Only one aircraft manufacturer makes cars
Spare a moment for poor old Saab. Over the past three years, the once-proud company has endured a humiliating fall from grace that makes MG Rover’s seem like a pleasant walk in the park. First there was the confusion over its buy-out, then the on-off-on affair with Spyker, the hideous attempts to keep it in business, and finally the will-they-won’t-they Chinese take-over. Here at AROnline we feel the pain of Saabophiles everywhere – been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt.
Back in the 1980s, it was all so very different. Saab’s marketing was absolutely brilliant – playing up its connection with the (Volvo-powered) Viggen fighter, selling its turbos to individuals who wanted to be seen as thinking differently. And in the UK, we went for this in a big way – in 1988, the 900 was facelifted, and to show it off, this wonderful advert was created, cementing the automobile/aeroplane link for all it was worth.
Strangely enough, the timelessly styled 900 really did break the rules. The original car was launched in 1978, and was a very effective top-and-tail of the 1967 Saab 99. So, effectively at the time of this advert, the car was 20 years old. Could you imagine that happening today? However, thanks to the appliance of science and technology under the bonnet, as well as satisfactorily large Turbo badges, the 900 T16S oozed buyer appeal. It also helped that it looked good. Different, yes, but good.
Saabs were also very well made back then, and when buyers turned up in the showrooms to sample a 900 T16S at first hand, they loved the chunky controls, the doors that shut with that satisfying bank vault thunk that all rivals simply couldn’t replicate. The view through the wraparound windscreen was clearly special, too… Most buyers would be sold at this point, but it’s good to know that despite the age of its underpinnings, the 900 T16S was also rather a special drive.
And this advert manages to combine all of those factors beautifully – rather moodily – to leave the aspirational ’80s top gun really wanting to own a Saab 900.
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.