When Cliff Story of Story’s Garage started his shop, he focused mainly on Saabs. His success in repairing and maintaining these Swedish performance vehicles is the foundation on which today’s shop has been built. You could say that to call him a “specialist” is an understatement.
Here’s the story (pun intended) with Cliff and Saabs: “I made fun of a Navy buddy in 1969 because of the mechanical cockroach he was driving: a two-cycle, three-cylinder Saab 96 that sounded and smelled like a weed whacker. “This isn’t a car,” my friend Tim said, “it’s a Swedish transportation machine. Wait till it snows, and then you’ll see why I drive this thing.” Pretty soon it snowed – in Norfolk, Virginia, this was, where they weren’t very good at dealing with snow – and we went for a drive. Everyone was poking along in the right lane, but with the Saab, which was one of very few cars with front-wheel drive, we accelerated smoothly into the unplowed left lane and confidently passed ‘em all. I was hooked. This weird little car with its sputtering exhaust and column-shifted 4-speed transmission was roomy on the inside, great on gas, and an absolute blast to drive. In those days Saab dealers and mechanics were few and far between, so it was advantageous to know how to work on your car yourself. When I got out of the Navy in 1970 I started to become known as someone who understood Saabs. One thing led to another – I even worked at a Saab dealership briefly in the 1970s – and I’ve been driving and working on them ever since.
“Saabs were originally utilitarian and very efficient cars that were rugged and fun to drive. They evolved upmarket, and became fashionable – still built like tanks, still efficient, but much more powerful and appealing. They were expensive to build, and the company was losing money on them, so Saab sold half of itself to General Motors in 1989. The idea was that General Motors’ expertise in building cars efficiently would help Saab, and Saab’s engineering expertise and prestige would help GM. By 1994 GM had bought Saab in its entirety, and Saabs were now built on Opel platforms. The Saab 9-3 and 9-5 were very good cars, well infused with Swedish engineering. The final iteration of the 9-3, which went out of production in 2011, was a very generic General Motors car, built on a platform shared with Chevrolet and Saturn, but nonetheless an excellent car, rugged, efficient, and fun to drive.
“Like other European cars, Saabs have a few quirks and require regular maintenance. If they’re properly maintained they can run for 300,000 miles or more; if neglected they can die young. It helps a lot to have your Saab serviced by people who understand you and your car. It’s worth noting that, although I’m a Saab nut, there’s almost nothing out there that I haven’t worked on: a Ferrari or two, Model A Fords, all kinds of sports cars and American cars of the 1950s and ‘60s, Hondas, Toyotas, Subarus, my 1919 White truck, John Deere tractors, Audis, BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Volkswagens – you name it.
“My personal fleet at present consists of a 2006 Saab 9-3 Sport Combi, a 2001 Saab 9-3 turbo coupe, a 1992 900 turbo convertible, a 1999 BMW 328i, a 1993 Ford pickup, a 1992 Jeep, and the aforementioned 1919 White ¾-ton truck. My wife drives a sensible 2006 Honda CR-V. We have three company cars, all resurrected Saabs in great condition.”
So there you have it. If you are located in the Phoenixville area and you need your Saab looked at, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better repair shop in all of Chester county that knows as much as Cliff. Call and make an appointment today!