The schedule was tight, but Saab met the deadlines, more or less. The last part of the Saab 900 NG saga begins. In 1993 the 900 II was ready for delivery and it had become a real Saab. The design quotes the predecessor and it introduces many innovations.
The ingenious night panel, then known as the black panel, is one of them. A newly developed carrier, which accommodates the headrests and belts, reliably protects passengers on the rear seat bench.
A Saab idea, implemented by Autoliv, which also improves the rigidity of the body. The Safeseat Concept is another milestone. It prevents passengers from diving under their seat belts during an accident. The famous Saab Trionic has now also moved into the middle class. When it comes to ergonomics, safety and environmental friendliness, the new one is groundbreaking.
The 900 II is comfortable, practical and very fast with the powerful turbo engines. Optionally a sports car, a station wagon or a family car. A multitool and just typical Saab.
The Saab 900 NG saga and the alternative facts
Nevertheless, dark clouds are gathering. It takes revenge that an almost finished project was transformed onto a foreign platform under time pressure. Two worlds, two philosophies, that couldn't go well! Quality and manufacturing problems are increasing, which is also due to the increased clock rate in the Saab factory. The production time that has been reduced from 110 for the 900 I to 40 hours for the 900 II is perhaps too ambitious. Saab sets up a task force, pulls developers away from other projects. Improves under pressure. As production progresses, the 900 II gets better from year to year.
At the same time, the press is firing on the new Saab. Constructs an Opel family that does not even exist to this extent. There is hardly any Opel under the sheet metal. Except for the V6, the famous engines all come from Saab. The manual transmissions from Saab, the automatic from Aisin. Opel buys Saab transmissions on a large scale, which are more robust than their own designs, and installs them in their own vehicles. The press doesn't write about it.
Many come from medium-sized Swedish suppliers who have worked for Saab long before. Yes, in the interior one finds scattered counters from the group shelves. At the mirrors, for example. That's not different with other small brands. Aston Martin has Ford switches in the interior, Volvo too. The brand from Gothenburg has been using Ford's floor panels for decades on a grand scale. But nobody in the press is interested, nobody writes the cars down.
The 900 II is a Saab through and through. Until just on the bottom group, which, however, was heavily modified. Only the handling, the slightly wooden rolling, reminiscent of an Opel. It is the unholy sound of Vectra and Co, who keeps recalling the organ donation from Rüsselsheim.
But the alternative facts are a potent poison. To this day, the 900 NG has not gotten rid of the unjustified Opel image of the 80s.
1993, beyond Sweden
I've been driving Saab since 1992. A 900 S Sport. A black coupe with a sunroof, leather, air conditioning and everything you could want. I am very satisfied, but my Saab dealer no longer exists. Saab Germany is temporarily taking over the dealership, and while my 900 is being inspected, I drive the new 900 II.
There are cars that leave an impression. Their first ride you will never forget. And there are cars that you never remember. As if they never existed. The 900 II belongs to the first kind. I remember as if it had been yesterday, at the first meeting. The strong 185 PS Turbo, the quiet in the interior and the then perceived as generous space. The gearbox, which was so soft compared to the 900 I, and the great seats. A dream of a car, and a big hit.
Saab was at the forefront with the 900 NG. I liked the car from the first moment, but I didn't buy one. Why? That said inspection ended in disaster for Saab. An unpleasant correspondence followed and in the end the agreement was only reached under pressure from a lawyer. All of this could have been avoided if the obvious had been accepted.
What happened? The brake pads were due during the inspection. They were calculated, but not exchanged. A mistake, perhaps, a negligence. A few days later sheet metal braked on sheet metal, the brake discs were then also behind them. Saab Germany refused to admit the mistake until my lawyer took on the matter.
My Saab story could have been over at that time. But she was not. I drove on several Saab 900 and ignored the brand and its official agencies otherwise. That did not change until years later, when an unexpected Saab manager was standing in front of my door. The initial spark to buy a new Saab. But that's another story.
Saab 900 NG Saga - Epilogue
The 900 NG saved Saab from sinking. As Project 102, it brought the rescue without which GM would not have entered Trollhättan. Its design is typical of a Saab, as is its interior, the powerful engines, the clever innovations. Actually everything, except for the floor pan. On a sober level, it was a completely impossible choice, just as the relationship with the Americans was out of the question from the start. But there were no alternatives. Without GM, and without the basis of the Opel Vectra platform, the Saab saga would have ended in 1990 or 91.
The 900 NG is a car with a tragic history. The madness of marrying a well-advanced project to an unfamiliar underbody has cost Saab a great deal of money and reputation. It would probably have been cheaper to start over in 1990 with a blank sheet of paper. But looking back is always smarter.
Also, almost everything Saab did from 1990 onwards was madness. A company that launched just 1947 new cars between 1990 and 3 was in top form. In the plant world this is called the “fear flower”, the fear of destruction. Parallel to the 900 II, the second 9000 generation was launched, and development for the first luxury class Saab began - without major investments and without hiring more employees. The upper-class Saab never existed, because ultimately there was a lack of courage. 900 II and 9000 II turned out to be fabulous cars, hats off to that achievement!
The 900 II deserves to be maintained and maintained by the fans. Because he has an unusual story to tell. And which car can it already?
But unfortunately the opposite is the case. The alternative facts of the motor press, which for various reasons did not want to deal with the true history of its origins, still have an effect today. What a pity. A missed opportunity, because the genesis provides good material and a lot of drama. Finding a good 900 II today has become difficult. They were needed and consumed. But seldom loved.