Once upon a time in Trollhättan ...

It must have been 1986 or 1987 when I first came through Trollhättan ... in the middle of the night, on my way to Stockholm. I knew nothing more about Saab than that the brand was Swedish. The Saab factory? No matter. The city only became interesting as a travel destination in 2010. Ironically, the impending closure and the restart under Victor Muller brought the plant into focus.

Autumn morning sun, the work in October 2011
Autumn morning sun, the work in October 2011

The Saab Festival served as the occasion, the 9-5 was allowed to visit back home. The streets were full of Saabs for the festival, two-stroke and turbo sound was in the air. The city would never be so full of Saabs afterwards. The factory - a kind of holy place for fans from all over the world. Obviously, it wasn’t. The streets around the site are full of potholes, the buildings in the style of the 80s, the gravel area in front of the plant is part of nature. We didn't care! Fascinated, we stood at the fence and saw how every few minutes a new 9-5 rolled off the conveyor belt.

If we had already known at the time that every newly produced vehicle was automatically owned by a GM financial subsidiary, we would have suspected that Detroit Saab did not leave any air to breathe. We would have run away crying.

Trollhättan, Saab plant, October 2011

In the Swedish autumn sun the factory develops an almost poetic beauty. It is sleeping, the Saab factory. No production, no employees, only one man from the security service is waiting for us. The fight for Saab is at its peak, we pick up the vehicles for the Saab dealer tour.

A quick picture in front of the main portal, a photo in front of the huge Saab pylons, which seem so powerfully built for all eternity. The two Saab 9-5 sports suits are pre-series vehicles. Normally they will have a short life and being allowed to travel to Germany is an exception in turbulent times. That's how we think. That it will continue to France and Spain, that both station wagons will survive the factory and the brand, that is a madness of Saab history. But nobody suspected that at the time.

Around the Saab factory, April 2012

The insolvency administrators are now in charge of the plant. They keep the painting line in standby mode, they collect Saab vehicles and prototypes around the world. Saabs from testing, the pre-series, meet on the gravel yard in front of the plant. There are rare vehicles among them; Colors we've never seen before, lots of missed opportunities.

Mark and I are running around the factory. Main portal, gravel place, north portal. The road between airfield and press shop, close to the Göta Älv. The security service is stress, the Skoda of the security service does not let us out of sight. He could have had it easier too. A long walk with two crazy Germans, we would have taken him.

The thing is sad. Most vehicles, including new Turbo X and convertibles, are scrapped. The 9-5 bodyshells will never build cars.

The Saab flags are blowing. June 2012.

The waving Saab flags give the impression that everything is alright. If it is not, the factory is sold to NEVS. In Trollhättan the reactions are restrained. Departure or rejoicing, none of it is really felt. Maybe a clue what will be 4 years later, almost to the day. Then NEVS will get the Saab logo from the factory.

But it is not yet time. Summer, sun, Saab flags in the wind. And hope for a good future.

May 2013. Saab Festival.

The work as a backdrop. It is not more. Fans drive to the main portal, take a souvenir photo. There were rumors beforehand. NEVS would use the festival to show new products. Nothing happens, the plant remains closed, the parking lot in front of the plant serves as a race track on these days.

You do not have to walk around the factory area. You could, but it does not work. Because nothing is visible, because everything is tidied up. The sightlines are obstructed with containers, the terrain is as walled in.

December 2013. Restart in the factory.

How is that with hope? She dies last but she dies reliably. Before that there is a short high, in the plant world one speaks of a fear bloom. The work comes to life again after a long time. A minister who is no longer in office flies in from Stockholm. Representatives from China and local political celebrities. Suppliers from Germany are driven in buses through the city, the departure is there.

Of course we want to believe that, and we want to be there. Air ticket, car rental, hotel booked. And indeed: NEVS delivers a great staging and drive the first new Saabs off the line.

Final visit. Saab Festival 2015

Somehow we have lost the desire and maybe the hope. Mark and I have been in Trollhättan time and again, but the frequency of visits has dropped over the years. Maybe we are like many Swedes who have graduated in Saab history.

For the 2015 festival, NEVS opened the gates to the Saab plant, specifically to the Powertrain Complex, which has so much Saab history of the 80s. The 9000 is still as present in the rooms as if it had been designed yesterday. A great gesture to the fans, even if the condition of the labs speaks a clear language. Investments are needed if you want to play in the first league in the future.

Already 2015 there was the rumor with the Saab lettering, which should be removed. They stayed up. More 12 months.

17 thoughts on "Once upon a time in Trollhättan ..."

  • In a nutshell! Excellent!

  • LONG LIVE (every) SAAB (out there). AND LONG LIVE ORIO.

    Honestly, spare parts and upgrades for existing SAABs are now of much more interest to me than a company, taking no interest in SAAB owners at all ...

