Saab Automobile AB (//) was a manufacturer of automobiles that was founded in Sweden in 1945 when its parent company, SAAB AB, began a project to design a small automobile. The first production model, the Saab 92, was launched in 1949. In 1968 the parent company merged with Scania-Vabis, and ten years later the Saab 900 was launched, in time becoming Saab's best-selling model. In the mid-1980s the new Saab 9000 model also appeared.
|Parent||Saab AB (1945–1968)|
General Motors (1990–2010)
Spyker N.V. (2010–2012)
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (2012-present)
In 1989, the automobile division of Saab-Scania was restructured into an independent company, Saab Automobile AB. The American manufacturer General Motors (GM) took 50 percent ownership with an investment of US$600 million. Two well-known models to come out of this period were the Saab 9-3 and the Saab 9-5. Then in 2000, GM exercised its option to acquire the remaining 50 percent for a further US$125 million; so turning Saab Automobile into a wholly owned GM subsidiary. In 2010 GM sold Saab Automobile AB to the Dutch automobile manufacturer Spyker Cars N.V.
After struggling to avoid insolvency throughout 2011, the company petitioned for bankruptcy following the failure of a Chinese consortium to complete a purchase of the company; the purchase had been blocked by the former owner GM, which opposed the transfer of technology and production rights to a Chinese company. On 13 June 2012, it was announced that a newly formed company called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) had bought Saab Automobile's bankrupt estate. According to "Saab United", the first NEVS Saab 9-3 drove off its pre-production line on 19 September 2013. Full production restarted on 2 December 2013, initially the same gasoline-powered 9-3 Aero sedans that were built before Saab went bankrupt, and intended to get the automaker’s supply chain reestablished as it attempted development of a new line of NEVS-Saab products. NEVS lost its license to manufacture automobiles under the Saab name (which the namesake aerospace company still owns) in the summer of 2014 and now produces electric cars based on the Saab 9-3 but under its own new car designation "NEVS".
Svenska Aeroplan AB (1948–1969)
Saab AB, "Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget" (Swedish for "Swedish aeroplane corporation"), a Swedish aerospace and defence company, was created in 1937 in Linköping. The company had been established in 1937 for the express purpose of building aircraft for the Swedish Air Force to protect the country's neutrality as Europe moved closer to World War II. As the war drew to a close and the market for fighter planes seemed to weaken, the company began looking for new markets in which to diversify.
An automobile design project was started in 1945 with the internal name "X9248". The design project became formally known as "Project 92"; the 92 being next in production sequence after the Saab 91, a single engine trainer aircraft. In 1948, a company site in Trollhättan was converted to allow automobile assembly and the project moved there, along with the car manufacturing headquarters, which has remained there since. The company made four prototypes named "Ursaab" or "original Saab", numbered 92001 through to 92004, before designing the production model, the Saab 92, in 1949.
The Saab 92 went into production in December 1949, selling 20,000 cars through the mid-1950s. The 92 was thoroughly redesigned and re-engineered in 1955, and was renamed the "Saab 93". The car's engine gained a cylinder, going from two to three and its front fascia became the first to sport the first incarnation of Saab's trademark trapezoidal radiator grill. A wagon variant, the Saab 95, was added in 1959. The decade also saw Saab's first performance car, the Saab 94, the first of the Saab Sonetts.
1960 saw the third major revision to the 92's platform in the Saab 96. The 96 was an important model for Saab: it was the first Saab to be widely exported out of Sweden. The unusual vehicle proved very popular, selling nearly 550,000 examples. Unlike American cars of the day, the 93, 95 and 96 all featured the 3-cylinder 2-cycle engine, which required adding oil to the gasoline tank, front-wheel drive, and freewheeling, which allowed the driver to downshift the on-the-column manual shifter without using the clutch. Front seat shoulder belts were also an early feature.
