Contemporary witnesses tell a story. Saab - WE did it!

After the first book about the Gunnar Ljungström era was quickly sold out at Saab, the authors have ventured to another work. Under the title "SAAB - WE dit it", Gunnar Larsson and Gunnar Johansson will shed light on Ljungström's time a second time.

Saab - we did it. New Saab book
Saab - we did it. New Saab book

This time, the focus is on the people who started together with Gunnar Ljungström Saab as an automaker on the way. The new book is not so much a narrative with little episodes about the brand. It's a documentary against forgetting because the first generation of Saab engineers is no longer living among us.

Witnesses tell how it all began

But there are still eyewitnesses who worked as young people with Ljungström and his crew. Her impressions, personal memories and what we would today call insider knowledge make the book strong. There are also images from Swedish private archives that have never before been accessible to the general public.

What does the book want to tell? The main character is Gunnar Ljungström. His life, his background and his family background take up a large part of the book. Over the years, the person Ljungström loses a bit, but other actors are more in the limelight. Svante Holm, Ragnar Wahrgren, Sven Otterbeck, Hugo Möller, Tryvge Holm or Karl Erik Sixten Andersson, whom everyone knows as Sixten Sason. You, and many other personalities, find their appreciation in more or less detailed chapters.

In addition to the people whose performance is appreciated, the history of Saab and the influence of powerful Swedish families plays a role. The transition from the aircraft manufacturer to the automaker, the boundaries that were always fluid. Engineers who developed a plane today found an offer to work on a car division project the next day. And vice versa.

The seeds of failure

As a critical reader, one also notices that already in the Ljungström era, the seed for failure was laid. Too small, too little expansion, too much sobriety in the background. This runs through the early Saab story and finds its first climax with the 99. The first really new vehicle since the 92, and already an excessive demand for the small manufacturer.

The 99 story goes almost wrong, the car is not really mature when it hits the market, and the engine is seriously causing trouble. But Saab solves all the problems, just so, and it goes on to the fabulous 900, which is a derivative of the 99. Then the problems start over, are solved with the magnificent 9000, and finally end at GM. But that's a different story.

After reading one thinks about the person Ljungström - the Saab has led well and thoughtfully. But who, according to own statement, harbored no car passion. Maybe, so one thinks then, with a little more passion in the background things would have been different. What if there had been more? As with other, big brands?

A monument to the pioneers

Should you buy the book? As written, it is not a short story story. But a biography for Ljungström and his men, to whom Gunnar Larsson and Gunnar Johansson have erected a memorial. The early history of the brand, the development of Trollhättan, tidying up with some myths and the questioning of very old eyewitnesses, all this makes the work very special.

If you measure it with the usual standards, you will complain about a lot. Much better could have been staged and better equipped. The topic alone deserves it. But, it's not a normal book. It was written and financed by people who went to the factory with a great deal of automotive expertise and affection for the brand. There is no publisher behind the work because the Saab Car Museum and the support organization have realized it. That alone deserves respect, but above all the fact that it has been published in English and is therefore accessible to an international readership.

Therefore, thumbs up, the book must be in every Saab bookshelf. It can over the Museum shop ordered or picked up when visiting Trollhättan.

7 thoughts too "Contemporary witnesses tell a story. Saab - WE did it!"

  • Thanks for the book tip. Fortunately, the museum and shop are on the program this year ...


    As far as the development of the brand, its models and derivatives are concerned, neither the protagonists nor the chroniclers should go too far with themselves or the brand. Above all, they can not and must not be measured by today's standards of the current model flood and current production and development cycles. Two examples:

    Before Mercedes introduced the 190 (later C-Class), MB had essentially only two model series. At Volvo, the derivative of the 1956 introduced Amazon in the form of the 240 lived just under 40 years into the 1990er. At least you can interpret the suspension with its unchanged gauge and the same or slightly extended wheelbase as a derivative. If you do not like to go that far, you just take the 1966 introduced 140. He lived on with almost identical doors and windshields in the 240 to 1993 just under 30 years (essentially still on the "platform" of the again 10 years older Amazon) ...

    Certainly many more examples could be found. But my point is already clear, I think and hope. SAAB was in good company with its development cycles and progress. The fact that the small and fine Nordic brand has managed to set new impulses and signs, even assuming the role of a pioneer, can not be overstated by the protagonists and engineers ...

    That SAAB also provided anecdotes in the early years - such as streamlined wheel arches of the front wheels, which iced in the far north on long uneven straights and no curve allowed, or racers who had to accelerate while braking and sometimes landed on the roof , but sometimes victories even - makes me the brand all the more sympathetic ...

    These were fantastic and progressive cars. Or just "only" but still contemporary. All good. I do not know any SAAB for which an engineer of the first or a later hour would be ashamed.

  • Already something. One only has to think about the eternal clinging to the two-stroke. That would have cost SAAB almost the head then. Nevertheless, they could build brilliant cars. Was it the constant scarcity of resources that spurred SAAB engineers to ingenious solutions? You could believe it.

    • There is something in each case ...

      Both above the book and her comment. But it is also true that afterwards you are always smarter. And SAAB was not the last of all 2T-Mohicans ...

      Back in D many people put their faith in 2-stroke engines and SAAB on the back of D. Manufacturers claimed that their 3 cylinder would replace an 6 cylinder. But even and just the "class enemy" built for a long time and far beyond SAAB / Scania 2-Takter. Namely huge diesel engines for impressive trucks with a lot of chrome and exhaust pipes in the dimension of factory chimneys.

      Given the historical background, I have leniency and my aversion to these engines largely dissolves in understanding and pleasure. At that time, that was probably beliefs. I have no idea which I would have fallen for ...


      It's impossible to talk about the 2 and 4 clocking principle without mentioning Husqvarna ...
      They invented a kind of hybrid. An 4-Takter, which has used the overflow channels of an 2-clock (however closed to the combustion chamber) for the lubrication. So you could save an oil pump, several moving parts, friction losses and weight. The bike was very successful at least in competitions. Husqvarna is more likely to share SAAB's history, but is living under the umbrella of a foreign and foreign corporation
      as a still existing brand still a shadowy existence. After all …

      I could not leave unmentioned here. Sorry. To my defense:
      After WW II I see a kind of pattern in what Swedish designers and engineers have produced over several decades. There was improvised and tinkered what the stuff held. The results have often set long-term standards in all possible areas. In photography, on the road, in the field, on construction sites, on foot and on water ...
      In the superordinate pattern SAAB is "only" a building block for me. But one who still moves me daily.

  • Really worth reading. Tom is right: it has to be on the shelf with every Saab fan. I also know that there have been contacts between the families Walenberg and Volvo but unfortunately it has become nothing. But the Saab would be sold to GM everybody knows; that was the biggest mistake and actually the harbinger of the end of Saab. Unfortunately, nothing is said about the talks between Saab and Volvo in the book.

  • I think I'll ask a friend to get me the book when he's at the Saab Festival

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