Blog : Saab – and why I’m sad to see it go…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

My Saab 900 - a car I'll probably keep forever
My Saab 900 - a car I'll probably keep forever

The news that Victor Muller personally filed for bankruptcy at a Swedish court this morning comes as no surprise to me. Saabs have that effect on people – and I  guess owning the company amplifies that feeling of well-being and nurturing. In short, Saab owners care. It’s a shame, then, that Saab’s former owner GM didn’t, and in doing so, caused this most iconic and charismatic of companies to die an undignified and protracted death.

We care deeply care about Saab at AROnline and I have written extensively about the company, as has Mike Humble, and I’ve owned a string of the buggers. And loved every one of them. And watching the company slowly die in a horrible manner reminiscent of MG Rover up to 2005, over the past couple of years has been unbearable. In fact, it’s been like watching a re-run of a car crash video – you know what’s coming, you know the pain, you can’t take your eyes off it, and you wish for a miracle to stop it happening. We’ve been there with MG Rover, and no doubt German car enthusiasts would say the same about Glas, Borgward and perhaps DKW and NSU.

During its 60 year-plus history, Saab was a pioneer. A free spirit. And the creator of some, frankly, amazing cars. The original 92-through-96 models were front wheel driven aerodynamic wonders that proved power wasn’t all you needed to win rallies. While the original 99 of 1967 was a modern car 20 years ahead of its time. Throughout the 1980s, Saab became a aspirational product thanks to its uber-cool 900 Turbo, and in doing so, we all thought the company could do no wrong. Hell, it even turned the Type 4 platform into something quite desirable.

But once GM got its grubby mitts on the company and started cheapening the product – by sharing componentry with some quite undesirable cars – it was effectively game over. The 1985 9000 might have been a joint venture with the Fiat Group and Lancia, but the oily bit that Saab used were just as solid and dependable as the legendary 900. But the arrival of the NG900 in 1994 saw the beginning of a slippery slide into oblivion. It actually looked okay, and the Calibra platform it was based upon was fundamentally okay… but gone was the old car’s USP solidity and wackiness.

By the time the 9-5 arrived in 1998, many of Saab’s engines had been cheapened, and parts sharing was becoming rife. And that had further ramifications for the brand’s hard-earned gilt-edged reputation. But despite that, the desirable products continued to flow out of Trollhättan: the 9-5 Aero Estate, the 9-3 Convertible, the Viggen – none of which were rounded in the way their German rivals were. But they were just cool, and had a certain je ne sais quoi.

And that sums up Saab for me, really. The cars were just different, and celebrated the fact. And I like individuality. And unless a miracle happens in the coming months, a rather quirky star has gone out in the automotive sky tonight. And it’s another blow for intelligent individuality. Such a shame.

But it’s helped me decide something – I’ll never sell my 900T16S Aero, pictured above and below. Just like my Rover 3500 and Alfa Romeo Alfasud, it will remain a constant reminder of a company at its brilliant best.

Saab 1937-2011: RIP

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

67 Comments

  1. It’s very sad, but for European manufacturers you need to sell a hell of a lot of cars to pay for the development costs of the next generation platform, and SAAB could never do that by themselves, in the sector of the market they were in. In some ways, it would have been more dignified to have a less drawn out death 🙁

  2. Impossible to improve on your thoughts and sentiments Keith.

    However ineveitable this may have been, I still find myself unable to hide the pain inside.

    That strange mix of wonky looks and eccentric engineering will forever be remembered. They gave the automotive world so much in the remits of ergonomics, turbocharging & sheer design integrity.

    BORTA, men inte glömt – as they would say!

  3. Very sad.

    “But once GM got its grubby mitts on the company and started cheapening the product”

    Brings to mind what happened to the Rootes Group under Chrysler ownership. Going back even further it sounds like what happened to Vauxhall when you consider that before GM they made cars like the 30/98 and Prince Henry.

    Thanks be that US ownership wasn’t the kiss of death for JLR too.