Even more important to the company's fortunes was 1968's Saab 99. The 99 was the first all-new Saab in 19 years and a clean break from the 92. The 99 had many innovations and features that would come to define Saabs for decades: wraparound windscreen, self-repairing bumpers, headlamp washers and side-impact door beams. The design by Sixten Sason was no less revolutionary than the underlying technology, and elements like the Saab hockey stick profile graphic continue to influence Saab design.
The 99 range was expanded in 1973 with the addition of a combi coupe model, a body style which became synonymous with Saab. The millionth Saab was produced in 1976.
Saab entered into an agreement with Fiat in 1978 to sell a rebadged Lancia Delta as the Saab 600 and jointly develop a new platform. The agreement yielded 1985's Saab 9000, sister to the Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema; all rode atop a common Type Four chassis. The 9000 was Saab's first proper luxury car but failed to achieve the planned sales volume.
1978 also was the first year for the 99's replacement: the Saab 900. Nearly one million 900s would be produced, making it Saab's best-selling and most iconic model. A popular convertible version followed in 1986, all of which were made at the Saab-Valmet factory in Finland, making up nearly 20% of 900 sales. Even today, the "classic 900" retains a cult following.
General Motors and Investor AB (1989–2000)
In 1989, the Saab car division of Saab-Scania was restructured into an independent company, Saab Automobile AB, headquartered in Sweden; General Motors and Investor AB controlled 50% each. GM's investment of US$600 million gave it the option to acquire the remaining shares within a decade. General Motors' involvement spurred the launch of a new 900 in 1994. The new car shared a platform with the Opel Vectra. Due in large part to its success, Saab earned a profit in 1995 for the first time in seven years. However, the model never achieved the cult following of the "classic 900" and did not achieve the same reputation for quality.
1997 marked Saab's 50th anniversary as an automaker. The company used its jubilee owners' convention to launch a replacement for the aging 9000: the Saab 9-5. The 900 received a facelift and renaming complementary to its new larger sibling: it would now be called the Saab 9-3. The 9-5 was the first Saab without a combi coupé body style option in 20 years. Filling that space was a wagon variant, introduced in 1999.
General Motors (2000–2010)
GM exercised its option to acquire the remaining Saab shares in 2000, spending US$125 million to turn the company into a wholly owned subsidiary.
The new close relationship yielded its first product in 2003's all-new 9-3. The new model, marketed as a sport sedan, dropped Saab's iconic hatchback in favour of a more conventional four-door approach. The model shared a co-developed platform (GM's "global Epsilon 1 platform") and some other components with the Opel Vectra again, but the relationship was much more of a joint engineering effort than before.
Under GM's direction, the badge-engineered Saab 9-2X (based on the Subaru Impreza) and Saab 9-7X (based on the Chevrolet Trailblazer) were introduced in the American market in 2005 with the hope of increasing sales. Both models were a critical and commercial failure and were cancelled a few years after production began. GM also delayed the 9-3 wagon by three years, shelved a hatchback derivative of the 9-3 sedan, stalled plans for all-wheel-drive capabilities in Saab models until 2008, cancelled a 9–5 replacement in 2005, and announced a planned shift of production away from Saab's historic home in Trollhättan to Opel's factory in Rüsselsheim.
Owing to fading fortunes across its entire business, GM announced that the Saab brand was "under review" in December 2008, a process which included the possibility of selling or shuttering the car maker. Reportedly, 27 potential buyers emerged, including BMW, Fiat, Geely, Hyundai, Magna, Renault and Tata Motors; serious talks progressed with three bidders: the Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg, Merbanco and Renco Group.
As the talks progressed, GM's support receded, and Saab went into administration, the Swedish equivalent of America's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Saab's managing director Jan-Åke Jonsson said that this was "the best way to create a truly independent entity that is ready for investment". For its part, the Swedish government was reluctant to become involved, with Maud Olofsson, industry minister, stating: "The Swedish state and taxpayers in Sweden will not own car factories. Sometimes you get the impression that this is a small, small company but it is the world's biggest automaker so we have a right to make demands."
