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What Are You Following? Cold Start

Topshot Saabsheep Pv
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“No one wants to be unpopular. That’s why we’re here. That’s the dance of advertising. We help people become popular. Through popularity comes acceptance. Acceptance leads to assimilation. Assimilation leads to bliss. We calm and reassure. We embrace people with the message that we’re all in it together, that our leaders are infallible, and that there is nothing — absolutely nothing — wrong. That is what we do. It’s what we’ve always done…In return for our humanitarian service, we are made rich.”

The above quote is from the fictional Miles Drentell, an advertising agency owner and boss of the main character on the loved/hated eighties television show Thirtysomething. Drentell is a brilliant and quirky sociopath who will spout out lines such as “The decimalization of time is so arbitrary,” and whatever you think of the show, his character is a perfect encapsulation of a corporate leader who knows exactly how to manipulate his employees to make them manipulate the public for financial gain. If you hate the main characters on Thirtysomething, you’ll love Miles.

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An agency handed the Saab account in the eighties would have found it difficult to help the brand become popular and accepted in the Miles mode. A car with the ignition key on the floor and a backward-opening hood does not speak to mainstream acceptance. What can be done? You double down on the weird; you make it look like it’s the popular and accepted competition that has it all wrong:

Saab 1984 12 26 Pv

The herd is following the typical symbols of success for upwardly mobile professionals in the early eighties; we can see a Volvo 245DL wagon, an E28 BMW, and a paunchy S130 Z car. The Z seems a rather odd choice, but I must say that my parent’s driveway in 1984 did indeed hold 200-series wagon and a Z, albeit an earlier S30 280Z. So much for transcending stereotypes.

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As much as it seems like the advertisement is going against the grain described by Miles Drentell, the fact is that it’s going a step beyond. The copy says that by purchasing a Saab you’ll be infinitely better than those that are perceived as “popular;” you’re joining a group of people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a BMW, individuals who listened to Tom Waits, ate at Ethiopian restaurants and occasionally smoked weed in their mid-century homes.

Saab 1984 12 26d

Saab’s advertising during this time was outstanding, and like we were taught in sales training they go for your “pain points”. These ads know the issues you have as a middle-aged professional, and they offer a solution to all of them:

Saab 1984 12 26 B

Or even better in this one, where Saab claims that they had to turn buyers away for their cars, and they “even sold the yellow ones” last year:

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Saab 1984 12 26c

Obviously, a niche player is a niche player, and ultimately profits seem to center on being as many things to as many people as possible. Saab’s death a few decades later was inevitable, but their ad agency did an admirable job of keeping them as successful as possible. It’s also rather inevitable that as iconoclastic machines, these Saabs would eventually become one of the Most Autopian Vehicles ever. If there’s one thing better than being popular, it’s being effortlessly cool.

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Framed
Framed
1 day ago

In mid-2000’s I had a business trip to Germany. Landed Sunday morning and was given a 9-3 convertible with stick shift as a rental. Drove around with the top down all afternoon to stave off jet lag. It was wonderful. That car also taught me that not all countries require the clutch to be pressed in order to start the car! Fortunately nothing was in front of me when I learned that lesson.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 day ago

“Hefty orthodontia bills”
This is all I can think of:
“Lisa needs braces” “Lisa needs braces” “Lisa needs braces”
-Homer Simpson

Jim Galbraith
Jim Galbraith
2 days ago

Loved my ‘89 900i. Part of the advertising copy made me smile “A SAABs structure will communicate its integrity to you over every jounce and pothole in the road”. So, yes the ride is a bit firm! But also true the structure was solid, even on the 3 door hatch I had.

Greensoul
Greensoul
2 days ago

I loved those commercials. Truly miss the real Saab’s.

Paul E
Paul E
2 days ago

If anything, this vintage Saab ad harkens back to a now-lost era of advertising, where there was actual copywriting, and advertisers and agencies actually expected one to read what they had to say. Yeah, I got snagged as a serial Saab buyer. The seats were great right up until the end of the brand. My middle-aged butt has logged close to a million miles in a Saab seat… There are still few seats more comfortable for a long haul.

Twobox Designgineer
Twobox Designgineer
2 days ago

To Bishop’s quandary re the Z,
“…we can see a Volvo 245DL wagon, an E28 BMW, and a paunchy S130 Z car. The Z seems a rather odd choice,…”

The answer is the last sentence in the first paragraph of the ad.

“Other cars offer society’s reassurance of status. Or the security of hidebound prac-ticality. Or the image of performance.”

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
2 days ago

I once met a gal who drove a Yellow SAAB. She named it “Maureen”.

Take all the time you need.

Phyrkrakr
Phyrkrakr
2 days ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

In the town where you were born, was there a man who sailed the sea?

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 days ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Did she live in it?

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
2 days ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Take all the time you need.

Bringing up Taj Mahal seems like a red herring.

Tim Connors
Tim Connors
2 days ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

This sounds like it should be the subject of a Cake song.

It would be a response to a previous song.

Actually, I like stickshifts, safety belts, and bucket seats. Leave me alone, I’m going to hang out with my friend, the one with the long jacket.

