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A Requiem For Saab 438

Posted by kdawson
from the just-call-me-baab dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that auto enthusiasts across the country are dismayed by the news that General Motors is planning to shut down Saab, the Swedish carmaker it bought two decades ago, after a deal to sell it fell apart. Even with its modest and steadily declining sales, Saab, an acronym for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, or Swedish Airplane Company, long stood out as a powerful brand in spite of itself. 'It wasn't designed to be a fashion statement,' says Ron Pinelli, president of Autodata, which tracks industry statistics. 'It was designed to provide transportation under miserable weather conditions.' Many Saab owners consider the brand's glory days to be the 1980s, when Americans began buying cars again after a recession and energy crisis. 'The cars were communicative,' says Pinelli. 'They didn't try to numb the experience like cars do today.' The cars had odd touches and appealed to those who appreciate the unconventional. Swedish engineers assumed drivers would be wearing gloves, so they designed big buttons for the dashboard. Though the cars were compact, with long hoods and short rear ends, there was plenty of headroom inside. Now Saab, a brand that once had one of the clearest identities in the industry, seems headed for extinction just as automakers are searching for more distinctive designs to help set them apart. 'It's a shame that Saab is a victim,' adds Pinelli."
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A Requiem For Saab

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:13AM (#30503420)

    Saab Story.

    *rimshot*

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      Latest news is that Spyker haven't given up completely yet. They are right now handing in a new bid and it's up to GM to decide if they want to sell.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by segedunum (883035)

        Latest news is that Spyker haven't given up completely yet. They are right now handing in a new bid and it's up to GM to decide if they want to sell.

        I wouldn't hold your breath. Vauxhall in Britain and Opel in Germany were all set to be sold, with German government money there no less, and GM did a sleight-of-hand and changed their minds.

    • by reporter (666905) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @10:05AM (#30503680) Homepage
      In the middle of this decade, General Motors (GM) owned part of both Saab and Subaru and attempted to save some money by re-badging a Subaru as a Saab and calling the finished product "Saab 9-2X". This single act signaled the end of Saab. Though Subaru has acceptable quality, the re-badging destroys the Saab mystique. You would encounter the same problem if Ford had re-badged the Mazda RX-8 as a "Mustang".

      Nonetheless, you need not cry for Saab. It will live again. According to a news report [wsj.com] just issued by the "Wall Street Journal", Spyker has made another offer to buy Saab. This time, we have the real deal.

      • You would encounter the same problem if Ford had re-badged the Mazda RX-8 as a "Mustang".

        I don't know. Ford rebranded an F-150 truck chassis as a "Lincoln", and it didn't seem to hurt them.

        • by Z00L00K (682162)

          The customers of today really don't care about brand - too many identical products are provided under the same brand with just some differences in styling.

          And the latest version of the Subaru Legacy has some visual similarities to the Saab 9-5. But that's hardly surprising - since many different car brands do share the same style - even if the owners are different. In the end it's the designers that are hired that share ideas. Just look at how tail lights look on various cars from different years.

        • by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @12:12PM (#30504380) Homepage

          Ford rebranded an F-150 truck chassis as a "Lincoln", and it didn't seem to hurt them.

          That's because "Lincoln = Ford + extra shiny bits" has been in effect for at least 40 years.

      • by stuntpope (19736)

        Gad. I hated the Saabarus and what GM did.

        The quote in this story, "(SAAB) wasn't designed to be a fashion statement, it was designed to provide transportation under miserable weather conditions." tells the story of when Saab was at its best. In the GM years, at least in the US, Saab took the path of expensive Euro car. Saabs and Volvos both used to drive a bit like trucks, but they felt secure and solid. Trying to market Saabs as a Swedish BMW failed - people looking for the cachet of BMW will buy BMW.

  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:14AM (#30503424)

    1. Who owned SAAB before?
    2. If it is such a good brand, why don't those previous owners buy it back?

    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:24AM (#30503454) Homepage

      It was owned by an investment company called Investor. And they were just interested in cashing in money.