On 16 June 2009, Koenigsegg announced its intention to purchase the brand from GM. The bid was backed by a group of Norwegian investors and the Chinese car maker Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co Ltd (BAIC). The following month, both parties announced that GM had consented to the deal. There were outstanding financial details, but a loan from the European Investment Bank was expected to cover them. The loan was approved in October, but on November 24, 2009, Koenigsegg announced that it had "come to the painful and difficult conclusion that it could no longer carry out the acquisition." much because of the constant delays and the difficulties coordinating the involved parties; GM, the European Investment Bank, the Swedish National Debt Office and BAIC.
It was announced on 14 December 2009, that the Chinese automaker would acquire the intellectual property rights and production equipment for the previous generation Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 in a deal worth about US$197 million, which was enough for the company to run for three months. BAIC expressed its intention to create a new brand around the purchased technology and admitted to the purchase of "three overall vehicle platforms, two engine technologies and two transmission systems."
Following the collapse of talks with Koenigsegg, GM announced that the brand would be eliminated in 2010 if it failed to secure a buyer before the close of 2009. As talks with several firms failed, including the Netherlands-based boutique supercar maker Spyker, GM formally announced its intention to wind down the Saab brand.
Undeterred, a new offer round materialized. Earlier bidders Spyker and Merbanco revised their offers and were joined by a submission from Luxembourg-based Genii Capital, which boasted the support of F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. GM continued accepting bids until a self-imposed deadline of January 7, 2010. Acknowledging that the chances for reaching a deal with any party were very slim, they pledged to evaluate each offer with due diligence.
Spyker/Swedish Automobile (2010–2011)
2010 – purchase of Saab
On 26 January, General Motors (GM) confirmed it had agreed to sell Saab to Spyker N.V.. subject to regulatory and government approval; the sale was completed on February 23, 2010. General Motors would continue to supply Saab with engines and transmissions, and also completed vehicles in the shape of the new Saab 9-4x from GM's Mexican factory. The deal included a loan from the European Investment Bank, guaranteed by the Swedish government. It comprised US$74m in cash up front, payable to GM by July 2010, and shares in Spyker to the tune of US$320m.
2011 – bankruptcy
On February 25, Spyker Cars N.V. announced that it had agreed to sell the sports car arm to focus on Saab. Spyker intended to change its name, in May, to include the Saab name.
In early 2011, Saab began to run out of money, and Spyker were not able to cover the losses. Both companies stopped paying bills, and on March 30 several suppliers refused further deliveries to Saab's factory in Trollhättan. Initially Spyker CEO Victor Muller blamed the media for the problems, and claimed that Saab had no problems with funding. On April 5 all production was halted at Saab's plant in Trollhättan.
Spyker CEO Victor Muller tried to obtain funding from several different sources. On March 30 his former sponsor, Russian banker Vladimir Antonov applied to Swedish authorities, EIB and General Motors for permission to become a shareholder in Saab. His request was denied by the EIB, citing concerns about his business practices.
Plans for a new joint venture with Chinese carmaker Youngman and Chinese automotive retailer Pang Da followed shortly. After months of negotiations the companies agreed to a joint US$140 million takeover of Saab Automobile and its UK dealer network unit from Swedish Automobile, with Youngman and Pang Da taking 60 and 40 percent stakes respectively.
On 6 December, GM announced that it would not continue its licenses to GM patents and technology to Saab if the company was sold to Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman, stating that the new owner's use of the technology is not in the best interest of GM investors. Because of this, Saab started working on a new proposal which would not change the original ownership structure and would not include a Chinese partner as an owner of the company, but instead as a 50% owner of a new daughter company.
On 19 December 2011, with no alternatives left after GM continued to block any form of involvement with a Chinese partner, Saab officially filed for bankruptcy after a three-year fight for survival. Under Sweden's bankruptcy laws, a party that files for bankruptcy can be bought out of bankruptcy.
On 16 April 2012, a meeting on Saab’s bankruptcy was held at the District Court of Vänersborg. The official receivers in charge of the Saab liquidation valued the assets at us$500m and the debt at US$2,000m. After subtracting the value of the assets, Saab leaves a debt of US$1,500m.
