Like so many ill-considered marriages, GM’s entanglement with Saab was destined to end badly. We look back over this unhappy union.
Throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s, GM looked on enviously as its arch-rival Ford carefully and methodically assembled the pieces of what would become its Premier Automotive Group* (PAG), a stable of European premium, sports and luxury car marques to which it would add its own Lincoln and Mercury brands.
Ford began by acquiring an interest in Aston Martin in 1987, then assuming full control in 1991. It purchased Jaguar in 1989, followed by Volvo’s car business a decade later. In 2000, Ford acquired Land-Rover from the wreckage of BMW’s failed ownership of Rover Group, which it folded into the newly formed PAG.
The latter acquisition was particularly painful for GM because, in March 1986, it had agreed the purchase of Land-Rover, then part of the nationalised British Leyland, from the UK government before a public outcry and political pressure forced Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Continue reading “Irreconcilable Differences (Part One)”
Today’s car can claim to be special by dint of its rarity. GM never sold the G6 in Europe and so this vehicle must be one of a very small handful of examples on this side of Atlantic. In Denmark it has no peers**.
Three hypotheses: it came from the US as a by-product of work secondment from the US to Denmark (“We have to bring the Pontiac, Carol”). Two, it is a very specific and personal import for someone who just happened to really like the G6 (“There is nothing like this car, I must have it”). Three: it came to Denmark via a US soldier stationed in Germany (“We have to bring the Pontiac, Nick.”). A quick call might answer that and maybe I’ll find out.
It’s now autumn, a time to reflect. Recently, DTW has been driving Lancias and we have discussed the decline of this once noble marque. It is not the only brand to have faded away.
In the diagram I have marked the timelines of two other defunct brands: Rover and Saab. Rover closed in 2005 and Saab shut up shop in 2011. You’ll notice that while Rover had no new models in the Phoenix years (I don’t count the MG versions), Saab had new product in the pipeline right until the last minute. Lancia’s demise is more muddled.
Already a decade old in 1977, the SAAB 99-series perhaps best embodied the Swedish ideal of ‘Lagom’ .
The 99 saw Saab come of age. A bigger, more commodious, more mainstream model than the somewhat home market-specific 96 series which not only preceded it, but was sold alongside. By 1977, the 99 was a very mature product, and what bugs may have arisen in earlier incarnations were fairly thoroughly expunged. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Just Right?”
In the first of a short series, I will remind readers of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.
The Anadol 16 was produced in Turkey and its appearance raises intriguing questions of authorship. The roofline suggests the generation of Triumph 2500 that never arrived in 1977. The lamps and grille suggest a less-adept bit if in-house creativity. According to the guide the car is based on Reliant designs. According to whichever enthusiast (I sense a native British
This is one of the cars I saw at the Saab Car Museum in Trollhattan, Sweden.
It reminded me of some other 80’s aerodynamic cars of the same time but when I went looking nothing matched. I found a hint of the rear window and boot in the Subaru SVX. More than a few GM concept cars from Oldsmobile, Saturn and Buick had similar surfaces. Yet there wasn’t that one car which made me think: yes, that’s the one. Do our readers have any suggestions?
In our previous instalment we featured the production cars at the Trollhattan museum. Today we turn our attention to the concepts.
Visitors to the Saab museum will notice that prior to the 21st century, Saab did not do very many concept cars but eventually they came and we show them today. The photos are again courtesy of NMJ (apart from the odd one marked “RH”).
DTW is almost nauseously thrilled to be able to present this successor to the legendary Saab 900 ashtray.
A lot is revealed about the Saab 9000 merely by inspecting its ashtrays. The driver and front passenger can use a smoothly-actuating drawer-type unit with a capacity of nearly 200 mls. It’s very well situated and easy to open and close. In the back we find that Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1984 -1998 Saab 9000”
These usually mean big numbers. In Volvo’s case that means only 20,000 annual sales for the S90.
Automotive News mentioned this figure yesterday. There are another 40,000 units annually for the V90. Still, that’s quite modest really. The reviews so far have been good and my static inspection revealed a pleasingly high quality product. Is a figure of 60,000 enough for a firm without multiple brands to
The predecessor of the GM Saab 900 still has the power to turn my head like only the Citroen CX, Jaguar XJ series 3 and Opel Astra F.
However, 22 years later I can see a lot of good in this car too. It’s better than the long-term average at least. The photo shows that the 900 could last. Normally these rubbers bend and get misaligned. Though the car received criticism for its ride it really didn’t deserve the comparisons with concrete-filled tyres. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday- 1994 to 1998 Saab 900”
While the coffin lid appears to have finally slammed shut on Trollhättan’s revenant marque, Driven to Write has unearthed secret plans to exhume the brand name once more.
Following Spyker Cars’ failed 2010 takeover of Saab Automobile, the National Electric Vehicle Sweden company (or NEVS for short) attempted to reanimate Saab’s rapidly cooling corpse by setting itself up as a ‘biofuel industry pioneer’ – a peculiar mission statement for a company with the avowed intention of producing electric cars. After licensing the brand from SAAB AB, (the aerospace division who held the rights to the name), NEVS restarted production of the GM-funded 9-3 model – a small number (about 450) of which were assembled in Trollhättan during 2014. An even smaller number of electric prototypes were also built. Continue reading “SAAB: Dead, But Not (yet) at Rest”
Cars start decaying the moment they are built. Some manage to accumulate character while most don’t. What do you do?
One response is obsessive polishing and maintenance. The other is stoic acceptance. For many the response is to oscillate in between the two, starting with careful stewardship of the new possession. Why do people fight physics? And why is it that cars don’t last longer? Continue reading “Theme: Material – Decay”
Driven to Write salutes the passing of a motoring giant
The motoring world is a little bleaker today following news of the death of Erik Carlsson, Saab’s legendary rally champion and latter-day marque ambassador. Saab may well have made their commercial mark in the 1960s without his exploits on the special stages, forests and safaris of the World Rally championships, but Carlsson’s wins in the underpowered two-stroke 93-series were instrumental in making the world sit up and take notice of those funny looking little cars made in that funny sounding little place called Trollhättan. Continue reading “Obituary: Erik Carlsson – 1929-2015”
The coffin lid groans as the once lifeless corpse reanimates
It was revealed earlier this week that Borgward, the long-dead German quality auto marque will announce their first new vehicle in over 50-years at this year’s Geneva Motor show. Borgward, who last produced cars in 1961, join Saab and Bristol amongst deceased marques making belated and in Saab’s case, serial comebacks from the grave.
At the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, Saab presented a concept that perfectly encapsulated the future direction the marque needed to take. Given the multitude of factors massed against it, its non-adoption was perhaps inevitable, but that didn’t stop enthusiasts howling in frustration and thwarted desire. Derived from earlier 9X concepts, the C-sector 9X BioHybrid concept not only looked fantastic, but also successfully imagined Saab’s entry into a sector that should have proven both lucrative and sustainable – hybrid technology or no. Continue reading “Concepts: Saab 9X BioHybrid”
Okay Saab, we know this is a difficult time for you right now, especially with you being dead and everything. Obviously we’re sorry for your trouble, but if we can be completely candid, this whole thing is starting to get a little unnerving.