Last edited 2 days ago by Tim Connors
Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
2 days ago

A Saab 900 turbo is one of the many vehicles in my imaginary Frank Wrench’s garage.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 days ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

Make it a convertible with a manual, and I’ll add it to my fictitious fleet.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
2 days ago

Manual, without question. Not sure if I like the coupe or convertible better. Probably best to have 1 of each then

Erik Skavold
Erik Skavold
2 days ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

A sensible fellow, I see.

Davey
Davey
2 days ago

I am no longer a BMW fan after owning a modern one, but a family member has an E28 B9 Alpina and a B7 Turbo, those are fantastic cars from when BMW made genuinely reliable vehicles. Now I get the Alpina wasn’t an “everyman’s” car, but still, the E28 bones they’re built on is a great generation.

The Pigeon
The Pigeon
2 days ago

As someone with three kids, a mortgage, and hefty orthodontia bills, I do, in fact, enjoy driving my Saab 900 S.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 days ago

With the Saab cropped out, the top image looks like a sheep funeral march.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
2 days ago

If you have watched season 4 of The Boys, then you know not to mess with sheep…

Warning, the following clip is NSFW, NSFH, NSFPE…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiq4bFn39sQ

OCS-BN
OCS-BN
2 days ago

Let’s ignore the Saab for a second. These sheep do have good taste. If I had to choose between any Saab and a E28…

Lori Hille
Lori Hille
2 days ago
Reply to  OCS-BN

I chose a 1988 325i convertible (stick shift) over the SAAB 900. Kept it sixteen years. I chose a 2004 CTS-V (stick shift) over a SAAB 9-3 sedan. When my son turned sixteen, my husband and I talked him into a 9-3 convertible. Hubby says that if I had bought either one of the SAABs, I’d still have it.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
2 days ago

I loved the character of Miles Drentell..but then I was 30 something at the time…

“When thirtysomething was on the air, the question, “Who is Miles Drentell based on?” became a topic of mild interest in the media and especially within the advertising profession. It was adman Jay Chiat, who designed the Energizer Bunny campaign and operated out of a Frank Gehry building in Venice, Calif., that was outfitted with Pop Art and cardboard furniture. No, it was Bob Kuperman, who worked for Chiat. No, it was superagent Mike Ovitz. No, it was William Drenttel, an old friend of Zwick’s and partner in a design firm whose Web page begins with the Zenlike riddle, “We love design. We hate design.” To Chatterbox, Miles bears an intriguing resemblance to Jerry Brown when he was governor of California. Of course, Miles is really none of these people. He is Miles Drentell.”

VS 57
VS 57
2 days ago

The second dealer I worked at had most of the demonstrated market covered with Saab, Volvo and Datsun. The following stint in strange market coverage was a VW/Saab dealer in Dearborn, MI. There I got to service and test drive a Euro spec Scirocco owned by the Ford Motor Company. This was well before the US release and all techs wanted a go.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 days ago

Those 900s are getting thin on the ground here. Saw a workaday daily-drive last week and had to tell my bil about it.
Still a fair few waxed red ones seen on the weekends, but a white survivor looking around 250-300k miles are pretty much gone.

On a positive note, have been noticing more newer brown vehicles amongst the grey sameness

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
2 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I was recently pleased to learn that a friend’s new-to-her CR-V was brown. The only Saab I’ve owned, a five-speed five-door NG900S, was brownish, too – well, “Citrin Beige”, which was sort of like Honda’s Seattle Silver, only applied properly: https://i.imgur.com/awKLt57.jpg

I don’t see many classic 900s around these days – haven’t for a long time, really – but you’re right, they seem to be disproportionately red.

A. Barth
A. Barth
2 days ago

If there’s one thing better than being popular, it’s being effortlessly cool.

Or recognizing and embracing one’s own dorkiness.

Viking Longcar
Viking Longcar
2 days ago

Saabs are great, but that top photo has the makings for an excellent 3-car garage. A 245 wagon, a Z-car, and an E-28 BMW.
Sign me up!

Last edited 2 days ago by Viking Longcar
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
3 days ago

My middle-aged butt was formed by 30 years and over 500,000 miles in the driver’s seat of a mid-eighties Saab 900 Turbo. Wish I still had it. The Saab, not the butt.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
3 days ago

I thought SAAB had jets in all their commercials?

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
3 days ago

I always regret not buying that 9-5 Aero. That was a car with character. Also ventilated seats.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
2 days ago
Reply to  Bearddevil

Do it! You still can! Hell, a non-Aero 9-5 will still take an Aero tune and Aero suspension. Just saying.

Last edited 2 days ago by Sensual Bugling Elk
Bearddevil
Bearddevil
2 days ago

The problem these days is actually finding one. At least one that isn’t completely clapped out.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
2 days ago
Reply to  Bearddevil

The Saabnet classifieds are your friend. I see good-condition Aeros pop up on there somewhat frequently.

Lori Hille
Lori Hille
2 days ago

This week, Doug DeMuro just posted a video for a 9-3 Viggen that’s on his Cars & Bids auction site.

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