The roots of the Saab brand and the factory are in the construction of aircraft. The most inspired cockpits can be found in the Saab 9000 or - as a last legacy - in the Saab 9-5 NG. This spoils one for other vehicles that are just cars and not earthbound aircraft. Despite all the aeronautics hardly any vehicles from Trollhättan were in the air. Except for this one.
It will be a longer story this time, playing in three countries and on two continents, taking us back to a time when cars were still being built in Trollhättan.
Trollhättan, Southern Sweden, August 2010.
After the plant holidays starts in the Stallbacka the production of the model year 2011. For the first time, the Saab 9-5 NG sedan with a body from its own press shop runs off the line. Among them is in the first few days a Saab 9-5 Bio Power US sedan in Vector equipment, which has not existed so far.
It differs in some details from what is customary for North American customers. These are not really spoiled by Saab with features and innovation, if they do not buy an 6 cylinder in Aero Trim. But now they are in Sweden to change that. Instead of the regular monochrome display in the speedometer, the sedan has a color display, 6 manual gear shift 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.
The situation of Saab is not easy these days. The small manufacturer is independent only on the paper. Everything Sweden does for Saab 9-5 requires approval from GM. The Americans are very restrictive, and with reason. The Saab 9-5 is technologically ahead of the rest of the group. Buick and Insignia are only brought to a comparable level years later with the big facelift. The 9-5 as a technology carrier ... For years, Saab had fought for this place in the Hirachie. At the end, where everything was almost over, you had the position. But at what price! Detroit is watching over the 9-5 and wants to prevent technology transfer to China at any cost. The license agreements for the sedan and the upcoming sports combination are toggle contracts.
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 on a plane, she says goodbye to Sweden. It goes to Frankfurt am Main, from where the Saab at 8. April with a McDonell Douglas MD-11 heading for 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 adjoined. Yuma is the largest military base 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 inspected at the test site. As a special interest especially the color display is noted in the clock. The accompanying documents state that it is only a matter of 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 dealership showroom, or in the worse case at the car recycler. But the unexpected happens, the Saab 9-5 Vector sedan comes back to Sweden. The timing is uncertain, as well as by whom. Did Saab Automobile AB get the limousine back or was it the insolvency administrators who collected vehicles worldwide? What happens from summer 2011 until the re-emergence three years later, can not be learned. Then the Saab suddenly appears on the scene ...
Kiel, Germany. Early summer 2014.
Sweden has an exceptional Saab 9-5 Vector Bio Power Sedan for sale. A few kilometers and - for a US version more than strange - with manual transmission.
In Germany, we are always looking for Saab 9-5 NG sedans, the market is less than her. No sooner is the big Saab in a portal for sale, even my phone rings. Markus Lafrentz has discovered the Saab, tells me about the unusual equipment. The VIN identifies the sedan as a standard 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 are looking for a Saab 9-5 NG sedan in South Hesse. They drive several vehicles to the test, but are never quite happy with color choice or equipment. A few days later, they visit me and find out about the vehicle that Markus has in the infirmary. Color, equipment and engine tuning, the Saab is ordered unobserved. A good decision ! But no one suspects in the approach what it is about and what will be entrusted in the next few days in Gothenburg the ferry to Germany ...
Only when the Schwedenfähre docked in Kiel, the 9-5 rolls off board, it is slowly becoming clear to all involved, that here a single piece with Saab history landed. Milford Proving Ground stickers on the windows give the first taste, in the glove compartment Markus Lafrentz finds the other documents. Is there a Saab in front of us that belongs in a collection, or should you really let the Swede into the traffic? It's too late for a discussion. The car is already sold and will be converted. Tacho and navigation are converted to German versions, instead of the Vector Front, an Aero optics is mounted on customer request. All components could be retrofitted if later desired. As a tranquilizer for the keepers of Saab history.
After Kiel has completed the modifications, the Saab gets its German approval. He is now in South Hesse and in very good, very Saab-crazy hands. I could not imagine better owners. And because it is a unique piece with some value, we do not publish pictures with marks. All good? As always with Saab, happiness and drama are closely intertwined. As with every great Nordland saga, there is a sad story in the background.
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 has the transatlantic survived, not the twin? Perhaps it was the manual gearshift that made a superficial preselection that set aside the 9-5 as a supposed European model, while the US version with automatic had to believe it. He was more likely to suffer from cruise control. An option for model year 2012 that should never be marketed.
Is it allowed to move a Saab single piece, with this history in the background, in everyday life? Or should he disappear in a collection? I think you should drive him because he was built for that. Cars have to be moved. What do 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