When this second-to-final model year Saab 9000 CS rolled off the assembly line in Trollhättan, South Boston’s waterfront, an area that has come to be known as the Seaport District, was little more than warehouses and empty lots for the eye can see, despite its prime location and endless potential. Right around that time in 1997, however, the Seaport’s fortunes began to change for the better. Unfortunately, as they did, Saab’s would take a turn for the worst.
The architecturally impressive John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse and Seaport Hotel were among the first new structures to appear, their completion right around 1998-1999, with development of the area skyrocketing at an ever exponential pace ever since. Today, the Seaport is one of Boston’s most desirable hot spots, home to numerous ultra-modern high rises, offices including global headquarters of many corporations, multi-million dollar condos, studio apartments that will run you $4,000+ per month, the Institute of Contemporary Art, upscale hotels, fine dining, and some of Boston’s hottest nightlife.
1998 was also a significant year for Saab. It marked the end of the 9000’s lengthy production, a car which despite its somewhat nontraditional Saab appearance and Type Four architecture shared with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia, was very much a Saab-developed model, notably free from any GM involvement. All future Saabs, with the exception of the rebadged “Saabaru” 9-2X, would be based on GM cars and share more and more in common with them as the years progressed and Saab stalled out.
The parallels between what I would arguably call my favorite part of Boston and my favorite Saab are simply striking. While the Seaport boomed, Saab sadly went bust. Though the scenery may have changed, the occasional 9000 doesn’t look one bit out of place against the most contemporary of Boston’s backdrops.
Photographed in Boston’s Seaport District – February 2017