The roots of the Saab brand and the plant lie in the construction of aircraft. The most inspired cockpits can be found in the Saab 9000 or - as a final legacy - in the Saab 9-5 NG. That spoils you for other vehicles that are just cars and not earthbound planes. Despite all the aeronautics, there was hardly a vehicle from Trollhättan in the air. Except for this one.
This time it will be a longer story that takes place in three countries and on two continents and takes us back to a time when cars were really still being built in Trollhättan.
Trollhättan, Southern Sweden, August 2010.
After the factory holidays, the 2011 model year production starts in the Stallbacka. For the first time, the Saab 9-5 NG sedan comes off the production line with a body from the company's own press shop. Among them is a Saab 9-5 Bio Power US sedan in Vector equipment for the first few days, which has never been seen before.
It differs in a few details from what is common for customers in North America. Saab doesn't really spoil them with equipment and innovation if they don't buy a 6-cylinder in Aero Trim. But now Sweden is preparing to change that. Instead of the regular monochrome display in the speedometer, the sedan has a color display, 6-speed manual gearbox instead of automatic, and the new Hella SmartBeam bi-xenon headlights on board.
In the following months, Saab test engineers are moving the large sedan through Sweden, but not too extensively, because in the end only 13.000 kilometers will be on the clock.
Saab's situation is not easy these days. The small manufacturer is only independent on paper. Everything you do in Sweden in terms of Saab 9-5 requires GM's approval. Americans are very restrictive, and with good reason. The Saab 9-5 is technologically ahead of the products from the rest of the group. Buick and Insignia will only be brought to a comparable level years later with the major facelift. The 9-5 as a technology carrier ... Saab had fought for this place in the hierarchy for years. In the end, when it was almost over, you had the position. But at what price! In Detroit they are watching over the 9-5 and want to prevent technology transfer to China at all costs. The license agreements for the sedan and the upcoming sports suit are toggle agreements.
Any new Saab 9-5 variant requires GM approval and must be compliant with the licenses granted. On the 1. April 2011, the tapes in Stallbacka are now silent and Victor Muller diagnosed a morning cold, it is for our Saab on the journey across the North Atlantic. The 9-5 sedan leaves the stallbacka, is after Landvetter brought. In a Lufthansa Cargo truck, not in the plane, she says goodbye to Sweden. It goes to Frankfurt am Main, from where the Saab takes off on April 8 with a McDonell Douglas MD-11 in the direction of Chicago.
Michigan USA, April 2011.
From Illinois, travel to the Milford Proving Ground, Michigan, where GM engineers will review the 9-5. Milford is an imposing test site, which is directly connected to Yuma Proving Grounds connects. Yuma is the largest military compound in the world and a huge no-fly zone for civil aviation; one of the reasons GM rented this site from the military. The Saab is examined on the test site. The color display in the speedometer is noted as a particular interest. In the accompanying documents it is stated that it is only about an inspection. What happened after Milford Proving Ground is unclear, the documents have been lost.
One could assume that the story would end somewhere in North America. Maybe in a dealer showroom, or in the worse case, at the car scrapper. But the unexpected happens, the Saab 9-5 Vector sedan is coming back to Sweden. The timing is uncertain, as well as by whom. Did Saab Automobile AB bring the sedan back or was it the insolvency administrators who collected vehicles worldwide? What happened from summer 2011 until it reappeared three years later cannot be found out. Then the Saab suddenly appears on the scene ...
Kiel, Germany. Early summer 2014.
An extraordinary Saab 9-5 Vector Bio Power sedan is for sale in Sweden. A few kilometers and - more than strange for a US version - with manual transmission.
In Germany we are always looking for Saab 9-5 NG sedans, the market is less than desired. As soon as the big Saab is up for sale in a portal, my phone rings. Markus Lafrentz discovered the Saab and told me about the unusual features. The VIN identifies the sedan as a normal production car, not a pre-series, so there are no concerns. He buys the 9-5 and organizes the transport to Germany.
At the same time, Saab fans in southern Hesse are looking for a Saab 9-5 NG sedan. You drive several vehicles to test, but are never entirely happy with the choice of color or equipment. A few days later they visit me and find out about the vehicle that Markus is bringing in. The color, equipment and engine are right, the Saab is ordered unseen. A good decision ! But nobody has any idea what it is about and what will be entrusted to the ferry to Germany in Gothenburg over the next few days ...
Only when the Sweden ferry docks in Kiel, the 9-5 rolls overboard, it slowly becomes clear to everyone involved that a unique piece with Saab history has landed here. Stickers from Milford Proving Ground on the windows give the first foretaste, Markus Lafrentz finds the other documents in the glove compartment. Is there a Saab in front of us that belongs in a collection, or should the Swede really be released into traffic? It is too late to discuss it. The car has already been sold and will be converted. Speedometer and navigation are converted to German versions, instead of the Vector front, an aero optic can be installed at the customer's request. All components could be retrofitted if it were desired later. That as a sedative pill for the keepers of Saab history.
After Kiel has done the conversions, the Saab gets its German approval. He is now in southern Hesse and in very good, very Saab-crazy hands. I couldn't think of better owners. And because it is a unique piece with a certain value, we do not publish pictures with license plates. All good? As always with Saab, happiness and drama are closely intertwined. As with every great Nordland saga, there is also a sad story behind it.
Somewhere in Västragötland, Sweden. Autumn 2014.
Our Saab 9-5 NG, the transatlantic, is unlikely to have flown 2011 alone across the North Atlantic. There is a twin, not identical, however! Color, features and engine are identical. Instead of 6-gear manual transmission he has automatic, additionally the adaptive distance radar. He too came back to Sweden. The home brought him no luck. He did not land in a hall but on a Swedish junkyard. Only 17.000 kilometers on the clock, fantastic equipment. Meanwhile, the front window is missing, the open wound leaves rain and leaves in the interior. In Sweden, values of a major automotive past are still being destroyed. It's crying, but it's too late for this Saab. Autumn and winter will be the end of it all.
Why did the transatlantic survive and the twin not? Perhaps it was the manual gearshift that made a superficial pre-selection so that the 9-5 was put aside as a supposed European model, while the US version with automatic had to believe in it. It is more likely that the adaptive cruise control was his undoing. An option for the 2012 model year that should never be put on the market.
Is it allowed to move a Saab one-off, with this history in the background, in everyday life? Or should it disappear into a collection? I think it should be driven because that's what it was built for. Cars have to be moved. What do the readers think about it?
Is it allowed to drive a Saab single piece in everyday life?
- Yes, in any case! (87% 362 Votes)
- No, Saab history must be conserved! (13% 56 Votes)
Total Voters: 418