BY GUNNAR HEINRICH
BOSTON and New York have an ongoing quarrel.
And if you live in the Northeastern United States, you're caught in the crossfire.
Take poor little Connecticut as an example.
The Nutmeg State is caught exactly between Gotham and Beantown and seems to be the Verdun fields of trench warfare between sports teams. From the Bronx and Jersey City, Yankees (baseball) and Giants (football) fans have invaded the bucolic state from the west, while Red Sox and Patriots fans have claimed the eastern fields and pastures.
Each fan is as red faced, loud mouthed and obstreperous as the next.
Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, District of Columbia all seem to sit perched on the sidelines, secretly gunning for Boston while watching Gotham and Beantown, posture like two drunken Irishmen trading insults at a bar; each on the precipice of throwing the first punch.
The catch is, New York is a ten time heavyweight champion coming in at over six foot seven. They call him "the Machine" while Boston is this spry, angry little man who fans charmingly call "Li'l Mick." Not really, but it's a good characterization - work with me.
New York is the crossroads of the world while Boston is the ten car pile up that's I-95 hitting I-90 backing into I-93.
There's really no explaining this ongoing rivalry. Contest over. NYC wins.
BMW and Saab have much the same strange relationship and it's easy to understand why.
BMW is to New York as Saab is to Boston.
BMW is by far the larger, more prosperous, more celebrated, more distinguished "brand." To the Bavarians, Saab is this quirky, floundering Swedish division of General Motors that picks up what crumbs rival Audi drops from eating off of BMW's own plate of customers.
BMW people think Saab people are losers in much the same way New York fans have taunted Boston fans for damn near a hundred years.
Until one day both Boston teams - the Red Sox and the Patriots - trumped New York. It's been the David versus Goliath story all over again and again.
I'm convinced that the same glorious moment(s) will one day come for Saab. Just not by fighting the Germans.
Saab really has no place competing against BMW.
Saab is about compact front wheel drive cars that are utilitarian, unique design, and driving fun. They've never been true performance machines. Nor have they operated in high luxury territory either. Along with cousin Volvo from Gothenburg, Saabs are for educated, well heeled, sensible if artistic folks that don't usually pay north of $40,000 for their cars.
Between MINI and Rolls-Royce, BMW runs the whole gambit attracting most every kind of customer out there.
Saab will have it's moment in the sun and blow BMW's MINI and 1-Series out of the water when the marque returns to its basic routes - streamlined Swedish design packaged tightly into a hot-hatch. I'm talking about producing the 9-X Biohybrid hatch that stays very true to conceptual form.
No unhappy Jaguar C-XF to XF transfer to production will do.
You see, when Saab tries to produce a performance luxury sedan, like the commendable Turbo X, it's like Boston trying to turn Beacon HIll into Brooklyn; it's just not convincing to anyone outside of town. But if Saab were to give the world a 9-X Biohybrid that pushes the style envelope for the hatch forward while advancing the technology of alternative fuels, that's like Boston making Beacon Hill better, cleaner, and friendlier.
And there's nobody who could do it better.