      It seems like GM was mostly interested in technology and mot much in brand identity. The last decade of Saab has really went from something with at least some identity to something very average that can't compete with Toyota or other brands.

      And since Saab was just another brand in the GM portfolio - and a small one - they weren't too keen on promoting it. Selling an Opel or Chevrolet would add more to the GM identity.

      • by cyclocommuter (762131) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:37AM (#30503510)
        This is not much different from a big company like Microsoft acquiring/buying a smaller company... sooner or later the smaller company gets its life suck out of it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Agreed. I owned a 1994 900S for years. I liked it but the repair costs were atrocious. That said, it had nearly 200k miles on it and was still very dependable when I got rid of it.

        In the later years GM tried to rework Saab as a traditional luxury brand a la Audi/Infinity/Lexus by watering down Saab's classic quirkiness. Loyal fans were alienated and there were too few advantages to win over fans of the competing brands. It's death is not surprising.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by OzPeter (195038)

        Selling an Opel or Chevrolet would add more to the GM identity.

        If only GM would sell a decent Opel here. I have owned the Vectra and loved it, and spent a lot of time in Italy with a rented Astra - 1.8l 4 speed 200km/hr on the flat.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by alder (31602)

          If only GM would sell a decent Opel here.

          Rejoice! ;-) It is coming. Buick regal 2010 [insideline.com] is actually the Opel Insignia with swapped grille and logo. Initially it will be even built in Germany [74.125.95.132] moving later to Canada [gm.com].

    • by aussersterne (212916) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:36AM (#30503502) Homepage

      I lose any interest in the brand the moment an American company buys it, because I know that the quality of the "American version" isn't going to hold a candle to the Swedish version. Once the Americans get their grubby little hands on it and start to try to integrate it into their manufacturing and supply chain and QC practices, the car's gonna just be another Chevy.

      If I wanted a Chevy, I'd buy a chevy.

      I'm finally getting ready to replace my '84 with 300k miles on it. When I do, I'm buying used, and I'm buying the "last Swedish year." I'm not touching any GM Saabs or Ford Volvos.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        At some point it will be quite hard to find those in good condition; or registration of vehicles not abhorring to some emission norms will be impossible (you will be only able to continue owning them) - that last part quite soon in Sweden when compared even to rest of Europe, I imagine.

        What then? ;/

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maestroX (1061960)
      Among other cars, I've owned Saabs from the 80s. Till the 80s, Saab delivered innovation, comfort, ergonomics and durability. At a price though, because comparable cars (i.e. Volvo's, BMW 5 series) were cheaper and in some respects, better; I think this is the major reason for decline in sales until 1989 en the sell-out to GM in 1989.

      IMO Saab is dead since 1989. The innovation, comfort and ergonomics just didn't improve at the rate competitors did, and seemed bad rehashes of existing stuff; the 9-7x was
  • And why do I care? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wjsteele (255130) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:22AM (#30503446)
    Really? Does this belong on /.? Where is all the fanfare for Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth & Saturn? Companies come and go. New ones will come along and replace them.

    I've got an idea... how about everybody who liked Saabs go out and order a Fisker Karma [fiskerautomotive.com] or the Tesla Model S [teslamotors.com]!

    Bill
    • and Saturn suck? (Saturn to a lesser degree at first, but eventually it was of course ruined by Detroit.)

    • Yeah, because those piece of shit cars, that can’t get further than five miles without needing half a year of reload time, and weigh a megaton because of the batteries, are useful in heavy snow and with nearly no sunlight.... you know... what Saab cars were made for, according to TFA! ;)

    • by bobdotorg (598873)

      Really? Does this belong on /.? Where is all the fanfare for Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth & Saturn? Companies come and go. New ones will come along and replace them.

      I've got an idea... how about everybody who liked Saabs go out and order a Fisker Karma or the Tesla Model S!

      Bill

      This is news for nerds for a few reasons:
      SAABs are in some ways the Slashdot user of the car world: geeky, high tech, innovative, uncommon...