2012 – US$3 billion damages claim
On 6 August 2012, Spyker, represented by the law firm Patton Boggs, filed a lawsuit against General Motors in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan claiming US$3 billion in damages for the actions GM took in the fall of 2011 to stop the various proposed deals between Spyker and Youngman concerning Saab Automobile where Youngman claimed to be ready to invest several billion dollars in Saab Automobile to guarantee its future. More precisely, under the Automotive Technology License Agreement (ATLA) between GM Global Technology Operations Inc (GTO) and Saab, GM refused licensing of the platforms and technology in Saab cars if any Chinese party were to be involved in Saab's ownership structure.
To solve this issue, Spyker and Youngman came up with a deal where Youngman would provide Saab with a loan of €200 million which would be converted into an equity interest in Saab only after Saab ceased using GM technology in its vehicles. Despite this, GM maintained that it would still refuse licensing of platforms and technology needed for production of Saab cars in Trollhättan and also threatened to cease 9-4X production at GM's plant in Mexico, should the deal go through.
Consequently, the deal finally collapsed and Saab was forced to file for bankruptcy. According to Spyker, the actions taken by GM were not legal. Since Saab had been in receivership since the bankruptcy, and would be until the deal with Nevs was closed, Spyker and the receivers of Saab Automobile had entered into an agreement where Spyker would bear the costs of the litigation in exchange for 90% of the claim if the case is successful.
2013 – claim dismissed
In June 2013, the district court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that General Motors was within its rights to block the sale. In October 2014, the district court of appeals upheld the dismissal.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (2012–2014)
On 13 June 2012, a press conference was held announcing that the main assets of Saab Automobile AB and its subsidiaries Saab Automobile Powertrain AB and Saab Automobile Tools AB as well as the Saab factory had been acquired by a Chinese consortium called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). Saab Automobile Parts AB was not included in the deal and the Swedish National Debt Office would continue as an owner of that company. NEVS' plan was to build only purely electric vehicles with an electric version of the current 9-3 model available in 2013/2014, as well as to continue development of the replacement to the 9-3, the Phoenix. GM continued to refuse licensing of the technology in the Saab 9-5 and 9-4X, so these models would not be produced. The rights to use the Saab trademark had not yet been granted by Saab AB and Scania AB and negotiations on that matter continued.
On 26 August 2012, Scania AB let the Swedish press know that the griffin logo used in both Scania's and Saab Automobile's trademark would not be allowed for use on future Saab cars with NEVS as the owner of Saab Automobile. Scania believed the logo is of high value in China and feared that it would end up in the wrong hands through the Chinese interests behind NEVS.
On 3 September 2012, NEVS announced that it had finalized the acquisition of Saab Automobiles assets. NEVS would be able to use the name Saab on future cars but not the griffin logo. Production of the 9-3 would initially focus on a turbo-charged petrol variant, but an electric version - initially aimed at the Chinese market - would start production in 2014.
On 8 January 2013, NEVS announced a deal with Qingdao Qingbo Investment Co. Ltd, for a 22% stake in the company. In return, NEVS/Saab would receive SEK 2bn, along with a production facility for models sold in China. Cars sold in North America and most of Europe would continue to be made in Trollhättan, Sweden. The possibility of using Fiat/Chrysler sourced drive train components for non- electric models was also being examined.
On 12 August 2013, the Saab plant at Trollhättan reopened its doors to welcome back employees for preparations and restructuring of the production line. Production of the existing 9-3 would commence shortly with a new electric motor, while Saab finished the preparations for the new 9-3 Phoenix.
On 19 September 2013, the first Saab-branded vehicle produced by NEVS rolled off of the assembly line. The first pre-production model was mostly aesthetically identical to the previous Saab 9-3 and mainly used to test new components and assembly line equipment. NEVS announced a facelift of the exterior to be shown on a finalised production model. On 29 November 2013 NEVS announced that full-scale production would commence on 2 December 2013, having replaced the 20 percent of parts originally sourced from former Saab owner General Motors.
