Billy Graham is the young man featured on the Saab99Turbo.com poster. You can also read about him on his Registry page.
What follows is a bit more about Billy’s story from conversations I had with his mom and dad, one of the many special experiences I’ve had running Saab99Turbo.com.
Not for Everyone. Essential to a Few.
Billy Graham’s father Dan remembers coming across his young son in the living room reading a giant SAAB repair manual of all things. The sight of his son absorbed in this thick document was particularly strange since it was hard to get Billy to read
“I want a SAAB,” Billy excitedly told his Dad. Dan quickly brought his son back to reality, suggesting it would be more realistic to get an old VW.
Dan described to me how Billy walked sullenly to his room, his Mom saying to Dan, “You just took away his dream.” He went into Billy’s room and sat down with his boy.
“Billy, this is America. You can have anything you want. But you have to be willing to work for it. If you want a SAAB, then I’m sure you can figure out a way to get one.”
Within a few weeks, Billy had a job in a burrito factory. His mom Karen remembers the smell of refried beans as soon as he’d walk through the door over the next year.
The day before his 16th birthday, Billy bought his first car: a 1978 SAAB 99 Turbo.
As with most SAAB owners, Billy’s love for this car went above the normal call of duty. He taught himself to work on the car, apprenticing with a local mechanic until he could perform most of the work himself. Eventually he earned a reputation as a decent SAAB mechanic, working on SAABs from around the Bay area. As for his own SAAB, Billy lowered his 99, rebuilt the engine, repainted it, and increased the boost. His 99 Turbo was chosen as the ‘Car of the Month’ in his high school newspaper in January 1988.
In 1992, Billy was diagnosed with malignant melanoma (skin cancer) at the age of 21. Billy – and his family – were determined to fight this disease. What had seemed like a pesky mole, however, unbelievably took its toll and Billy died on March 2nd, 1994 at the age of 22.
We at Saab99Turbo.com are grateful to carry on his spirit and the love of special things that make life worth living.
Dedicated to Billy Graham: August 5, 1971 – March 2, 1994