  4. Saab’s blood is on GM’s hands.

    Their dog-in-a-manger attitude to platforms, supply contracts, and IP makes BMW in 2000 look like model corporate citizens.

    Not content with debasing Saab’s brand values over the 21 years of their stewardship, they now deliver the coup de grace.

  5. Sir,
    You are as always spot on.
    What a waste…and what a lovely Saab, that will still be working properly in years to come.
    All GM understand is how to build cars to the US standard, and short lifespan.
    The first Gen GM 900i was a dog….in an Auto guise turning right was best avoided…

  6. A very sad day for all Saab fans like me but it must be really tough on Saab employees especially at this time of year.

    I just wonder who will be next?

  7. Such a shame that the historically most individual, forward-thinking car company for intelligent people has gone. RIP SAAB.

    What on Earth is the world coming to?

  8. A very sad day indeed.

    General Motors bought Saab out from under Fiat which was interested back in the late 1980s. Having purchased Saab, GM clearly didn’t know what to do with it. They diluted Saab’s uniqueness, starved it of products, used it as a corporate engineering resource, hid the profits it made (yes, it did make them), and then tossed it aside. GM’s refusal to permit any Chinese investment of any type at pain of nullifying its supply contracts (is that even legal?) was the death blow.

    Here in the U.S. I am deeply ashamed that public funds were used to bail out GM. It is a corrupt, predatory company run by arrogant, selfish clods that clearly has not changed its ways despite its own brush with oblivion.

    R.I.P. Saab, 1947-2011.

  9. @ eamonn- Renault, Suzuki, seat…. Plenty ready for the chop.

    As for Saab, never been my cup of tea, but the motoring world is much poorer without it!

  10. Sad as it is that SAAB is in its almost certain final days I can’t agree that GM is the bad guy here.

    Prior to GM’s investment over 20 years, SAAB under SCANIA was unable to generate enough revenue to make it past it’s then current product line which would have in effect made it doubtfull to see anything past the late 90’s.

    GM tried and did, in many ways suceed (volume, larger product range etc) sadly though GM wasn’t the perfect parent, who in the late 80’s early 90s could have been better, perhaps VW, maybe Ford/PAG instead of Volvo or even Chrysler during it’s fruitful period with Mitubishi… GM did it’s best and I can understand their position concerning IPR and the various Chinese partners.

    If there is a ‘bad guy’ in all this it was SCANIA who held on to 50% share too long restricting GM from having a free hand.

    Anyway RIP SAAB you are in good company…say hello to Triumph from me.

  11. “…Never trust an American” was a what one Ellesmere Port employee once said when GM did that famous European U-turn…

    They messed up Opel, they twisted the screw into Vauxhall, and then they killed SAAB. I even remember a quote from on GM/Cadillac executive once say “besides, who buy’s a SAAB anyway??”. This around the time the original 9-5 was still in production.

    Shitty attitude, coupled together with fat, bumbling coporate ineptitude along with total all out greed to milk a cash cow fully dry. And they totally misunderstood what SAAB was all about. if they’d have bought PSA years ago, they wouln’t have had a clue what to do with it. that operation would have shut down years ago.. Especially the Citroen bit!

    Drove a SAAB 900 turbo. First impression, pretty but gutless…. But Tpthen the turbo kicked in…..

  12. Another fondly remembered marque from my youth dies a lonely death.

    Everyone goes on about market forces sorting out the weak from the strong and that’s the way it should be, but when I passed my driving test in 1980 the road was full of Austins, Morrises, Rovers and a few of my friends had SAABs. Those were the mainstay of British motorists along with the Ford Cortina, Escort & Fiesta as well as the Vauxhall Cavalier & Chevette. Back then it was inconceivable that in 30 years there would be no Rovers, MG’s or SAABs being built.

    I may be looking through the misty eyes of nostalgia, but the proliferation of foreign ownership has meant that history and heritage of long-established car builders matters not one jot (unless it is a cash cow)and the way they have been allowed to die is criminal. In my opinion those people were only the current custodians of these classic marques and should have realised they had a responsibility to treat them well.

