Me And My Car

The Aero in his heart

Lawyer Spencer Chew spray- painted the headlights matte black to match the exterior of the Saab 9-5 Aero.
Lawyer Spencer Chew spray- painted the headlights matte black to match the exterior of the Saab 9-5 Aero.PHOTOS: SHREEJIT CHANGAROTH

Mr Spencer Chew is hanging on to the Saab 9-5 Aero in spite of its mechanical and electrical issues

Swedish carmaker Saab introduced the world's first turbocharged passenger saloon in 1978. But the company struggled to survive in the 21st century and eventually folded in 2012.

You cannot buy new Saab cars any more, so they are somewhat of a rarity on the roads.

Like the 9-5 Aero belonging to lawyer Spencer Chew, 32. He has had the 2.3-litre turbo saloon for three years.

With 260bhp, it is the most powerful version of the 9-5 range and has immense torque.

He loves his Saab when it does not act up.

"My Aero is like that beautiful yet temperamental girlfriend, who requires all your attention and is exceptionally high in maintenance. Show a lack of affection for it and it throws a massive tantrum and what a temper it has," says Mr Chew, who has a fiancee.

  • What's in the boot?

    • an umbrella

    • a pair of slippers

    • bottles of mineral water

In its eighth year, this 9-5 Aero might just be around for a while yet - he changed his mind about selling it and renewed its road tax last month.

This is despite the numerous mechanical and electrical issues he has had. In his case, regular visits to the workshop are a matter of necessity rather than just for periodic maintenance.

"Everything I do with the car is done to prevent further trips to the workshop, as far as I can help it," he says.

"The air-conditioner is set to a standard 22 deg C, billowing at fan speed 2 regardless of the weather outside, because it might stop working if I keep adjusting the temperature or blower speed.

"I've got my schedules for oil checks and pumping of tyres all down to a T, all in a bid to keep it running in as prime a condition as possible."

He is currently facing suspension issues, he adds.

"Thankfully, the problem is still bearable. Seems the 'girlfriend' may be stirring again real soon."

His car has broken down on a few occasions when it was needed the most, like the time when it was part of a wedding entourage.

Strangely, though, it ran perfectly the whole day and decided to blow its head gasket only on the final leg of the procession and also at the venue of the wedding dinner.

Still, he loves driving his Saab. It is fast, handles well and is very comfortable.

"It's the most responsive, driver-oriented car I've ever driven. Besides, I always feel very safe in the Aero, knowing how strong these Swedish cars are."

The car's styling is also a draw for him.

"They say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and there's no denying that this is a gorgeous car. I still find its features alluring.

"I spray-painted the headlights matte black to match its exterior. Looks aside, there's also the exceptional legroom and plenty of space in the boot."

So what is his next car?

"I can't discuss these things now because 'she' might start acting up again."

•The writer is a contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2016, with the headline 'The Aero in his heart'. Print Edition | Subscribe