In January I had the “Stora Boken om Saab” briefly on the Blog presented. A really thick Saab book that contains 400 pages. A friend brought me a copy of “Pilots Wanted” from Sweden, an opportunity to do more than just take a quick look. To anticipate: The book does not tell the Saab story again.
Rather, it is a collection of articles that appeared in the Swedish edition of Auto-Motor-Sport about the cult brand from Trollhättan. An exciting message for everyone who lives south of Skåne and who is not subscribed to the AMS. Because the “Stora Boken om Saab” brings the completely crazy years between 2000 and 2011 back to life.
Everything starts harmlessly. The book starts with the beginnings of the brand, brings driving reports about classic Saab models, and garnishes that with beautiful pictures. In order to simplify navigation between the eras, the editors have marked the pages in color for orientation. A little classic, and then comes the 90s. The takeover by GM, a small Saab based on an Opel Astra, which luckily never existed, and then the years 2000 to 2010. They take up more than half of the book. And they are pure madness.
Or, to put it with the AMS headline: The ascent and descent from 2000 to 2010. What we in Germany only saw marginally and very filtered, you relive when you read this book. GM must have put billions of euros in the sand at Saab, solely through developments that were initiated and then stopped again.
A well-known project is the successor to the Saab 9-5, which was developed with Alfa Romeo on a premium platform. This resulted in Alfa Brera and 159, Saab previously solved the ticket to the emergency exit. Hardly anything is known about the projects 810 and 265 outside of Sweden. Code 810 was, once again, the dream of the great Saab. After project 106, the Saab 9000 successor, was discontinued in the early 90s, they planned a large hatchback on Holden base. 2005 also ended this project without result, just like project 265. A Saab SUV as a sister of the first Cadillac SRX generation could have come 2004 on the market. GM prevented the project. Only 2011 was the 9-4x together with the SRX successor reality.
Or the Saab Hybrid project, which was already 2001 mature for the market, and never went into production.
The book makes me sad, I admit it. If you are Saab fan, then you will inevitably get wet eyes when reading. Because everything was much worse than you thought. Because there were always solutions and possibilities, if you did not get a stop signal from Rüsselsheim or Detroit at the last minute. Saab was wiped out between the jealousies of Opel and the intrigues at GM. And Saab was too small to fight back. Or the Swedes too focused on the consensus and too little conflict-joyful.
Instead of own innovations there was badge engineering. Saab 9-2x and 9-7x are unfortunate witnesses of this. They damaged the reputation of the brand in Germany more than in Germany and were a low point of development. Still, and that's the crazy thing about the ascent and descent under GM, it always continued somehow. The 9-5 NG was considered as a dream car when he appeared. Although he had no hatchback, what should have seriously fought in Trollhättan. He would have come as a hybrid 2012, GM would not have previously separated from Saab. And 2010 should be a completely new 9 3 come on the market, 2011 a small Saab.
Reading the book is not for the faint of heart and also not for Saab romantics. Hope and frustration are dissolving, and it becomes clear that Saab is over for all time. Former employees have retired or joined other companies. Knowledge and spirit have been lost, the work is just an empty shell, and far too much time has passed. Past. Forever.
Surprise, the book is Swedish!
You just have to have the book. Even if it is on kisuaheli instead of written in Swedish. People of my generation, who were born in the dark, analogous early days, put a Swedish lexicon next to the book and fight each other line by line. The younger ones do that with an app. Why? Because otherwise you would miss something and because it is the ultimate Saab archive of a very big drama. You can buy it in the Online Shop Saab Car Museum, 400 Kronen / 40,00 € are small money for a lot of analog thrills.