      Though I'm not sure which car you would be, suggesting that SAAB l

  • by someme2 (670523) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:27AM (#30503464)
    It's GPL! If you like it that much, just fork it and the community will... wait, oh, I see. Sorry, never mind.
  • New bid.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:33AM (#30503486)

    It was GM themselves that turned down the offer from Spyker - seemingly a company that is in financial difficulty doesnt need the money. The timing of the decision speaks volumes as well.

    the latest news is that there is another bid as of today from Spyker, so the nail isnt quite in the coffin just yet.

    http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article6321526.ab

    GM has woefully mismanaged SAAB, played accounting games and not used the company in the way it should.

    SAAB has come up with fantastic technology over the years especially around safety, I think the engineers there have alot to offer in the future for environmental cars.

    • Let me guess Liquidate your company, liquidate your company GM - Here's one -- nine pence. Saab - DEAD PERSON: I'm not bankrupt! Bankrupcy court - What? GM - Nothing -- here's your nine pence. Saab - I'm not Bankrupt! BC - Here -- he says he's not bankrupt! GM - Yes, he is. Saab - I'm not! (And so on, I hear Saab feels fine)
      • Let me guess

        Liquidate your company, liquidate your company

        GM - Here's one -- nine pence.

        Saab - I'm not bankrupt!

        Bankrupcy court - What?

        GM - Nothing -- here's your nine pence.

        Saab - I'm not Bankrupt!

        BC - Here -- he says he's not bankrupt!

        GM - Yes, he is.

        Saab - I'm not! (And so on, I hear Saab feels fine)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:34AM (#30503494)

    I've never driven a Saab and have no opinion on how they fared in this way.

    But what is it with Americans preferring numb cars that totally insulate them from what the car is doing? They all seem to like very mushy suspensions where the car tips around corners, and automatic transmissions. Then, because they drive very tippy cars with very high centre of gravity, they're deathly afraid of corners, and they nearly stop every time there's the slightest bend in the road.

    It seems the automotive equivalent of removing all the taste from one's food. Sure, it'll still keep you alive, but you go through your life eating bland and boring food.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by onionman (975962)

      Have you examined the typical American diet? It's very bland; flavored only with fat, sugar, and salt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bhtooefr (649901)

      Quite a lot of roads in the US are poor quality, and straight.

      So, you don't care about handling, and you want something that soaks up the bumps.

    • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday December 20, 2009 @02:24PM (#30505432) Homepage

      But what is it with Americans preferring numb cars that totally insulate them from what the car is doing? They all seem to like very mushy suspensions where the car tips around corners, and automatic transmissions.

      The simple answer is, Americans drive. A lot more, than anyone else in the world. Whereas most Europeans can comfortably live without a car at all — relying on government-run public transportation (and when those are on strike — stay home) — most Americans need a car to get anywhere. So, in Europe a much higher share of drivers are enthusiasts — people, who like to drive. In the US everybody is a driver, even if they'd rather not be — and so there is a much bigger bias towards comfort over excitement.

      Even for enthusiasts, if you spend 90 minutes in your car every day (45 minutes each way to work and home), for example, you'll value certain features, that you wouldn't care for, if you drove for 90 minutes a week.

      • by Warhawke (1312723) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @04:25PM (#30506314)
        I consider myself a driving enthusiast, but I remember driving my old BMW 3-series from practically one end of the United States to the other. The features I came to love as an enthusiast - bucket seats, sports suspension and handling, black leather interior, tight manual transmission - didn't mean SQUAT when driving for sixteen hours across the vast nothingness of the Midwest. By the time I hit Topeka, KS, I was fantasizing through the numbing pain in my legs and ass and sweat dripping down my face from the 110 degree Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) weatherabout a big evil American suburban with cushy seats, mind-numbing DVD systems for the passengers, and an air conditioning unit not designed for the crisp mountain climate of the Fatherland.

        That said, I still love my car, and I find it truly blissful to drive in any other occasion, but Americans really do have different driving habits and driving needs. For example, being an even six feet tall with size 12 feet (which is barely above average for American males), I am physically unable to cram legs into the well of the driver's seat of an Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio. Cars of European sizes I am literally incapable of driving.