    A bit like Gretna FC, a team in happy existence for over 60 years then one man’s pipedream kills them off within 3 years.

    Tragic

  13. Very sad to see Saab go, but….

    1. They haven’t built a car worthy of the name for many years.

    2. They could never have survived this long without GM’s involvement (GM propped them up for years) and they have now taken Victor Muller down with them too.

    3. At least GM had the foresight to protect their IP rights in case of disaster. I laugh when I hear people say that GM stood in the way of “Chinese investment”. What Chinese manufacturers really need is access to modern designs and their licenses at very low cost; this is all that they would have been interested in by “investing” in Saab. So, so many parallels with MG Rover accept, in MG Rover’s case, SAIC got what they came for…

  14. PS: Keith Adams’ 900 Turbo is on the nicest Saabs ever built and I can fully understand wanting to hang on to it for ever! It’s how I’d like to remember Saab and try to ignore much of what has been built since…

  15. RIP. One less alternative to the German boxes.

    Who is next?
    Renault? They’ve killed off the Megane, Espace, Modus and Wind in the UK. But then the French government would not let this happen.

    Seat? Quite possibly, as VW do not have a bloody clue what they are doing, replaced their well selling sporty hatchback and saloon (Leon and Toledo) with a range of MPVs, then in a panic badge engineered a second hand Audi.

    Suzuki? Their USP of small SUVs is no longer unique, every manufacturer is doing them.

  16. I think given the connection with GM, SAIC may well buy the Saab rights and brand name. Strong in the US as abrand name and no problem using GM tech… Could see a merger with MG from a sales perspective? Two very iconic brands but SAIC need to up their game and produce some cars that really treasure the brands they own.

  17. @John – “What Chinese manufacturers really need is access to modern designs and their licenses at very low cost; this is all that they would have been interested in by “investing” in Saab. So, so many parallels with MG Rover accept, in MG Rover’s case, SAIC got what they came for…”

    And now it has gone Bankrupt I suspect the chinese will do the same again, what European car manufacturer want’s SAAB’s equipment? none I suspect.

    Though it would be nice to see SAIC’s GM relationship somehow wrangle MG Motor UK taking on SAAB’s new 95 production equipment/lines/robots etc to the UK and produce something… real pie in the sky I know…

  18. Did a Chinese brand not already buy the ‘old’ Saab tech? They produced a car that looked like a cross between a 9-3 and an MG6.

    Do you reckon Scania would do anything with the name?

  19. I owned one once: a 2.2TD five door 9-3. Let me down to such an extent I got rid of it and bought a ZT-T. However i really liked owning a Saab, it was a thinking man’s car and even the GM ones were a bit different.

    Greatly missed -the world is a poorer place.

  20. Waht a shame – both my brother and boss recently bought Saabs – a 9-3 2.2 TID and a 9-5. Both are loverly motors, even though they are GM part bin specials. It is a shame that they are going as Saab when I was growing up were the cool car to own.

  21. @Will M

    Renault seem to be taking a big risk with electric cars and they don’t seem to be in synergy with their Nissan cousin.

    SEAT – I agree.

    Suzuki – plenty of SUV’s but no-one else does a Jimny equivalent or very small SUV with 4wd. They too have been messed about by VW but there is an engineering integrity/quirkiness/independence about them, and a common link with GM, which could have made a takeover by them of Saab very interesting.

    I suspect Saab will eventually reappear although its new owner may be a surprise and its vehicles have little in common with the previous GM platforms.

  22. Let me make it clear I take no pleasure in seeing workers loose their jobs. Having said that I am still amazed why some people seem to have built the image of the SAAB car company into something it never was.

    Sixty years ago it produced a highly aerodynamic saloon powered by a 2-stroke engine although this engine had to be replaced by the flawed Ford V4. SAAB later became an early adopter of the turbo (it was not the first) when it began fitting them to an engine designed by Triumph. Since then it has produced a succession of increasingly ordinary cars based on other manufacturers technology.