Production of the gasoline version of the Saab 9-3 resumed in December 2013, and on 10 December 2013 NEVS started selling their Saab 9-3 Aero to Swedish customers directly from their homepage, but on 20 May 2014 NEVS announced that production had been stopped, 100 consultants had had to be laid off and 53 blue-collar and 19 white-collar workers had been given notice that their contracts would not be prolonged after the summer. According to NEVS, this was due to Qingdao Qingbo Investment Co Ltd not fulfilling their commitment to finance NEVS operations which had forced NEVS main owner Kai Johan Jiang to fund operations for several months through private funds as well as through assets in NEVS parent company National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd.
On 27 May 2014, NEVS communication officer Mikael Östlund confirmed through a video interview that NEVS was in talks with two large automobile companies regarding funding of operations and co-development of the Phoenix platform.
On 9 June 2014, Swedish media reported that a number of companies had filed debts from NEVS at the National Enforcement Agency in Sweden for a total sum of 10.4 million SEK.
On 28 August 2014, NEVS itself filed for bankruptcy protection.
On 29 August 2014, Saab AB announced it was cancelling the licensing agreement that allows NEVS to use the Saab name. NEVS' financial problems were cited as the reason. A spokesman for NEVS said that the company expects to renegotiate the agreement after a solution to the company's financial problems is reached.
By June 2015, NEVS had acquired two new Chinese partners, an IT company and a development authority for the city of Tianjin. Both are state-owned. In late June, NEVS began construction of a factory in Tianjin, with the goal of manufacturing electric cars for the Chinese market. As of this point, NEVS has not re-acquired the rights to the Saab name, and it is developing a new brand for the Chinese market. There was no indication that restarting production at the plant in Trollhättan, Sweden was planned.
On June 21, 2016, NEVS announced they will no longer use the Saab trademark, instead using their company name on its car, which will still be based on the Saab 9-3 platform. The first NEVS car went into production in 2017.
Saab's total world production in 2008 was 90,281 vehicles produced in three countries. Production declined sharply in 2009, as new owners struggled to deal with the company's mounting financial problems. Production was suspended until late 2013, when the new ownership launched a limited run of 2014 model year 9-3 sedans.
|Country||Cars (2013)||Cars (2010)||Cars (2009)||Cars (2008)||Cars (2007)||Models|
|162||32,048||20,950||75,073||102,915||9–3 Sedans, Wagon, and Convertible, 9-5 Sedan and Wagon|
|0||457||0||0||0||9-4x (Q2 2011)|
Saab manufactured various models at the Valmet Automotive plant in Uusikaupunki, Finland, between 1969 and 2003, in a joint venture established in 1968 together with Valmet. After 2003 Saab did not manufacture any cars in Finland, as the production of the 9-3 convertible then moved to Graz, Austria. In 2010 production of the 9-3 convertible was moved again to Trollhättan. This marked the first time that Trollhättan manufactured the 9-3 convertible.
A common feature of Saab car types was the use of the number 9 in the model numbers. The final models were the 9-3 and 9-5, both of which were manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden. Until 2008, the 9-7X was manufactured by GM along with the Chevrolet Trailblazer and its platform-mates. The exception to this naming rule is the Saab-Lancia 600, which was a re-badged Lancia Delta.
In December 2013, Nevs announced that the Saab 9-3 sedan was back in regular production, with convertible, station wagon, and electric models to follow in the next year. Production stopped in 2014.
- Saab 98, combi-coupé version of the Saab 96
- all-terrain vehicle based on the Saab Sonett II chassis
- Saab 9-3 electric model
- Saab 9-3 convertible
- Saab 9-3 station wagon
- Saab 9-3 third generation, based on the PhoeniX platform
- Unnamed Saab 9-3 replacement, production had been planned for October 2012
- Saab 9-2, inspired by the classic Saab 92. Production had been planned for 2014.
