The Saab in Yosepha's garage

The 1966 Saab 96  in Yosepha’s garage

My mother’s first cousin Nathan R. died in Alon Shvut, near Efrat, Israel, a few days before Purim last March.  He was the last member of my family to have been born before the Second World War. Nathan was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1937 where his father Alfred was a profession of engineering.  His mother, my great-aunt Amalie, was the only sibling and younger sister of my grandfather Arthur, and their parents spent an enormous sum of money through the Ha’avera scheme to obtain entry visas to Palestine in ’37, as Alfred’s position at Yokohama University was in question because the Nazis were contesting his professorial habilitation. So Amalie, Alfred, and Nathan (Norbert) took ship to the Middle East and landed in Palestine in late 1937 after the Peel Commission shut the gates to most German Jewish emigration to Palestine.

My cousin Gad and Nathan in the early 1980s.

Nathan was a combat veteran of the IDF in ’56 and ’67.  He married Oshra (Friedel) in 1969. He attended the Technion, worked for Israel Defense Industries  and eventually became a professor of aerospace engineering at the Technion and at the University of Haifa. A few years ago as I was driving him from my apartment to his son Gad’s apartment overlooking the East River, Nathan told me a story about the time in 1986  when I.D.I sent him with two hundred rolls of film and a brand new Contax camera to Washington, D.C. to take pictures of the vernier and guidance thruster rocket clusters on the Voyager, LEM, Apollo, and Skylab samples at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, for application to the Shavit launch rocket and the Ofeq surveillance satellite the Shavit launcher would carry into orbit against the momentum of the rotation of the earth.  I remember Nathan and Oshra appearing at the hospital a day after my youngest sister was born in 1986 – having driven straight from D.C. to the Catskills upon hearing the news from my grandmother.

Nathan bought a 1966 Saab 96 in 1982 – in the words of my cousin Gad:

As a young kid I was ashamed of our Saab, all the neighbors were driving newer and better. Now, this is the car I would keep forever, would drive that over any luxury/sports car I own.  Growing up through the years I appreciated the quality time I had with my late father fixing our Saab and the time my brothers, my father and I were working together and the great memories we now cherish.
It’s the three-cylinder two-stroke with a Solex AI40 carburetor. I’m sure Nathan bought it because of its mechanical simplicity and technical sweetness, and because he had inherited the Yekke quirky conservatism unlike his sisters Ruthie and Yosepha. He drove it for about fifteen years before garaging it at Yosepha’s house, and Gad flew in from Zurich to unearth it a couple of weeks ago.

On the way to the restorer.

Gad lives in Queens most of the time, but we have differences that have meant we haven’t gotten together often – he fulsomely praised the former president at my fortieth birthday and waxed eloquent about his lunch with the man and his own boss (another New York real estate billionaire) – but Gad is going to import the Saab to the US and drive it in New York City.

Oshra and Gad with the ’66 Saab 96

I am curious how Gad will garage it in Long Island City, but I expect I will see it soon enough.

1966 Saab 96 At the automotive restorer