    Dispite all the hype over the years the only the aeronautical thing about the cars was the aeroplane badge on the bonnet.

  23. @14 Paul T — spot on. The spread of globalization has its benefits for sure, but the downsides are a lack of care for individuality, history or character.

    As for the “death of the thinking man’s car” — well that sums it up really. SAAB made cars for men (bang goes half of the market) and for those who think (bang goes another 95% of the 50%).

    Cars maybe are no longer for anyone who thinks. It’s the cars that do the thinking nowadays: we’re just automatons who turn the steering wheel. Stature is now equated purely with size. Hence the success of Range Rover, BMW x5 etc etc.

    Keith, what do you think?

  24. CONSPIRACY THEORY

    Human League video, 1981 – Rover SD1 and Saab 99 Turbo. Now both bankrupt. Any other cars in there?

    SIZE MATTERS

    It certainly does. Every time an X5 belts past me on the M1, I think “what a pl*nk*r”

  25. @DoctorD

    “death of the thinking man’s car”

    The media tells young men they must own 316is or A3s. Then, as soon as they spawn, they have to buy Land Cruisers.

    Also, ‘thinking man’ is a rare breed these days. It’s all about what’s advertised during x facta innit?

  26. My theory exactly – those are the cars people are led to believe that they are supposed to want, pushy young executive types in knee-length black woollen coats and pointy shoes, to whom bigger equals better, and then as you say, you need an armoured personnel carrier to get little Hesperus and Sarah-Jane the half a mile to school from the exclusive development of identical five bedroom cardboard houses with postage stamp gardens while yapping on the blackberry and then off ski-ing three times a year.

    Is this the sum total of ambition these days? Is this what my ambition is supposed to be?

    Sorry, majorly off topic but a development of previous points!

  27. I didn’t think GM/Saab got it right until the Turbo X, so I bought one and like it. I kept my pre-GM 1988 900T convertible, though.

  28. Dickie524 – spot on! Too many people have massive preconceptions regarding what they should drive. Young girls believe they should have a Mini or a 500. Family men and woomen must have a people carrier even if they only have one sprog. If you want an executive car it must be German. What a load of codwollops!

    If you have one sprog why do you need more than just a normal Focus / Golf? Buggies, shopping and the rest easily fit into the back of one of these.

  29. A National tragedy. A tragedy for motorcar enthusiasts the world over.
    Say what you will about Ford at least they have looked after Volvo of a fashion.
    I actually liked my 98 Saab 9-3. Perhaps that’s because my other cars are 70’s B.L? It drove well and returned great mpg if the right foot was restrained!
    An excellent long distance car which I miss greatly. So why did I sell it?
    The intention was to replace it with a purer pre GM 900 Aero but sadly I was sidetracked by a Sherpa camper van.
    I guess I’m just British Leyland through and through and prefer not knowing if I’ll make it to my destination…
    Nice article Keith.

  30. RIP Saab. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Swedish oddballs. Until recently, a family friend had nothing but Saabs, right from 99’s, through several 900s, including a couple of Turbos. He is quite a quirky bloke, which I would say fits the stereotypical Saab owner.
    The reverse gear lock I always thought was a great idea, and am really surprised other firms didn’t follow suit with it.

  31. I am going to defend GM…a bit. There is a lot of snobbishnes about GM and especially Vauxhall. I had a GM Saab 900 and found it to be well built and almost impossible to easily find a Vauxhall part on it depsite people saying that it is ONLY a Vauxhall Cavalier in drag.
    GM did make mistakes but lets not forget that VW do platform sharing / badge engineering to a much greater extent. An Audi A3 is only a VW golf in drag. A Bentley Conti is only a VW Phaeton in drag. However the VAG products do not wear a GM or Vauxhall badge.

  32. @Merlin

    Same as the X type. “Oh it’s only a Mondeo” etc. etc.

    The media tend to let the Germans away with anything.
    People still rush out to buy overpriced Golfs and Passats with 4 rings on the grille.
    The Ultimate Marketing Machine.