- Saab 92 and descendants:
- Saab 92 (1949–56)
- Saab 93 (1955–60)
- Saab GT750 (1958–60)
- Saab 94 Sonett I (1956)
- Saab 95 estate (1959–78)
- Saab 96 (1960–80)
- Saab 97
- Saab Formula Junior single seat racing car (1960)
- SaabO caravan/camper/travel trailer (1964–1968)
- Saab 99 and descendents:
- Saab 600 (1985–1988)
- Saab 9000 (1985–1998)
- Saab 900 "New Generation" (1994–1998)
- Saab 9-3 first generation (1998–2002)
- Saab 9-2X (2005–2006)
- Saab 9-7X (2005–2009)
- Saab 9-5 first generation (1997–2009)
- Saab 9-3 SportSedan (2003–2011) second generation
- Saab 9-3 Convertible (2004–2011), (2012 by ANA) second generation
- Saab 9-3 SportCombi (2006–2011) second generation
- Saab 9-3X (2009–2011)
- Saab 9-5 (2010–2011) second generation
- Saab 9-4X (June 2011 – December 2011)
- Saab 9-3 compact executive car (second generation) (2002–2011, 2013–2014)
Concepts and prototypes
- Saab 92 line:
- Saab EV-1 (1985)
- Saab 900 line:
- Saab Viking (1982)
- Saab 9000 line:
- Saab 9XX Concept (1991)
- Saab 9-X line:
- Saab Aero-X (2006)
- Saab PhoeniX (2011)
- 1958: The GT 750 is the first Saab car fitted with seatbelts as standard.
- 1963: Saab becomes the first volume maker to offer diagonally split dual brake circuits.
- 1969: Saab creates an ignition system near the gearstick – instead of behind the steering wheel like most cars – in an attempt to reduce the very common serious and permanent knee injuries during collisions, caused by the knee impacting the key.
- 1970: Saab introduces a world-first – headlamp wipers and washers.
- 1971: Heated front seats are introduced, the first time in the world they are fitted as standard.
- 1971: Saab develops the impact-absorbing, self-repairing bumper.
- 1976: Saab was the first manufacturer to produce a turbo engine with wastegate to control boost.
- 1978: Saab introduces another 'world-first,' the passenger compartment air filter (pollen filter).
- 1980: Saab introduces Automatic Performance Control (APC), and an anti-knock sensor that allowed higher fuel economy and the use of lower grade fuel without engine damage.
- 1981: Saab introduces the split-field side mirror. This reduces the driver's blind spot.
- 1982: Saab introduces asbestos-free brake pads.
- 1983: Saab introduces the 16-valve turbocharged engine
- 1985: Saab pioneers direct ignition, eliminating the distributor and spark plug wires.
- 1991: Saab introduces a 'light-pressure' turbo.
- 1991: Saab is the first manufacturer to offer CFC-free air-conditioning.
- 1991: Saab develops its 'Trionic' engine management system, equipped with a 32-bit micro-processor.
- 1993: Saab introduces the 'Sensonic clutch' and the 'Black Panel', later to be called the 'Night Panel'.
- 1993: Saab develops the 'Safeseat' rear passenger protection system.
- 1994: Saab introduces the 'Trionic T5.5' engine management system, its processor is a Motorola 68332.
- 1995: Saab presents an asymmetrically turbocharged V6 at the Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
- 1996: Saab introduces active head restraints (SAHR), which help minimize the risk of whiplash.
- 1997: Saab introduces Electronic Brake-force Distribution
- 1997: Saab fits ventilated front seats to their new 9-5.
- 1997: Saab introduces ComSense; an alert delay feature that reduces the risk of distraction by briefly postponing lower priority alerts when the brakes or indicators are activated
- 2000: Saab introduces SVC; a Variable Compression, an engine in which the compression ratio is varied by tilting the cylinder head in relation to the pistons.
