30 years later - SAAB Spirit reloaded.

Reader's contribution by Dominik Merkle

In the middle of the 80 years I was here for the first time, the 96 I had bought almost a year before. Sufficient time to get out of someone who liked the car to become a Saab fanatic, not only in the eyes of my fellow human beings. I went to Trollhättan to visit the factory and get to know Saabstadt.

Swedish Economy Minister and NEVS-Saab 9-3
Swedish Economy Minister and NEVS-Saab 9-3

In summer, preparations were made for the new model year, so that visits to the factory were not possible, the friendly lady at the front desk said. But she picked up the phone and shortly thereafter appeared a friendlier mid-fifties first wanted to see my car, then talked longer with me and put me at the end of a bag full merchandise article in the back seat. Then he explained the way to a gas station nearby, where I would be expected.

Later, I learned that he was the head of production. Somewhat puzzled, I searched for and found the said gas station where someone was actually waiting for the boy from Germany. This was housed in a kind of underground garage, which was to become the Saabmuseum a few years later. I was allowed to see everything, was allowed in the cars, got old brochures and handbooks and my enthusiasm for the brand and the familiar way with their drivers grew almost to infinity. Over the years, I got to know many people who had similar experiences and were certainly even more enthusiastic than myself.

[sam id = ”10 ″ codes =” true ”]

But at the end of the nineties it changed more and more, and I realized that Trollhättan had become one of many works of a big corporation and the people at Saab could not do what they wanted or maybe they did not want anymore and it seemed not even bothering them. Cadillacs were now on the bands at the factory and the views were bleak.

Pure Joy = Saab is back!
Pure - Joy = Saab is back!

30 years after my first drive I'm back at the factory gate, much has not changed, except that the parking lot is almost empty. Nobody knows exactly what happens in the factory, at least until this day. I have an invitation to start production in my pocket, greeted by a handshake at the entrance and kindly guided past a red 16S displayed in the foyer to a boardroom. The mood there is very relaxed and calm, although there is a certain tension in the air.

And suddenly it's back: the hard-to-express something that many call the Saab spirit, a blend of innovation, thoughtful solutions, wit and modesty, and the courage to take unconventional paths. This time, however, with an unmistakable focus on economic feasibility. The Chinese-born owner has, I believe, inhaled and understood this spirit. He is the only one who keeps his address in Swedish, he promises no miracles but thoughtful steps. From the gasoline-powered 9-3 is about to roll off the line, about station wagon and convertible to the electric car, in a manageable period. Also, the Phoenix platform should be used, and you want to build only cars for which there are orders.

At the start of production: group photo with management and celebrities
At the start of production: group photo with management and celebrities

The curtain opens and reveals the final assembly of the plant. While the Swedish Minister of Economic Affairs gives her speech, the black 9-3 slowly rolls on the tape. A blue and yellow band is cut and the resumption of car production in Trollhättan is fact. The production manager drives the car off the line in a rather unspectacular manner and places it in front of the journalists with lightly turned-down front wheels. Unspectacular. Without champagne corks, without fireworks. Slightly shy managers give interviews, cool and factual, there are no PR professionals there to stage the event.

[sam id = ”8 ″ codes =” true ”]

Slightly in the background are the workers who built the car, but they are part of the whole thing and they are proud of their new old product. Especially as many of them start to make pictures of the car with more or less important prominence. The whole event is a long way from what GM hosted, and it has none of the grandiose visions of GM's successor. It's almost like Trollhättan in the 80 years, only the car looks different.

Will it be the same again? No, certainly not, the market would not allow. Nor do I think that our brand in Europe will ever regain the status it once had. But my impressions are very similar to those of my three fellow travelers. Of course, on the return trip to Germany we had only one topic: apart from the enthusiasm that we were allowed to be there, we were of the opinion that something is moving in a very positive direction. NEVS knows what they are doing and it is realistic.

Text: Dominik Merkle

Pictures: saabblog.net

6 thoughts on "30 years later - SAAB Spirit reloaded."

  • @ Uli:
    You have put that into words! We were already allowed to enjoy the expert press at the beginning of December.

    Since you can counteract only in the private sector with facts. Over the last few years, I have brought a few colleagues to our brand by simply taking them on business trips in my old but jammed 9000 or even the 900 Convertible. In the meantime, the SAAB group can not be overlooked in our parking lot. We are sometimes laughed at, but somehow the others also have respect.

  • I fully agree with Dominik's article. At that time I was very similar to the experiences in the year 1984, when I was allowed to visit the preliminary stage of today's museum in the cellar. At that time we were greeted by Albert Trommer, the then head of the museum, who unfortunately died too early two years later.
    He did not miss the chance to get a prototype of the 9000, three months before the official presentation!

    But the Saab bacillus started much earlier: 1969 the first advertisement about the Saab 99 in a car newspaper, 1970 the first contact in F-Niedereschbach near Saab Germany, where I was given dozens of brochures (“for all uncles and aunts”) and so that a Saab prospectus collecting passion was sparked in me. There was no arrogance to feel towards a 14-year-old at the time, just simplicity and kindness.

    Unforgettable also the first detailed test 1971 in the ams on the 99 E, where even the immediately before took place dance lesson was uninteresting, since then the ams at the station kiosk waiting for me.
    Then in 1973 the comparison test in the auto newspaper, in which the 99 E finished second just behind the BMW 5 Series - and this in a German newspaper. Far behind are Mercedes 200, Volvo 144, Citroen DS and Lancia Beta.

    Somehow, parallels to then can be seen today, even if the times are no longer comparable. Soon the dear German, but also French car newspapers will hack around on the Oldie 9-3 without appreciating that it still has a solid camshaft chain drive and a sensible, manual handbrake - and not this constantly changing toothed belt or cheap Incorrect chain construction of the oh so beloved VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat families, from the beginning, electric
    not to mention acting handbrake.

    So the future “tests”, in which the 9-3 will be judged negatively by these “experts”, take note of with a smile, or do not read at all ...

  • Great contribution from the fan base! Good to read, good to know - SAAB is coming back 🙂

  • Dear Dominik!
    WOW!! You have put this worthy event into words for us SAAB fans and “rescuers”. I would have loved to have been there myself - live and in color - but your wonderful lines - let me feel the atmosphere, the enthusiasm and emotions released there - THANK YOU !!
    I hope to see you soon with a more detailed report !!

  • Small steps in a positive direction ... what more do we want after x months of stagnation! Let's be kind to the NEVS owner!
    An enjoyable last week before Christmas in 2013!

  • Really nice to read in the morning of a new week ... I especially liked the ending, realistic and still without frustration.
    Although I think that Saab Sweden can not survive if the brand is not more important than in the past. One certainly will not produce permanently in Sweden with high zooms for the Chinese market.
    But now I get so factual and the article was so beautifully emotional, for me it was a Saab 99 Turbo in a green white, which I exchanged for a high-quality stereo system when I was 19. I still remember how excited I was by the easy-footed revving and the unusually folding hood ... it was always individually-minded about me and many more Saab will follow ...

Comments are closed.