  • by Bin_jammin (684517) <Binjammin@gmail.com> on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:38AM (#30503524)
    From the linked article, Saab had a highlight of sales at 48,000 and change in 1986, when they were a post-recession yuppie fad. They were always bad cars, and articles like this one reminiscing about the "glory days" of Saab are a bit myopic. They rusted out in key places, like where the control arms for the front suspension bolts to the body. They're a nightmare to work on, with the engine spun backwards in the engine bay. The "tight steering" meant nothing when coupled with a body that flexed terribly, especially on the convertible models. Big buttons for people wearing gloves? That's the best contribution the author can come up with in his requiem? The fact is that people don't want to spend huge money on mediocre cars. Saab was purchased to be placed in GM's lineup as a luxury foreign brand, much like Volvo's purchase by Ford. The new cars were built on better platforms than the ones Saab could engineer, with all the quirkiness still intact for buyers with too much money and not enough common sense. That GM can't give the company away, and can't make money selling weird cars is proof of this. The year GM purchased Saab they killed off Oldsmobile. Saab was selling ~40,000 cars per year, Olds was selling 250,000 cars per year. They killed a brand that made them far more money in order to have a more upscale image, only to find out what people really imagined the cars to be. They made a Saab out of a Blazer, they made a Saab out of a Subaru, and I'm sure if some marketing doofus thought it was a good idea they would have done the same with a Daewoo as well. Saab had some interesting ideas over the years, but they were cars that were constantly broken and difficult to work on. I've spent many years as an auto tech and diagnostician fixing these things. I'll always have many fond memories of working on Saabs. They've brought me so much laughter over the years.
    • Strongly concur, I refuse to work on these POS. The owners also tend to be pieces of work. Kudos to GM for doing us all a favor by buying the brand and putting it down. No offense to the workers in Trollheim. Peace?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maestroX (1061960)

      That GM can't give the company away, and can't make money selling weird cars is proof of this. The year GM purchased Saab they killed off Oldsmobile. Saab was selling ~40,000 cars per year, Olds was selling 250,000 cars per year.

      GM had a majority in Saab in 1990 (51%) and bought it completely in 2000. Olds was killed in 2004. GM offers unisex cars that no one wants, both brands do not fit the bill.

    • by Vegeta99 (219501) <rjlynn&gmail,com> on Sunday December 20, 2009 @01:00PM (#30504780)

      Big buttons for people wearing gloves? That's the best contribution the author can come up with in his requiem?

      How about the ignition being in the center console so there's one less thing to split your kneecap in a crash? How about the collapsing steering column, once again helping to avoid turning the steering wheel into a death machine? How 'bout the fact that my '88 had a fully-modern EFI system with intake manifold injectors, 2 HO2S, and a MAF sensor, not that crap throttle-body, barometric pressure based crap everyone else had? How about having 9007 lights with reflector housings instead of those sealed-beam light scatterers?

      I live in Central PA, and that car was unstoppable in the snow. The only thing I've driven that was close is my Jetta, and that has 4-wheel ABS and traction control. The SAAB certainly did not. And I'm no slipmatic driver either.

  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:41AM (#30503534) Homepage

    SAAB was once quirky and bizarre, the choice of folks who needed some particular features. Then people started buying it, not for the suitability for cold weather or whatever, but precisely because it was quirky. Then the customers even stopped caring about the quirkiness and started buying them for the nameplate. Sure, there were a few folks who needed some strange features, but for the most part, people only cared about the name. GM, though not having the brightest business acumen, sought to capitalize. Instead of quirkiness they sold the brand on its name. Alas, in circles of people who cared about these things, GM and exclusivity are mutually - ahh - exclusive. The cars stopped selling.

    There's a right way and a wrong way to capitalize on quirkiness, I think. Apple used to sell their products as the choice of the minority. Their "Think Different" campaign was not so much about suitability but about the mere fact of being different than the masses. That campaign might not have worked a few years later when nationalism and homogenized thinking was seen as patriotic, but it was perfect for the times.