  • With people, I am happy when the message says ...

    "SURPRISED"

    or

    "AFTER A SHORT, SERIOUS ILLNESS"

    Of course, I am not happy because someone died, but because this person and their friends and relatives spared a long ordeal and they could enjoy life until just before the end. The way of SAAB was truly different.

    The dealer tour in full honor. It was an emergency operation that made hope for the new SC and 9-4X and that it could go on ...

    But from then on, the “relatives” (all SAAB enthusiasts) were actually only fooled. The patient was dead.

    Until the complete removal and sausage of usable organs, nobody was allowed to know ...

  • Oh, I am glad to have been to 2014 in Trollhättan and to have seen the mighty SAAB lettering on the building!

  • If sadness opens up while reading it is well written again.
    Each one of us who has been to Trollhaettan before will honor his paintings.
    Once photographing his Saab in front of the factory or on the oversized Saab lettering, that's what! To have seen the 9.5 and 9.4X on the Saab promotions tour remains.
    My family has had a "new" Saab for a few days.
    After failing with an 9000, my son and friend bought a 9.5 Sportcombi with Chrombrlle last week, a bright black leather dream.
    Let us honor what we have. We will be envious, in any case at the next meeting and our exits.

  • I was very fortunate - apart from the company car - to be able to drive and own Saab my entire car life. We would certainly have known that at some point there would be no more new cars - we would probably have kept one or the other almost all of them and never gave them away. It all started with one of the last 96s, later came several Saab 90s, then three classic Saab 900s before a Saab 9000 CC and a 9000 CS were introduced. This is followed by a Saab 9-5 that we still drive. I was even able to infect my fiancée with the Saab Vierus - she drives a Saab 9-3 Cabrio Bj 2009. For us it is unimaginable at some point not to have a Saab in front of the door or even in the garage

  • Orio is undoubtedly behind Saab, we have been in constant communication in the last few days. Orio may reply with a press release. Also, Orio Germany will actively support our Saab summer action, which will start in the next few days

    To GM and Saab: There was a global assignment between Saab Automobile and Ally Financial. Every built vehicle automatically became the property of Ally, the financial dependency was total. GM was able to counterbalance claims at will, which was later done to the bankruptcy trustees, and the scope for Saab was zero. Before anyone complains about GM: Reasonable and adult people have concluded these contracts without compulsion, Muller could also reject or renegotiate.

  • This is a new start, a good one, EVs are the future.
    And I think It's not illegal to put any kind of logo you want on The car you drive.
    As Long It's a safe, fun to drive, good looking and good quality car with Saab gens.

  • I bought 2010 my first SAAB, a 9-5 2.3t 10 years old wagon was by accident, now I have a 2007er 9-5 AERO, unfortunately there is a lot of GM in it, but he's just great.
    When I bought the station wagon at the time, I first learned that SAAB was in a bad state. Since then I'm a fan of SAAB and I'll keep driving Saab while it's still possible.
    I've been following a lot of SAAB blogs for a long time and am sad that there will not be a new SAAB in (at least in the near future) but I also think it's better for NEVS to get their new projects under a new name market.
    Who knows, maybe someday SAAB will emerge again, see at Maybach, or especially in the bicycle industry Victoria, Kreidler, Adler, etc

  • Hi all,

    that makes me really very sad somehow.

    Then we hope that Orio will not let us down when we get the vehicles that are still available!

    "If we had already known at the time that every newly produced vehicle was automatically owned by a GM financial subsidiary, we would have suspected that Detroit Saab would not have air to breathe."
    Is there actually more information available?

  • The factory will stay, it looks like NEVS will “deliver”. The first details of the very interesting meeting at the plant on Wednesday, where Mark and I unfortunately could not be there, sound promising. One of the participants will be contributing to the blog in the next few days.

  • Are the white prototypes before the test factory Buicks or 9-5 Mulettos?

  • Very bad everything. 🙁

    But thanks to the “Saab dealer tour” (most likely) I'm still with the brand! And almost “more persistently” than before.
    So also had something “good” (at least for me personally)! 😉

  • Very good summary of the last years but unfortunately with a verdugiges end for Saab new cars.

  • felt our first SAAB was only a car, now SAAB is almost a lifestyle, at least in the automotive sector and nothing there that could even be replaced even SAAB.
    The interest in the Saabresten is therefore high, so please continue to report what NEVS and others forge from the leftovers. It seems to me almost like the Bauhaus which 1933 was expelled from Germany and whose ideas spread throughout the world. Maybe there will be more SAAB soon than ever before!

  • Swan song about a car factory in Trollhättan.
    The emotional summary of the last few years shows once again the painful "dying" in installments.
    The reality now is: the world continues to turn without new SAAB's. Farewell is always hard.

    Will Trollhättan remain as a work ??? NEVS must first “deliver”!

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