Would you believe Lada Samaras, Porsche Boxsters, Saab 96s, Talbot Horizons and Talbot 1501s all being built by the same company under the same roof?
Believe it or not this is what has been happening at different times since 1969 in the Finnish Valmet Automotive plant complex situated in Uusikaupunki (pronounced oo-see-cow-punky) on the south-west coast of Finland, about 140 miles north of Helsinki. All these models, and other niche vehicles from varying manufacturers, have at one time or another rolled down the production lines of this Finnish factory since the first Saab 96 came out on 13 November 1969.
Word and pictures: Graham Arnold
Building Talbots in Finland
Now known as Valmet Automotive, the company is currently an independent European contract manufacturer of premium specialty cars. Originally conceived as a Finnish production and manufacturing facility for Saab cars and established as a joint venture by the Swedish company Saab-Scania AB and the Finnish Valmet Corporation in 1968, Valmet Automotive was originally known as Saab-Valmet. Both the founding companies took a 50% stake each in the new company.
In 1989 the Swedish participation in Saab-Valmet was transferred in two equal parts of 50% each to Saab Automobile which was owned by Saab-Scania and General Motors Corporation. In the spring of 1992 the Valmet Corporation became the sole owner of the company and in September 1995 Saab-Valmet was renamed Valmet Automotive Inc.
Since July 1999 when Valmet Corporation merged with Rauma Corporation, Valmet Automotive Inc has been part of the new founding corporation, Metso Corporation, now one of the world´s leaders in paper processing and automation. Currently Valmet Automotive acounts for about five percent of sales in Metso. In October 2001, Thyssen Krupp Automotive AG, one of the world´s top twenty automotive systems suppliers acquired 10% of the shares of Metso.
Valmet Automotive production
Many different makes and models of vehicles have been produced by Valmet Automotive over the years. Set up initially as Saab-Valmet as a production base for the Saab 95 and 96 models, it has since then produced models as diverse as the Lada Samara, Porsche Boxster and many more Saab models, besides the Talbot Horizon and the 1510. (See table below showing production details for Valmet Corporation´s Talbot production figures).
NB: Because of the tax system in this country at the time, it is thought that some of the Horizon models were converted to run on a type of “petrol” with an octane rating of between 60-70. This was a type of fuel which is normally used in marine engines or in agricultural machinery and these cars acquired a very bad reputation for reliability. However it is not yet clear if these vehicles were actually produced by Valmet Corporation or they were after market conversions. More information would be welcomed.
Pictures of the Valmet Horizon
Article by Graham Arnold