His entry into the auto industry was 1957 at ANA in Nyköping. The journalist Sten Wennlo took over the post of press officer. That he would once become the trailblazer of success in the Saab Automobile Division, was not yet foreseeable.
ANA was at that time as a subsidiary of Nordiska Kompaniet and responsible for the distribution and license production of various car brands. Three years later, after a period of gradual decline, ANA was bought by Saab AB. Sten Wennlo, probably worn down by the development, considered the termination and change to another industry.
It was only at the last minute that he decided on a new contract with Saab. A decision that should remain valid for his entire professional life. In 1965 Wennlo became sales manager of the Saab car division, 1972 marketing manager and from 1976 to 1987 head of Saab car production. His decision that made the turbo possible became legendary. Shortly after being appointed head of car production, Bengt Gadefeld introduced him to the Saab 99 Turbo. Allegedly the test drive took an evening and a half night. In the end, there was enthusiasm and the decision to present the Turbo the following autumn. The turbo legend, which would shape the brand to the end, was born.
Sten Wennlo. Pioneer of success and the Saab 9000
The successful negotiations with Lancia and Fiat, the realization of the fabulous Saab 9000, are also attributed to Wennlo. With him began good and profitable years for the brand. The employment in Trollhättan and Nyköping reached a climax, the development of the autodivision had arrived at the zenith. In North America, Wennlo brought Bob Sinclair back to the brand. He became the driving force behind the 900 Cabriolet, which would never have existed without his commitment.
Without Wennlo, Saab would probably never have been able to break away from the image of cheap two-stroke engines. There would have been no cultivated upper class from Trollhättan, no convertibles, no turbo engines. Wennlo turned a small manufacturer of robust small cars into what would be called a premium supplier today.
Sten Wennlo, born in 1925 and raised in Berga near Kalmar, wrote about his time at the brand in the book “Mitt Live Med Saab”. He loved golf, promoted culture in his hometown Nyköping and wrote a column for the local newspaper until the very end. The pioneer of success, who significantly shaped the small cult brand from Trollhättan, has left us. He died on October 11, 10 in Nyköping, 2017.