And this one has just the right amount of patina to give it cred. Pull up to the airport curb in this beauty, and the cops will be too awestruck to tell you to move along.

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However, it is a fifty-seven-year-old British car full of no-longer-available parts. Demons of all sorts lurk under its sleek bonnet, waiting to spring on the unwary traveler and utterly ruin an otherwise pleasant voyage. At least you’ll look good waiting for a tow.

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OK, so the scenario is a little silly. Ignore it if you want, and just pick your favorite. Or imagine yourself crusing down the Interstate, coming up on a sign that says “Arrivals – Next Exit,” on your way to pick up an older woman and enjoy a nice drive home full of pleasant coversation and, if you’re lucky, some of those almond windmill cookies she always seems to have with her. You’ll get crumbs on the seat, but that’s all right. Which steering wheel are you looking down at?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
9 months ago

Neither the Soul nor the Buick is really cool for Aunt I already forgot her name, so we are looking at the Saab and the Rover. The Rover might be slightly cooler, but Auntie will have no idea what it is, and might confuse it with a Rambler, plus the seats look like they could give her an embarrassing disease under the wrong circumstances.

I think the Saab is the obvious choice here.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago

Rover!

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
9 months ago

Rover, because they were technically advanced but greatly underrated. Also I can always restomod with a 4.6 V8.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
9 months ago

If Aunt Silke is a gearhead she’ll appreciate the 3800 good reasons I chose the Buick.

Lhn91
Lhn91
9 months ago

I picked the Buick…. and it does have a personality – boring and comfy as hell is still a personality! (A personality I maaaaaaay resemble!)

It means you can focus on the conversation with your Auntie, and I’m sure she’ll understand that the Buick is the cheap bulletproof easy-to-maintain car that lets you have money for the other projects.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
9 months ago

I voted for the Rover, but having owned a manual Soul I can honestly say that’s it not that bad. Woefully underpowered, and a bit whiny if you gave it any revs at all, which you had to if you wanted to overtake a snail. On the other hand, the manual had a decent gearbox, steering feedback was pretty good, and I think it handled far better than a toaster oven has any right to. I don’t miss it, but I don’t think any of these four deserve the shitbox label.

Well alright, maybe the Buick does.

Masterbuilder
Masterbuilder
9 months ago

I didn’t vote for the Rover because that Alfa was just too sweet, but out of these four its head and shoulders above the rest.

The Saab might be a maybe with a stick, but hard pass with the slusher.

Plus, if Aunt Silke has a Gilbern Genie in the garage, in the event of a breakdown she’ll help you get the Rover running in nothing flat. Then help you permanently repair it tomorrow.

Last edited 9 months ago by Masterbuilder
SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
9 months ago

Wow! I never knew I needed a Gilbern Genie until now! This is going on my dream garage list!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

All in ruff shape. I am surprised no poodles underneath. I doubt any are sporty enuf to bark the tires. So dognabit iam going to rove over to the rover as long as it doesnt P6 on my leg.

JDE
JDE
9 months ago

I suppose the real question is what would you buy these cars for? If I was actually going to drive them daily or even just for the winter the only real choice here is the Lesabre. The Soul is a close second, but the motor is more questionable at 200K on the clock. The Rover is more of a cars and coffee weekender like the Saab, but it has the added benefit of running, if not stopping of course. I feel like the Rover being ultra rare stateside would be more interesting to a coffee sipping weirdo, but I do imagine plenty of those guys had a Black Saab 900 in their earlier Yuppier years, so they might try to relate to you stories.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago

Even though it has the slushbox, I’m gonna go with the Saab. I have past experience with Saabs and I know exactly where to get parts and who to go to for service.

Chi_spotting
Chi_spotting
9 months ago

share the knowledge?

InWayOverMyHead
InWayOverMyHead
9 months ago

I was about to inject that Saab straight into my veins, then I saw that very unfortunate selector between the seats 8^( Buick for me then.

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
9 months ago

For the sake of the exercise, I’m going Rover.
In reality, any prime-time airport pickup traffic would probably eat it alive! Go with the Buick and plan on bouncing off a few other cars to get in and out of the pickup lane.

Black Peter
Black Peter
9 months ago
Reply to  SlowCarFast

Exactly! I want that Gilbern! Auntie sees you show up in anything “pedestrian”, you’re out and that nice mailman who hand delivers her copy of Classic Motorsports so it doesn’t get folded in the mail box will get it

Acrimonious Mofo
Acrimonious Mofo
9 months ago

Yesterday I was thinking if the Rover was up against just any other car it would be a no brainer, but I’m not picking it over an Alfa. So I am grateful that you are giving me the opportunity to give it a much deserved vote. Hopefully it will be able to eke out a win against what I am sure will be a legion of Snaab votes–the other two are non contenders as far as I am concerned.

edit: Just voted and looked at the results so far, and good god damn a lot of you are voting for the Buick. What the hell? I just can’t even with y’all.

Last edited 9 months ago by Acrimonious Mofo
JDE
JDE
9 months ago

I mean both the alfa and rover are absolute rubbish vehicles in general, but the Alfa at least looks like a semi sporty hatchback.

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
9 months ago

I have a feeling that Mark just wanted the Rover to win at something…

Jimmy7
Jimmy7
9 months ago

You want to get there early so you don’t keep her waiting. You hop in the Rover, turn the key. Nothing happens. Turn the key again. Nope.
The Buick starts on the first try.

JDE
JDE
9 months ago
Reply to  Jimmy7

in this case it seems the rover might start, but you would not be able to stop. in both scenarios though the Buick does the job, but so would the Soul and if you managed to get it to run, the Saab might stop as well.

Ricki
Ricki
9 months ago

Rover, but only just barely of the Buick. Went with fun and style over the most beautiful cockroach of a car. But I absolutely wouldn’t say no to the Buick.

Church
Church
9 months ago

tfw you want to vote Saab, but it’s a slushbox.

Slayazu
Slayazu
9 months ago

Used to own a LeSabre probably one of the best Buicks to ever exist. They’re solid, reliable, and it’s like driving around with your living room. These other cars really don’t compare…

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