- 2002: Saab developed an independent, multi-link, rear suspension system on the new Saab 9-3 known as "ReAxs", a system which provides crisp steering feedback and contributes to enhanced driving stability in curves
- 2002: Saab unveils the second-generation Saab Active Head-Restraint system, known as SAHR2, in the new Saab 9-3 sedan
- 2003: Saab introduces CargoSET; automatic storage well retraction for the convertible, a two-step tonneau action for quicker soft-top deployment
- 2008: Saab introduces Cross-wheel drive, an advanced all-wheel drive system with eLSD. Saab brands this systems as "XWD"
Safety has a high priority in the design of Saab cars. The cars are subjected to the Älgtest (elk test) as elk are a common cause of accidents in Sweden. Saab have compiled a database containing over 6,100 real-life accidents with Saabs. The first recorded event was in 1948 where Julian Shermis had an accident.
All modern Saabs (except the 9000 and 9-2X) have a floor-mounted ignition. This is for many reasons, some of which follow: Saab believes this is a safer position in case of an accident. The driver's knee often jerks upward in a collision; the compact and dense ignition module on the steering column of many other cars has shattered many kneecaps. Saabs have bolstered dashboards for both front seat occupants. Also, the floor-mounted position yields more space, allowing modern Saabs to have a metal bar that rotates over and up into the ignition when the key is turned to the "Lock" position. This makes Saabs very challenging to hot-wire. Ergonomically, the ignition's location next to the parking brake lever, gearshift, and seatbelt, saves time. Last of all, the ignition is located on the floor because, in the aircraft that inspired Saab automobiles, the throttle controls were all located on the floor. Originally Saabs also had the key located on the right side of the steering column, but when they changed from a column shift to a floor shift, the ignition key followed, except in the Sonett III and 9000.
In October 1986, the Saab Long Run took place. Three standard Saab 9000 Turbos set two world records and 21 international records at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama, USA. 100,000 km (62,000 mi) were covered with an average speed of 213.299 km/h (132.537 mph) and 50,000 miles (80,000 km) with an average speed of 213.686 km/h (132.778 mph).
Ten years later, in 1996, three standard Saab 900 (NG) Turbos driven by factory test drivers and two standard naturally aspirated Saab 900s driven by journalists set new world records on the same speedway.
In early December 2006, a Wisconsin traveling salesman donated his 1989 Saab 900 SPG (Special Performance Group) to the Wisconsin Automotive Museum after amassing 1,001,385 miles (1,611,573 km) on the original factory engine. This mileage was verified by Saab.
Marketing and ownership
Dating back to 1937, Svenska Aeroplan AB (Saab) created airplanes, introducing its first car, the Saab 92001, in 1947. Currently, Saab AB is separate from Saab Automobile and is best known for its old Saab 37 Viggen fighter aircraft (the Viggen badge would be shared by a 9-3) and its successor, the current export success low cost JAS 39 Gripen swing-role fighter. This has led to an ad campaign, "Born From Jets", evoking the days when Saab produced both aircraft and automobiles. Saab is imported into many countries; each has a president of the subsidiary or importer. In the US, the first president was Mr. R. Millet.
In 1987, Saab created a TV advertisement called "Saab suite" (subtitled Ballet in 3 acts for 8 Saab 9000 Turbos). In the film, stunt drivers show incredible driving with stock cars, such as one-wheeled burnouts, bumper-to-bumper driving through a slalom, cars slaloming from opposite directions on the same course, two-wheel driving, sliding in full speed, and jumping over passing cars—all on a closed airport runway with classical music playing in the background.
To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Saab formed a Performance Team in 1987, which laid on exhibitions of automobile acrobatics and formation driving. Initially this was done with Saab 9000s, as above, then later models, such as the Saab 900 (NG) were used. All of the team's members have previously competed in rallies, but what's unusual is that all five Performance Team members held regular jobs at Saab: there are two engineers, a quality controller, a technician and the head of Saab's photo studio. The picture shows these vehicles on display at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Saab Aircraft Company, at Linköping, in 1997.
A Hewlett-Packard CPU-support chip features a Saab 900 Turbo 16 Cabriolet etched into its structure.