    So here was GM peddling SAAB as the choice of the oddball right during the time when it was gauche to be different. Then when that failed they started talking about SAAB's roots in a foreign military when US patriotism was near a peak. I suppose if they had survived, GM would have marketed it as the choice of banking executives. "Look! SAAB is the number one choice among failed banking executives!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Johnno74 (252399)

      And what is it with Doctors and Saabs? In Australia and New Zealand at least, probably 3/4ths of the Saab drivers you'll meet are Doctors! How does that work?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:41AM (#30503542)

    by GM they made beautiful and wonderful cars. After GM got their dirty gready little mints on the maker Saab cars started looking more like most american cars: UGLY!

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @09:59AM (#30503648)
    Can Gripens be had cheap?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bjomape (1534745)
      Saab Automobile and the rest of Saab (the parts that make military aircraft, radar systems, sattellite equipment, etc) split into two separate companies with a common trademark a long time ago. GM was only involved with Saab Automobile. That means no bargains on Gripens this time. On the other hand, if you decide to buy one, the support will continue.
  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @10:04AM (#30503672)

    Back before they developed the yuppie image and the high prices, they were just a nice solid car that was unstoppable in bad weather. Certainly they were more expensive than the typical car, but not so much so that they were unaffordable.

    But GM really destroyed them by pushing them into a market that they were designed for.

    We New Englanders still need a nice winter car, and Saab is not there for that purpose any more because they are just too darned expensive now. I only have one because I bought it used, there's no way I'm going to pay $40K for a car.

    Saab was a modest company making a modest profit on a modest sales. GM came along and doubled their production and raised the prices. In the process they made the company much more fragile because now they had to maintain sales levels to pay down the expenses of expanding.

    Really the story is not all that different from the typical failed high-tech company: crash and burn while attempting to grow out of the initial successful market. The projected sales increases don't happen. This failure pattern happens over and over again so many times, you'd think managers would learn.

    A lesson to be learned and yet another reason for Europeans to be annoyed at Americans.

    • by laing (303349)
      Yes indeed. GM's cars cost much more than they should. If you consider the inferior quality, they should cost LESS than the competition instead of more. GM should by all rights have gone into bankruptcy. Their union contracts have strangled their ability to compete in a fair market. Instead of BK, they are now largely owned by the US Government! When there are no consequences to failure, poor management will continue. Expect more bad things from GM in the future.
      • by TarPitt (217247) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @10:52AM (#30503882)

        Their union contracts have strangled their ability to compete in a fair market.

        You mean the same United Auto Workers union that the very successful Ford has worked with for decades? Amazing how that union has brought down GM, but somehow the same union represents workers at the successful Ford.

        Scott Adams made fun of the tendency of management to blame the least powerful individuals for management failing. [wikipedia.org]. The UAW is a convenient scapegoat for right-wing talking heads, but the decision to manufacture poorly-made cars that do not meet a market need is purely management's.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20, 2009 @11:21AM (#30504032)

          Their union contracts have strangled their ability to compete in a fair market.

          You mean the same United Auto Workers union that the very successful Ford has worked with for decades? Amazing how that union has brought down GM, but somehow the same union represents workers at the successful Ford.

          Scott Adams made fun of the tendency of management to blame the least powerful individuals for management failing. [wikipedia.org]. The UAW is a convenient scapegoat for right-wing talking heads, but the decision to manufacture poorly-made cars that do not meet a market need is purely management's.

          It's not the current union contracts. It's the retirees.

          Ford has pretty much maintained their smaller-to-being-with market share. So because of market growth worldwide, Ford is selling more cars than they used to.

          Unlike GM. GM is a shodow of its former self. They're selling a lot fewer cars than they used to. The company is a lot smaller, with much smaller cash flow. But GM has huge numbers of retirees from its heyday, along with probably a huge number of early-retirees from the days GM was shrinking and laying off workers.

          And all those retirees are on defined-benefit retirement plans.

          So, GM is fucked.

          Their loss of market share made their union retirement plans the millstone around their neck that sunk them. Just because that didn't happen to Ford doesn't make it false.

          God, what horrendously weak "logic" you used there.

