On the 28. 04. 1998 ran in Trollhättan the last Saab 9000 for Germany off the line. An 150 PS Softturbo CSE, Scarab Green, manual transmission. Whole 29 chassis numbers later was also the end for the rest of the world. The last Saab 9000 drove into the museum; Upper class with hatchback from Sweden should not exist anymore.
How could it come to this? The guilty parties, if there are any, are called Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Honda. The Japanese flooded North America with cheap hatchbacks in the 70s, 80s and 90s ... successful! GM was losing market share year after year, which must have triggered a hatchback phobia in Detroit. Since then, everything with a sloping rear has been classified as a cheap car from Asia in the Renaissance Center. For Saab, this meant the move to the 9-5 and 9-3 sedans - and the end of a tradition.
If GM and the market analysts had suspected that the market for classic sedans would experience a shrinking cure only a few years later - the decision would have been different. For Saab, a bit of the DNA was lost, the vehicles lost part of their charm, and with the end of the 9-3 I, the hatchback was finally history. That happened in 2002, but cars with large tailgates never completely left the Saab world.
Saab Design has incredible continuity, which can be seen from two people. Sixten Sason and Bjorn Envall. In the 60s, Envall worked with Sason on the Saab 99, then went to Opel for 2 years to continue working at Saab from 1969. Saab 99, 90, 900 and 9000 were designed by him or significantly influenced. The 9000 is the best Saab for him because it was “the only car where we were allowed to do what we wanted". The basic design of the 900 II is also attributed to Envall, who left Saab in 1992 to remain connected to the company.
Again and again he returned to Stallbacka for a few years, most recently in the years from 2006 to 2008 as a tech department consultant. Envall drives a Saab 9000 until today, and the hatchback is still his topic.
What would have been if? The question arises again and again, but the answer is missing. What if Saab had stuck to its design line? The small series would have developed a cult factor over the Saab 99, Saab 900 I & II, Saab 9-3 I. Similar to Porsche or Mini, where traditional design language is always translated anew. The 9000 II, which was never built, would have taken courage. A hatchback in the luxury class does not exist in the competition either; most recently VW backed down with the Phaeton study in 1999.
Björn Envall drew the rear of a possible 2006 II in 9000, before joining Saab again because he never let go of the topic 9000 successor. Aerospace is the name of his study, which bears the typical Saab hockey stick and the rims known as “Gurgenhobel”. The body has the wonderful shape of a wing, Saab Design, Ursaab and Sason say hello. The windscreen is extremely steep, you can see the cockpit. The rear is a reinterpretation of EV-1 and Saab 900 II.
Of course, the drawing of the Saab 9000 successor is just an idea. Sadly I have to say. With no prospect of realization, both in 2006 and 10 years later. Today large, angular, boring boxes called SUVs are in demand. People love uniformity ... apparently.
Nevertheless, a little hope is still. With Andreas Barbunopulos, NEVS has a former Saab designer among the designers, and 2018 has promised the world a hatchback. Does the story go on?