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Iowa collector lends Saab to Seinfeld

Originally published by Associated Press--2014

(Photo: Jesse Major/AP)

FORT DODGE – The owner of an Iowa auto dealership is enjoying the sight of his classic car puttering around Portland, Ore., with comedian Jerry Seinfeld behind the wheel. Those scenes on Seinfeld's digital show, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," stemmed from a call that car collector Tom Donney got in September.

"My phone rang and it was a guy claiming he was with Seinfeld's office," Donney said.

Plans to use another Saab had fallen through, and the caller explained that the show immediately needed Donney's 1965 Saab Monte Carlo 850 for a shoot a few days later with Seinfeld and comedian Fred Armisen, who stars on the Independent Film Channel program "Portlandia."

Donney agreed and the green, two-stroke, three-cylinder Saab was trucked to Portland for two days of filming.

But crew members were uneasy about driving the unusual and rather small car, so they asked Donney to drive while they shot some video of the vehicle. "The brakes aren't very good and there's not much power in the engine," said Donney, whose car dealership is in Fort Dodge.

The online program features conversations between Seinfeld and various actors and comedians while driving to get coffee. The show with Armisen was posted earlier this month and features the two actors driving through Portland in the Saab.

When they arranged to use the car, Seinfeld's staff made clear that Donney wouldn't be able to meet the comedian. But he got lucky. "They go through expectations of what you will receive," Donney said. "The bottom line is you don't get to meet Jerry."

However, one morning during the filming, Donney received a text message saying Seinfeld enjoyed driving the car so much that he wanted to meet its owner.

"I told him I had over 100 Saabs, and we were instantly friends," Donney said. "We stood there and talked for probably 15 minutes."


Jim Volgarino
Jim Volgarino
Oct 24, 2019

Yup...same guy. Also races a Saab Sonett at Bonneville.


Doug Oleson
Doug Oleson
Oct 23, 2019

Hi Jim,

Enjoyed your short story concerning the Seinfeld Saab request. Is Tom the same gentleman that has started a Saab Museum in Sturgis? I would really like to see his place. Interesting guy with interesting stories... thanks for bringing us another one!

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