  33. I have followed this brilliant site for quite some time now, but never posted any comments. Until now, because being an engineer at Saab in Sweden I feel I should take the opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you” to Keith and the rest of the community here. Your kind words are much appreciated. (And you should know that this site has a heart of gold – reading an essay of your admiration of, say, the Peugeot 505 on a site devoted to British cars is simply beautiful!)

    There is a lot that could be said about why things went the way they did with Saab. Unfortunately, such discussions tend to bring up the very extreme opposites – “pre-GM Saab was faultless but GM messed up everything” vs. “Saab built cars that nobody wanted, they deserved to die, it wasn’t GM’s fault in any way”. I usually get the sense that such statements are rather manifests of already taken positions than serious attempts at an explanation, and I have heard them millions of times during the last three years. A little tiresome, uninformed and predictable!

    With their latest actions (and above all in the way they were taken) GM is in the spotlight again. And looking back, it is evident that GM wasn’t a very good parent. In their twenty years of control (either 50% or 100%) Saab was only allowed to launch four (4) really new products – and that pretty much sums it up. There’s no way around it, and you simply cannot expect a brand to successfully compete with the “premium segment” by chronic underinvestment and a model lifespan of 10-12 years. GM kept Saab alive during the years, true, but the worlds largest automaker was also incapable of really letting the Saab brand take off. For whatever reason.

    With the bankruptcy filing yesterday, everyone at Saab are feeling sad – but also some sort of relief. And in typical Saab fashion, the management is right now working like madmen to prepare for the administrators to make the best out of the situation. There’s no shortage of ideas, and lets just say that I am in better mood today than I was yesterday!

    Keep up the good work with this site! And, from someone used to engineer so-called “quirky” cars, let me just add that the Princess is a brilliant piece of design (although it’s at least twenty years since I last saw one in real life…!)

  34. In the late 1970s I had two Saab 99s (not at the same time). Back then they really stood out as being different, both to look at and from a driving position.

    Like everything, they had plus and minus points. Steering was unassisted and needed two people to turn corners; no other car I’ve driven has ever come close to the effort needed on a 99. Pushing a bus would’ve been easier.

    The heated seat was a novelty but was actually really good and useful – and you noticed it straight away on a cold morning.

    Headlight washers actually made a noticeable difference.

    It was the best, smoothest, relaxing long-distance cruiser I’ver ever owned; justd as long as you didn’t need to go round a corner.

    They both had the “Triumph” 1850 engine which had a bit of a reputation, and sure enough the second one I owned demonstrated why that reputation existed. Just say head gasket, and it explains everything. I got rid of it and vowed I’d not have another until they used another engine.

  35. Interesting SAAB bought Triumph engines back in the early 70s….
    Now if there had been a SAAB-Triumph merger back in the day whoese to say they wouldn’t have taken on the World between them and both be still here today…..

    RIP

  36. Personal story. It’s 1965 or ’66 and I’m being driven up the road as a tiny tot in the family Standard Ensign, no doubt sitting on my Mum’s lap on the front bench-seat – no seat belts of course, when Mum sees an odd-looking car parked at the roadside.
    ‘What’s that funny-looking car?’ she asks Dad.
    ‘It’s a Saab’ comes a clear reply – from the tiny tot! Apparently the first coherent words I ever spoke. And of course it was indeed a Saab. Unmistakeable as ever before or since.

  37. @22 – me too – I had an ’02 2.2 TiD hatchback – I thought I was buying what Quentin Wilson sold me as a ‘bullet-proof’ car. It ended up costing me £4k in repairs. I got rid, at a substantial loss. I drive an Alfa Romeo now – another car company with a recent US connection – which worries me greatly – it seems that any European car company, especially one with any individuality, that a US car company gets involved in, ends up virtually bankrupt, and producing c*ap cars full of rubbish US components. Somehow I don’t think Alfa Romeo will last the decade……then what do I buy?

