Kurt Vonnegut: “A Saab Could Drag A VW At A Stoplight”

Illustration for article titled Kurt Vonnegut: “A Saab Could Drag A VW At A Stoplight”

Of course you all know that Kurt Vonnegut used to manage a Saab dealership in Massachusetts before he became a famous writer. But any day is a good day to relive his fun tale.


A tale which may have cost him the Nobel Prize in Literature! In a short piece titled Have I Got a Car for You!, published in November 2004, Vonnegut recalls his experiments with selling the peculiar and not very good bits of Swedish engineering, a tale which crops up in several of his novels.

Get a load of this: There was a ring on the dashboard, connected to a chain running over pulleys in the engine compartment. Pull on it, and at the far end it would raise a sort of window shade on a spring-loaded roller behind the front grill. That was to keep the engine warm while you went off somewhere. So, when you came back, if you hadn’t stayed away too long, the engine would start right up again.


Swedish engineering had its downsides though:

But if you stayed away too long, window shade or not, the oil would separate from the gas and sink like molasses to the bottom of the tank. So when you started up again, you would lay down a smokescreen like a destroyer in a naval engagement. And I actually blacked out the whole town of Woods Hole at high noon that way, having left a Saab on a parking lot there for about a week.

Read the whole thing at In These Times.

Image Credit: Kurt Vonnegut


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In my junior-year english honors class, we had to read 1984, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Brave New World, Slaughter House Five, and Breakfast of Champions back to back.

I have since come to hate the works of Orwell, Kesey, Huxley, and especially Vonnegut (I hated Slaughter House Five). #saab