Four words crossed my mind, “What have I done?”
I spent the summer thoroughly enjoying myself after being freed from the death-grip of four long years of engineering school. Needless to say, my Saab 9-3 got a ton of attention that summer.
The summer began with finalizing the clutch install on my 9-3 for the third time, and was finally road worthy after a long 6-months hiatus in my Grandfather’s garage. I loved driving around his ’81 F150, but I was ecstatic to have my own car back on the road. After finishing off the last few things on my mod list, which included some gauges, a stage 2 tune from MPS, and an electric exhaust cutout, I gave the Laser Red 9-3 a thorough detailing as a sort of “cherry on top.”
Soon after, Frankie and I began competing in SCCA-sanctioned autocross events throughout central and northeastern PA. Our favorite event of the summer was inside our local Nascar track, Pocono Raceway. Sadly, all good things have to come to an end. The summer faded into fall and all of my free time was now spent applying to various engineering positions across the US.
Then, the most bittersweet day of my life came to fruition. I was leaving my nightly warehouse shift, hurrying out of the parking lot to beat the half hour of traffic that would inevitably ensue. In the rush, I rounded up my work supplies as I was driving to throw in my center console. In that moment, I looked up only to see the rear end of a Volkswagen SUV quickly followed by the pillowy white surface of my steering wheel airbag.
I sat, evaluated, and realized I was unharmed. I soon learned the same of the passengers of the VW. My attention shifted to my car, and a mix of emotions filled my body. My number one thought, “What have I done?”
I returned home, and was unable to sleep after the night’s events, so I mindlessly checked my email. It was then that I came across a follow-up message from a recent interviewee whom I had met in Michigan a couple of weeks prior. It turns out that I had gotten an offer from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. The excitement was greatly dulled, but I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t lift my spirits at least a little bit.
I came to terms with what had happened, and the timer began counting down until I had to leave for Michigan. I spent the next three weeks frantically preparing for my move to the Great Lake State. Before I could make the voyage, I had to first arrange the buyback and delivery of my Saab 9-3, then strip all of my performance and salvageable parts, plus find a new car, find a place to live, and gather up my most important belongings, then I would finally be able to set off on the next chapter of my life.
It was undoubtedly a challenge, but I managed to get everything crossed off that list before my start date. I bought my friend’s WRX, and spent most of a week stripping everything off the car from sun up to sun down. At night I would work on packing some belongings, and thankfully, my mom stepped in and helped find somewhere for me to live. I even had time to sell off most of my performance parts before leaving, and had the others inventoried in my [now] old bedroom should something need to be shipped in my absence.
Just like that my life was completely rearranged, but as I got settled in I had time to reflect on exactly how my Saab 9-3 impacted my life.
- The car solidified my ability to drive a manual transmission. It allowed me to build my hands-on mechanic skills, starting with just a short ram air intake. It gave me an outlet to not only learn, but to have fun, bonding with a whole new community of car enthusiasts.
- I had always had a decent idea of the value of a dollar, but owning and paying off a car, while also trying to modify said car, greatly reinforced those lessons.
- I went in to college knowing I wanted to follow the Nuclear Engineering path. My Mechanical Engineering degree was just a nice bonus. It wasn’t until my 9-3 that my passion for automobiles grew, and I decided I wanted to enter the automotive industry post graduation.
- The large portfolio it allowed me to create when applying to engineering positions in the automotive industry helped set me apart from the average mechanical engineer. Sure, I most likely wouldn’t be doing mechanic work, but it helped display my passion in a way that just words alone couldn’t.
Was I sad to see it go? Of course. But I knew the lessons it provided would always stick with me. So remember kids, drive safe, and appreciate what you have while you have it. Its about the journey, not the destination.
Scroll through the slideshow above to enjoy some of my favorite shots of my Saab 9-3 over the years. Please excuse some of the 2013 camera quality.