  38. Sorry to see Saab go the way of Rover. I worked with them briefly in the late 90’s. Hope some sort of future can be sorted for at least some of the remaining staff

  39. From that BBC article:

    “Market researchers discovered that many Saab owners were highly educated. “There is a higher proportion of PhDs among Saab customers than among the customer group of any other car brand,” says Simon Dorris, of Lansdowne Consulting.”

    An interesting statistic.
    What other car company can fill that niche?
    At uni, the lecturers car park was filled with Saabs, big (sphered) Citroens and an MGF 🙂

  40. Very sad and almost unbelievable that SAAB have come to this. Despite their difficulties I always thought they would survive with their quality range of cars and to me at least a “Prestige” image.

    I always thought MGRover would trundle on for ever despite continuous drama’s and had similar hopes for Saab. A poor end to the motoring year…

  41. Sad, but a nice salute to such a great company, Keith, and I think we all share your opinion.
    But to my mind, SAAB were dead from the moment GM walked through the door, just like Pontiac and Buick who did great and innovative stuff in the past as well, dying as just a badge on a generic platform.
    At least in the case of SAAB, they had one last chance at doing their own thing.
    Thanks for a nice parting gift Mr Muller.

  42. It is a sad thing to see SAAB go… I never owned one, and I’m really sad that there’s a good chance I never will…

    One comment I would like to add to the discussion, and I hope I got my facts straight…

    GM never understood SAAB, I think that much we agree on, and what GM wanted was volume. GM invested heavily in the factory with borrowed money AFAIK, but instead of investing in the product, they invested in the assembly of it all to make large numbers possible.

    I think you can draw a comparison with Jaguar and Ford, Ford also invested to create volume, hence the X-Type (the reason I probably will never drive a SAAB btw, I love my X-type too much)…

    What both Ford and GM did was invest into more production, but fail to gain customers for those large numbers. When you invest with borrowed money, and your numbers are wrong you do have a problem. And I can’t help but wonder if this was also the case with SAAB… The signs are there, large investments, lower then expected output and even the crazy “let’s make a Caddilac BLS based on a SAAB so we can finaly make a profit” idea they had in Detroit… (Who said the 9-2x was a low point, the 9-7x and BLS score much higher on that list)

    You need a profit to run a factory, and profit means sales minus costs… If costs are too high because “over-optimistic-management” your company is basicly screwed… GM was arrogantly optimistic in hindsight…

    So sad…

  43. I echo the sentiment “So sad…”

    Some time ago I ran a sucession of Saabs. The first one was a 4-door 99 of ’76 vintage, with the 2 litre H type engine, with single carb. Being a ’70’s Saab, it was a bright lime green (same as the rally cars), with dark brown interior. Believe me, it looked better than it sounds.
    That car went everywhere in the UK, and got me through some severe winters, in heated seat comfort. I know it’s sad, but this was one of the only cars I gave a name to. Sven, and I were inseperable. Broke my heart to get rid of it.

    So I went out and got another one. 900 5-door, again single carb H engine. But where the 99 was a paragon of virtue, this one was a real Friday night special. I spent most of my time putting the interior back together, and (shock, horror) it actually blew a head gasket. Once repaired it went.

    Next was a 900 4-door Sedan, light blue, twin carb, with power steering! This restored my faith, and was the second car I gave a name to – Svenson; son of Sven. Again, we went everywhere, and it only went when my father died prematurely, and I was left enough money to trade up.

    So, for a short time, I had a 900 and a 9000 SE 2-litre Turbo 5-door. This was the range – topper at the time and had every concievable option as standard. This was the only car I’ve ever had that after a hard day at work, I would get into, and instantly relax.
    I can see what people said that it wasn’t a “real” Saab, but it’s links with Alfa, Fiat, and even Lancia (the 600) weren’t enough to shake me. It was near enough to the 99, and 900 in my books to qualify.
    But after this my love affair with Saab ended. The take over by GM, platform sharing with “Vauxhall / Opel” just wouldn’t do it for me.

