Can you tell the complete story of the Saab car division on 272 pages? It's a challenge, but you can do it. Or rather: Lance Cole can do it. His latest Saab book, this is his second publication on Saab, tells the story of automobile production from its beginnings to current events in the summer of 2012.
To make one thing clear, the latest Saab book is not one of the high-gloss image books that the auto industry produces to inspire their products. This can be a disadvantage, but it doesn't have to be. Because with some order writers you notice the lack of identification with the topic. Not so with Lance Cole, who lives Saab every day. “Saab Cars - The Complete Story” is the book by an author with a very large, detailed knowledge of the cult brand from Trollhättan. It starts strongly, with the origins of car production, towards the first turbos. Special models for a wide variety of markets are listed, and Lance Cole keeps giving the people behind Saab a name.
Who worked on which project and when, who was responsible for which design? Or what were the names of the first employees in production. A nice idea, because it gives many former employees a place for eternity.
The Saab 9000 project, the collaboration with the Fiat Group, is well described, and the author also gives the unloved Saab 900 II a fair place in Saab history. Problems that Saab had at the beginning with the 900 II also existed with other manufacturers at the time. Mercedes and the C-Class are an example, only nobody talks about it anymore today, while the Saab community apparently never wants to forgive the 900 II.
“Saab Cars - The Complete Story” is probably the only book in the world that reports in detail about Saab 9-3 I, Saab 9-3 II and Saab 9-5. This fact alone makes it worth buying and reading for the true fan. The Saab story is enriched with hundreds of color photos, most of which come from the author himself. There are company photos from the early days of Saab, some of which have not yet been published, but the proportion is decreasing the further we go in the direction of the present.
Let's talk about the weaknesses. The Saab 9-5 II sports car and the Saab 9-4x are neglected. The author lacks visual material and facts. A call to Nyköping could have helped, but it was not done. That's a pity, a missed opportunity. Because even the last fight of the Muller era, the emergence of various investors, everything is described, and from a book about cars is thus a witness of the times.
The Saab Community and its commitment to the cult brand also finds its place in the book. Lance Cole manages to capture the legendary Saab Spirit. A book that you do not just read and then put aside. It's one of those publications that you always pick up because it's fun to browse through.
Is it the legacy of a big brand? The 300 pages are not enough for that. Because the Saab story is much more multifaceted, exciting, dramatic than that this page number would suffice. The many small background stories that come from insiders and that should also be told are also missing. In addition, the Saab story is not over yet. The writer feels that too and you can see it on the last pages of Lance Cole. In principle, “The Complete Story” has an open ending. The Stallbacka plant has been sold, and it is continuing in a direction that nobody can predict in summer.
To buy? There are not many Saab books, there is no selection. No question, “The Complete Story” is the book for the fan, and it fits well under the Nordic Christmas tree. The new Saab book, only in English, because there will not be a German version, is available in specialist bookstores and in the Saab Fan Shop.