Friday, December 18, 2009

The Sad end of Saab

Today, GM announced that it will "wind down" operations at Saab, bringing the end to a unique and special brand. Although I haven't owned one yet, I've always been intrigued by their uniqueness. No one can accuse the early Saabs of being copies of any other car.

When I was about 8 years old, my family was on a vacation trip, and I was just starting to read about the things that make a car a sports car. One evening, we stopped at a motel and there was a Saab 96. Checking it out and reading about it later, I found an aerodynamic body, a monocoque structure with a built in "roll cage" for safety, front wheel drive (sounded exotic to me), independent suspension, and disc brakes. Not only that, it was Swedish back when that description alone meant 'sexy'. From what I could see, the Saab was the complete sports car and I measured every new car I came across against its design and specifications.

So much for the twisted mind of an 8 year old.

Still, Saab was a engineering statement from it first conception. Just look at how it pioneered things which are now common. Its even possible to see the first Honda Insight, even the GM EV1, as modern interpretations of the Saab 96 and its aerodynamics. In the later years, Saab engineers lead the way with efficient turbo technology and engine control electronics.

You could say that the beginning of the end was when Saab was acquired by GM. When Saab just became a more expensive version of a Saturn, then its individuality had evaporated and its ability to stand on its own was lost to the massive GM machine.

I mourn the passing of Saab. One less unique voice in the automotive world.


  1. I too am sad to see Saab go and agree with the comment about GM. I have owned one since 1999. Although it mostly an Opel, it has a Saab engine and some of the traditional Saab design cues.

  2. Ah, but it may not be over yet for Saab according to CNN money today.

  3. Thanks Bruce,

    My fingers are crossed. I would love to be proven wrong and withdraw this post.

  4. Sad to see Saab go. So many things about them. Ignition on the floor, high mass fly wheel. I drove a 99 rally car - great fun. I recall the pig o plastic from car and driver. Although this stuff was from a while ago. I'll still miss it. Like your blog.