Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

Saab’s long gone as a car company, but they left behind a ton of cool cars like today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe 9-3. That’s an XWD wagon with an engaging turbo four and a six-speed stick. Could all that kit get you to part with some of your cash caboodle?

I can’t pin exactly when it occurred, but at some point in time the marketers changed the game on how we refer to secondhand cars. Once just described with the verbal hand wave ‘used cars,’ sellers now tout them as ‘pre-owed autos.’ I guess the prior characterization fell out of favor over time as it gained a pejorative context.

New descriptions of condition, like ‘lightly used’ have also crept in to the car seller’s lingo, lulling us into expectations of grander experiences when we buy our hand-me-down drivers.

We had just such a used car yesterday, and that 2005 Cadillac CTS-V’s seller claimed it to be the most gently used example on the market. That might be a tough assertion to confirm, although the same can’t be said for its $19,500 price. That was seen as too high by 53 percent of you, earning the car a narrow but decisive Crack Pipe loss.

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Hey, do you have boxes? I think we all do, of one kind or another. I’m speaking of course, of checkboxes, those metaphorical demarcations of life’s desires and accomplishments. Hell, who hasn’t claimed to ‘check something off their bucket list’ after realizing some goal or another?

Today’s 2009 Saab 9-3 Combi checks a lot of the right boxes. And for many of you, owning a Saab may be one of your life goals. Of course, Saab itself isn’t around any more, and it’s hard to say what sort of bucket list the company may have had before it’s untimely demise. For the rest of us—appreciators of the marque’s cars even after its passing—this 9-3 Combi comes to us with some alluring features.

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First off, it’s probably the most attractive of the GM Epsilon platform-based Saabs and being a wagon it’s also the most utilitarian. Beneath that handy and handsome body is Saab’s XWD all-wheel drive drivetrain, a permanent-action system developed by Saab in partnership with Haldex. Power comes from a 210 horsepower turbocharged four and between those extremes lies a six-speed manual. See? I told you it checked a lot of boxes.

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According to the seller, this Saab’s options make it a fairly rare car. He’s had it since new and says it still runs and drives as though it’s fresh off the dealer lot. With just 85,000 on the clock, it really hasn’t had all that many miles to let its age wear in.

That’s not saying it’s completely like new, however.

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The exterior looks fine in the pics with paint that still holds up and handsome factory alloys that don’t seem to have been abused. The inside and underside do however show some ravages of time.

There’s nothing egregiously wrong on the interior, however the side bolster of the driver’s seat shows an aggravating bit of wear. Also, it should be noted that Saab 9-3 cupholders are terrible. If you’re a Big Gulp addict, just move along. Perhaps making up for its lack of effective hydration options, the ignition is in the center console just like Saabs of yore.

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The chassis also looks a bit alarming, although it’s probably more a visual issue than an actual problem. The car is offered for sale in Boston, and the chassis photos make it appear that it has lived its whole life there. Almost all the exposed steel bits down there—exhaust, anti-sway bar, etc.—have a patina of good ol’ Massachusetts road salt rust. The Bean State uses both liquid and rock salt for road ice mitigation so they get you before, during and after the storms.

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It’s an ugly sight here but as I noted, probably not functionally problematic. The car comes with a clean record and a clear title. It also comes offered with some recent maintenance work done and a re-flashed ECU which is about the only box you might wish it didn’t check.

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Another may be its price. Rare doesn’t equate to desirable, but I’d say this 9-3 is fairly accurately positioned as both. As such, its seller has put a $7,500 price tag on the table. That’s a lot of money for a GM-era 9-3, but this is also a GM-era 9-3 that does checks all the right boxes.

What’s your take, could this Combi check your boxes at that $7,500 asking? Or, is this one possible bucket list accomplishment that will just have to go unfulfilled?

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You decide!

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Boston, MA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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