          • by jmauro (32523) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @03:42PM (#30506010)

            But ask your self how did these long-term retiree contracts even exist if management hadn't thought it was a good idea to offer them in lue of a 50 or a dollar an hour raise back in the 1950s? How did the become under-funded over years of management not funding them?

            Did these contracts appear out of thin air? Nope each side went into the agreement with something they can accept and signed on the dotted line and expected the other side to hold up their end.

            These were all management decisions that were made by GM's board and the decisions they made catasrophicly bad. They based them on assumptions that became appearent in the late 60's were not holding up, but GM kept making them over and over again. Based on their size it let them asorb the hits until the 80's, but by then it was way, way too late to make the changes.

            Blaming the guy on the factory floor trying to keep a middle class life for things he cannot control is sad.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hedwards (940851)
            You're going to have to cite sources on that. The UAW workers get a lot of crap from conservative hatchet men that are basically opposed to any sort of union because workers shouldn't have any rights. GM was brought down by it's own incompetence. Saturn is a good example, people loved Saturn's quirky way of doing business and the cars themselves weren't exactly crap either, they were affordable and people loved them. 4 or 5 years of no refreshes or any signs of meaningful development work and it had to be s
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, it doesn't stop at "bad management". Basically they let Opel stab SAAB in the back by letting them use the company as a dumping ground for old unwanted parts (for instance stuff from the Ascona) that could be sold for outrageous prices via intercorporate transfers, in general overcharge the company like for instance the same engine in a SAAB would cost the car manufacturer 3-5 times more than if it was going to an Opel, they let SAAB pay wages and benefits for quite a few people who were working *excl

    • by Dr_Ken (1163339)
      Yes indeed. The same sort of thing happened to Volvo and VW too. They were mid-level basic transportation for the average person in Europe. Nothing fancy. Then American yuppies found out about them and they became another commodity of SWPL [stuffwhitepeoplelike.com] and that was the end of them as comfortable, sturdy and economical automobiles for middle income earners. Their prices ballooned and they became just another toy for the yuppsters and their ilk.
  • by spywhere (824072) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @10:12AM (#30503712)
    My mother's father was the second Saab dealer in North America.
    My father and I worked on every Saab in the southern half of our state from the '60s until 1980. My dad was known for converting '65-up models from the 3-cylinder engines to the later V4's, and he also did special effects for the one Bond film in which 007 drove a Saab. Saab offered to build a dealership for my father, but he was ready to retire... so they sold the franchise to a real loser, and stopped selling us parts.

    The Saab 96 was so far ahead of its time that nobody has yet caught up to it. It was the stiffest, strongest & safest 2000-lb. car ever built.
  • I'm currently on my third Saab. A couple decades ago, I scattered my old Chevy Citation along a guardrail during a snowstorm (one of the few guardrails in these Colorado mountains). I decided to get a safe winter vehicle, and found a used '83 Saab. Quirky, yes; cold, yes; but great control with a crash-cage disguised as a passenger compartment. Turbo is great for getting around trucks in the mountains.

    My current Saab 93 is much more comfortable to drive, though their great handling means feeling every b

    • by bdsesq (515351)

      GM killed Saab some years ago.
      I enjoyed the Saabs I have owned. I bought them new and put 200k miles on both of them. Three years ago I needed a new car and found out they were not making real Saabs any more. The new Saabs were turned into just another GM piece of crap.
      I bought an Acura. It is not as good as Saab used to be but it is a lot better than Saab is now.

  • There might possibly be some kind of good business reason to shut down Saab rather than sell it. But it seems to me that there are several startup electric car companies that need a brand to sell cars to "normal people" who just want a more efficient vehicle that's "just a car". Companies that also need factories and workers to build lots of cars when they scale up. Saab has both. It seems that the next generation of car tech is taking just slightly too long to recycle what the dying old generation needs to

  • by TarPitt (217247) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @10:43AM (#30503836)

    They take brands past their prime and run them into the ground

    (damn, a computer analogy for a car story. A first for Slashdot?)

  • Quirky? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Waccoon (1186667) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @10:48AM (#30503868)

    Remember the 9-2X? It was a re-badged Subaru Impreza. Even by SAAB standards it was a flop. You can't keep a niche brand going with re-brands!