Ownership and brand loyalty
As the brand has an unusual image in most markets, Saab owners tend to be correspondingly offbeat: intellectuals and enthusiasts. In his studies of brand communities, Albert Muniz, professor of marketing at DePaul University in Chicago, found significant characteristics of Saab owners which he called Snaabery. These included ownership of an original, pre-GM Saab; camaraderie with other Saab drivers and contempt for other brands such as BMW. Writer John Crace characterised the typical "Snaab" as a creative advertising executive with large spectacles and an asymmetric hairstyle. Rüdiger Hossiep, a psychologist at Ruhr University Bochum, found that Saab drivers have the highest level of psychological involvement with their cars, being over 10 times more passionate than the average Volkswagen driver. Saab's main three markets were Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- The Swedish Car with Aircraft Quality (first English slogan)
- Go Swift – Go Safe – Go Saab (advertisement page – 1970s FIA Year Book)
- The most intelligent cars ever built. (1980s)
- Find your own road. (1990s)
- A Saab will surrender its own life to save yours. (1990s)
- Welcome to the State of Independence (early 2000s decade; United States)
- Born From Jets. (2003–09; United States, Canada)
- Move Your Mind. (final global slogan)
- People Who Test Drive a Saab, Usually Buy One
- It's A Pity Other Cars Aren't Built This Way
- We don’t make compromises. We make Saabs.
- Saab. It's what a car should be.
- Beyond the conventional (1990s United Kingdom).
- The Command Performance Car.
- The Well-Built Swede
Literature and the arts
The Saab 900 Turbo was James Bond's vehicle of choice in many of the John Gardner Bond novels of the 1980s, beginning with Licence Renewed. In the second novel, For Special Services, the 900 was dubbed the "Silver Beast". The car is Bond's private vehicle that he had outfitted with various gadgets by the real-life company Communication Control Systems Ltd (CCS). In conjunction with the release of Licence Renewed, Saab had a real "Silver Beast" created that was virtually identical to the specifications in the book. The car is currently in the Saab Museum in Trollhättan, Sweden.
In the series Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld usually drove a Saab 900S Cabrio with no Turbo. The Saab plays a prominent role in several episodes, in one, getting stolen by Jerry's mechanic, "for the car's best interests".
In an essay originally published in In These Times in November 2004 entitled Have I Got A Car For You, writer Kurt Vonnegut recounts his experiences as owner and operator of a Saab dealership in West Barnstable, Massachusetts and humorously claims that his criticism of Swedish engineering is the reason he was never awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. The essay also appeared in the 2005 anthology A Man Without A Country.
The song "Diane Young" by Vampire Weekend from their 2013 album Modern Vampires of the City opens with the line, "You torched a Saab like a pile of leaves." The music video for the single features a burning Saab 900. The Lil’ Kim song "Gettin’ Money (Get Money Remix)" contains the lyrics "Convertible Saab/I’m married to the mob". The music video for "Song Cry" with Jay-Z features a Saab 900 Turbo convertible. The video for Peter Peter Hughes' "My God Is An Angry God (Juan Manuel Fangio Castiga Los Pecados Del Mundo)" prominently features a Saab 900 Aero. A black Saab 900 Turbo was a plot point in the movie Moving (1988 film) featuring Richard Pryor.
In August 2014 a Swedish book, Saabs sista strid was published, chronicling Saab's last year and spiral into bankruptcy. The author is Swedish financial journalist Jens B. Nordström.
Saab had a factory rally team with successful drivers, Erik "On-the-Roof" Carlsson, Tom Trana, Simo Lampinen, Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund. The team stopped competing in 1980. In 2012 a new Saab rally team took part in the classic historic Midnattssolsrallyt (Rally to the Midnight Sun). The S2AB Historic Rally team entered four Saab 99 Turbos, driven by ex-champions Ola Strömberg, Erik Uppsäll, Travis Decker and Jörgen Trued. S2AB (Swedish Advanced Automotive Business) is the company led by Magnus Roland, former chassis manager at Saab.
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