    But the recently launched 9-5 seemed to be the start of a new era; but too little, too late. Sad times indeed.

  44. It is a very sad day, the untimely death of Saab. Like Keith I hold GM in avery big way responsible for its demise. GM never understood the core values of the cars. It should take a close look at Ford who bought Volvo and let it grow and flourish, building upon the brands strengths: safety & reliability. Ford started from there and added pizzaz. GM only saw Saab as a nice trinket in their vast range. The first ‘new’ 900 was a sign the direction Saab would go: down the drains. That 900 was a Saab-ified Vectra for Pete’s sake! After that it went further downhill. Ghastly Saabarus, old, very old cars (9-5 up to 2007 anyone?).
    It’s a bl00dy shame! I hope GM goes flat on its face in China. They just don’t deserve any better.

  45. I agree with the sentiments expressed here.
    I loved the 99 Turbo and always fancied an original 900 Turbo convertible.
    I own an Alfa 156 and share the concern that this company is heading the same way as Saab.159 is not a patch on the 156.
    Subarus have also lost their individuality with the most recent models.
    So what do “thinking individuals buy now?Probably a Skoda Superb estate?

  46. I hope GM you are proud of yourself, as i am afriad it is down to you that a true ‘stand alone’ company for enthusiasts and people who don’t place image and German-ness above all else, has wheeled into automotive heaven. You should stick to building cars that ape the Germans and miss by some considerable margin in the case of the Insignia, and let someone with forethought and imagination take the helm.
    I have an awful feeling 2012 will sound the deathknell for one or two others too as noted above. VW in particular failing to make SEAT the next Alfa, and instead pumping money into the marketing machine that is Audi, because there is zero substance to Audi’s these days, at least with the original A4 and A3 they were matching BMW on quality and not attempting to ape them on dynamics and again missing.
    I think Mitsubishi may well be a gonner too, at least in Europe as a whole gang of local Mitsubishi dealers have recently gone overnight from my local area, i’ll now have a round trip of 90 miles for my 5 years worth of free servicing on my Lancer GS4, which isn’t even available new now!

  47. Looks like Youngman are doing an SAIC on Saab.

    http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/260656/

    Wait til they go bankrupt, then buy the good new platform at a bargain basement price (cf. 75 and ‘Phoenix’ Saab platform), discard of the old collaborative partner (cf. Honda and GM), but without a fully licenced name (cf. Land Rover -> Rover, Saab -> Saab cars).

    So expect to see the Saewe 950 any time soon with a slightly reshaped boot.

  48. To say that GM misunderstood Saab is an understatement; when Ford took over Volvo they seemed to have some ambition for it to flourish in the US, but GM didn’t seem to have the same view of Saab. For example, how many times were Saabs used as product placement in 90s Hollywood films? I can’t remember any, whereas Ford squeezed Volvo into quite a few films where they wanted to portray the brand in a particular way.

    The Saab C900 has been used in (usually British) films for years to highlight a particular character’s individuality and taste – if GM had got it right, this could have been a more modern example. They didn’t bother their shirt ot do so, and the world is a poorer place for their neglect.

  49. In the US they sold Saabs alongside Saturns and Isuzu in dealerships, almost as a budget-import brand.

    They then had Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac dealers to sell slightly more upmarket cars.

    Whereas Ford elevated Volvo to their “Premier Automotive Group”, alongside premier brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar and the upwardly moving Land Rover. (As well as Lincoln that was then removed from it and now sells slightly posher Fords).

  50. I have followed SAAB’s troubles and feel its a great loss. they made different cars for people who are independent tinkers and don’t follow the crowd.
    They were never going to sell in the large numbers that GM wanted, they were a niche manufactuer. But GM sees they were successful and looked at BMW/AUDI & Merc success and thought great a car company with an exclusive name we’ll buy that and create our own BMW/AUDI/Merc, but they failed to undersatnd that SAAB appealed to a different buyer who doesn’t what to follow the crowd and have what everyone else buys. What made VOLVO as well has been completely watered down and is now longer what made VOLVO’s Volvos.
    The Car world is a poorer place for the loss of SAAB.