    Saturn went out pretty much the same way, and that's why I traded my Saturn SL2 for a Subaru Impreza, rather than a Saturn ION. The Subaru has lots of unique things about it. Saturns became typical, boring, unreliable American cars.

    Way to kill all the interesting brands, but keep Buick on life support.

  • Any more news on the new offer Spyker just made for the Saab assets? Not guaranteed to be dead yet.

  • by Anonymous Poodle (15365) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @11:13AM (#30503990)

    Is a decent car analogy.

  • My Saab Story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anorlunda (311253) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @11:16AM (#30504006) Homepage

    This is probably my last chance to tell my Saab story in public.

    In 1973 I was living in Sweden. Just before returning to the USA I bought a new Saab Combi Coupe. That is the hatchback model that later became the famous Saab 900. 73 was the first model year and they were not marketing them to the USA yet. I had mine shipped to the USA when it was only 2 weeks old. My oh my. Remember the adage about not buying version 1.0 of anything? I should have remembered that.

    On the very first day of driving the manual shift lever jumped out of 2nd gear, hit me in the wrist and cracked a bone.

    Back in the USA, my clutch failed. I took it to the Saab dealer for a free warranty replacement. The new one failed; and the next and the next... That car went through 7 clutches in one year. Once, the new clutch failed only 6 miles from the dealer. It wasn't me. I have long experience with manual transmissions and I don't ride the clutch.

    About a year and a day from new (with a 12 month warranty) I drove through a puddle. The car stopped instantly. The engine refused to turn. Upon taking the engine apart, we found water in the pistons and all the connecting rods bent like pretzels. It turns out that the air intake was low to the ground with a 90 degree elbow. Mine was mounted with the elbow facing forward, like a water scoop if one ever hit a puddle. There was a factory bulletin to rotate that elbow 180 degrees, but my dealer just shrugged. After 7 visits to the dealer he didn't feel responsible for doing the work or for informing me about the bulletins.

    Still more. Upon further inspection we found that there were no retaining rings on the piston king pins. The pins had been wearing grooves in the side of the engine block. If I hadn't driven into the puddle, the block would have exploded soon; probably while I was speeding down the interstate.

    The Saab regional office refused to talk to me or even listen to my story. I sold that Saab, 13 months old for 10% of my purchase price leaving me with nothing to do but Saab saab saab.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      What a horrible story. A few years ago I thought about buying a Saab someday, but then I looked up the reliability on Consumer Reports (generally poor). That and the price tag killed any thoughts about Saab.

      I think the lesson learned from your story (apart from not buying a 1.0 version of anything) is to not import a car into a country where it's not normally sold. I'd bet a lot of your negative dealer experiences can be explained by just this one simple fact. The mechanics don't know anything about i

  • by p51d007 (656414) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @12:47PM (#30504680)
    GM owns it (which was dumb in the first place), so let the Swiss buy it back from GM.
  • by dr2chase (653338) on Sunday December 20, 2009 @04:49PM (#30506482) Homepage

    2 stroke, 3 cylinders, 3 barrel carburetor. 4 speed on the column. Dual diagonal braking, unibody construction, aircraft seat/shoulder belts. The 2-strokes were sadly, badly, filthy.

    Parts on the car were half-metric, half-English. Many of the electronics were by Lucas, Prince of Darkness.

    Over time, rebuilt two transmissions, several clutches, several sets of brakes, replaced some body panels. Eventually worked on the engine some, also once swapped front brakes, drum for disk.

    My brother totalled two of them, one with the able assistance of a speeding drunk from the rear, the other as a solo effort, rolling the car and denting every body panel. Both times, nobody was hurt.

    Bought two Saab 95s (station wagons, one V-4, the other 3-cylinder), one for $100, the other for $50, combined them to make one car, drove it from one side of the country to the other.

    The old Saabs were damn fun cars, even though they had itty-bitty engines (820-850cc) producing barely 50hp. In terms of "bang for the buck", they were a total win. The only car I've ever had all 4 wheels off the ground, was a Saab.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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