  51. Product placement of Saabs.

    From what I recall, the journalist who finds out that the world is to be destroyed drove an original Saab 900. It survived getting rammed by secret service Crown Victorias.

    Also, Robert Downey Jr in The Soloist had an NG 900, was useful for the hatchback when he was driving round with a chello.

    Saabs in film or TV – http://www.imcdb.org/vehicles.php?make=SAAB&model=

    Volvos, the one that comes to mind is Dr Wilson out of House. Seen as the more professional and conservative character, this is a somewhat fitting vehicle.

    Volvos in film or TV – http://www.imcdb.org/vehicles.php?make=Volvo&model=

  52. Well said. I have a 900T16S that is utterly brilliant – 213k miles and as solid as the day it was built. I also have a 2001 9-5 Griffin – not in the same class but it is solid, individual and still feels a little bit like a SAAB. GM killed SAAB with its deathless bland stick.

  53. It’s a sad day for the folks in Trollhättan. Ford certainly appeared to take more care of Volvo than GM did of Saab. Geely Volvo seem to be recruiting at the moment, so maybe not all Chinese companies are just after a short term technology gain.

  54. Re Timbo

    Yes…Audi and BMW please. Godawful things that all other manufacturers feel compeled to try and copy (space inefficient, poor riding, tiny incremental development with each new model – the 3 series and A4 are no different to their 1995 predecessors depite being 3 or 4 generations “newer”). Actually, as to who’s next, I suspect that Vauxhall/Opel may be next. They are forecasting a loss of 1 billion in 2012 next year from what I understand. GM wont take that and will plug the gap in Europe with crappy Chevrolets.

  55. Almost pointless to post here as everyone has contributed wise & generally kind thoughts. Something I keep coming back to – Victor Muller only turned his attention to SAAB when Daimler AG beat him to Brawn GP – obviously it went on to become Mercedes F1. This followed Spyker’s previous unsuccessful foray into F1 having purchased Midland (nee Jordan).

    I’ve watched Muller’s stewardship of SAAB with intense interest over the last (almost) couple of years – I think there is no doubt he had the best of intentions regardless of his possibly-dodgey financial backing. Check on Saabsunited for footage of the press conferences on the day of the bankruptcy announcement – the flushed face tells its own story. I think the reality is that he was doomed from Day 1. Only a company with the smarts & resources of a VW could make a success of SAAB. GM continue to be totally clueless – they failed to make anything of the genuine ‘Audi’ opportunity that SAAB truly was.

    I agree with the ‘Saabwe’ train of thought – I think SAAB is dead and the ‘Phoenix’ project (should they have gone with that name?) is at best likely to end-up in China under the Youngman aegis with Swedish engineering input (shades of….) For the record – it will be minus the planned BMW engines – GM is not the only major with interests to protect.

  56. 63 posts about reminiscing about SAAB’s from 15+ years ago.

    Thats why it died unfortunately.

    Good news is SAIC have access to some suddenly unoccupied floorspace in Geneva to wow the world with…

  57. Are you insane? SAAB has been dead for years, the 900 was based on the 99 platform which was totally dated, GM finished the job but by the time GM took on SAAB it was already dead, quirky cars may be fun and enthusiasts liek them but they also need to sell to generate funds for new models etc.

    Look at some of the crap they produced before GM SAAB-Lancia 600 anyone, the SAAb 9000 was the best of a quartet of forgettable cars, Fiat Croma anyone?

    Get over it, not enough investment and poor management decisions…

  58. So sad.

    I had two GM based SAABs – a 900 2.2 auto (I think!) and a 9-3 oil burner.

    The 900 was lovely, and it did 100,000 uncomplaining miles. The 9-3, with its GM engine, was awful. I hated it. Swapped it for an Audi about 9 years ago – an Audi that is still on my drive!

    Loved the brand but the character of the cars just faded away with each new model….

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