Before 10 years ago. Saab for the last time at the IAA.

Frankfurt in the fall 2009. With a friend and two friends, I'm on my way to the IAA. Saab shows the new 9-5 generation. The fact that I will write a blog about the brand around 1 1 / 2 years later is very far away at this time. On the contrary. Because really Saab is no longer close to my heart. I've been through a lot with the brand.

IAA 2009. The last appearance of Saab in Frankfurt.
IAA 2009. The last appearance of Saab in Frankfurt.

There was my 9-3 II Aero Cabriolet. A really nice car and at the same time the metal-turned nightmare on four wheels. At kilometer reading 5.000 the Saab disappeared for comprehensive overhaul for days in the workshop. After that he worked again - for a short duration. When parts went defective, which one would have expected at mileage around the 200.000, I threw the towel unnerved. At exact 20.000 kilometers our relationship ended.

Previously, my Saab dealer had forgotten to forward the order for an 9-5 Anniversary Bio Power estate car to Sweden, so he was no longer available due to the plant holidays. The purchase of an exhibition vehicle failed due to the value of a tank; in short, I was fully served. The 9-3 hiked to the Mercedes dealership, vowing never to enter a Saab dealership again. At this point, the story could have ended. Then there would be no blog, the readers would use their time wisely otherwise. But then everything changed completely, which is a long story.

GM is also fed up with Saab

Not only do I have a dull relationship with Saab 2009. Also GM, struck by the financial crisis, has fed up with the Swedes. There is the nice story that GM simply deleted the Trollhättan location from the map of its former empire, pointing out Saab officials about the upcoming divorce. Whether the story really happened like this is uncertain. She is already believable.

By the end of the year 2008 is also clear in Sweden that the Americans will be serious. The national press speculates whether GM simply closes the plant or sells Saab. Can you actually sell Saab? The journalists ask. And Dagens Industri headlines, now the last chapter for Saab would have been opened. And should be right. At the beginning of 2009 GM sends its daughter into the reconstruction. The Swedish variant of a regulated bankruptcy to make the company debt free for new investors.

Saab presents the new 9-5 generation at the IAA 2009

Of course we do not suspect anything at the IAA 2009. Sure was, Saab is in any difficulties. Word has spread, but how deep the crisis was we do not reflect. On the contrary! We are looking forward to the 9-5NG, because a completely new Saab is already a rare event. And then he stands there on the Saab stand.

Big, elegant, impressive. A car that would not necessarily be attributed to the brand because of its size. Do I want to have it? To stay with the truth - not really! The first contact leaves me relatively cold. What is it? There is this strange atmosphere that may be temporary, maybe even for the whole fair time. It tastes of crisis, tension, and I can not classify it safely at the time.

Add to that the careless handling of the vehicles, the inexpensive materials that put me off on this day. Also, because I do not know the story behind it.

The Saab 9-5 NG is a Hesse!

The small Swedish brand is under fire from all sides at this time. Above all, the Opel works council has tried by all means to secure the production of the 9-5 NG for Rüsselsheim. To compensate you should have been allowed to build a pair of Opel Astra at Göta Älv. Not too many of course, just so that's enough. Where the intended shift will lead to is obvious. The strengthening of the Opel parent plant and, in the medium term, a complete settlement of Trollhättan. Oh yes, solidarity among the employees and works councils in the worldwide GM family does not exist for 2009.

If the financial crisis had not come, the latest Saab would probably have become a Hesse. That's for sure, the vehicles on the IAA 2009 and all pilot series models are. Because the tools for the production of the 9-5 NG reach only on Friday before the IAA start from Rüsselsheim coming Trollhättan.

Departure under the sign of the IAA?

Most visitors are unlikely to notice the drama surrounding Saab. The 9-5 NG arrives at the IAA 2009 much better than my audience. My friend, who drives Audi in the meantime, is still infected. He wants to order one then and drive as a company car. The virus does not release him even after 10 years, but unfortunately there is no cure. Because there are no new and thus no more company cars from Saab.

Another model is in the hype about the 9-5 almost under. Saab presents in Frankfurt the 9-3 X, a crossover station wagon that is one of my favorites among the new models. Some lifestyle mixed with the typical understatement of the brand. With the systems for success and departure. Unfortunately, he never receives the attention he deserves. And gets lost in the crisis.

Intrigues around Saab

In September 2009 indicates what 2011 will lead to the end of the brand. Intrigues, actors with an unclear agenda, big drama. There's Jan Åke Jonsson, the Saab CEO, who turns overnight from Saul to Paul and raises questions about his role. As a GM manager, he seems to Saab tough cuts, as CEO, he positioned himself superficially against the Detroiters. His role in the fight for survival will never be completely clear even after the separation from GM. Is he just the extended arm of the Americans and vicarious agent in the stablebacka?

There's BAIC. At this time, the state-owned company is still the preferred GM partner in China. The Chinese do not exclusively acquire the intellectual property of the old 9-5 and 9-3 II as well as Saab engines and transmissions. But they want more. At the IAA 2009 there are the first rumors. 25% share of Saab or maybe a little less? A little later they let the cat out of the bag. 20% would be absolutely sufficient. No seat on the Supervisory Board is desired, but many millions are announced for Trollhättan and ensures free market access in China.

A story that sounds too good to be true. But then you want to believe, because a straw for a drowning man can look like a tree trunk - and gives hope. One year later, BAIC will try to take over Saab as a whole. The poker game takes some time and ultimately fails due to a missing signature.

As a possible Saab buyer Christian von Koenigsegg is traded. The founder of the sports car manufacturer from Ängelholm has the entire package in view. A modern factory, exciting developments such as the electric four-wheel drive, a modular platform or the electric car concept, which is far ahead of its time. Together with the BAIC millions and the Chinese market access for its super sports cars a tempting offer. Koenigsegg finally strikes it, today he tries again under different circumstances and with NEVS and Evergrande. China lures, and even now the motivation of all involved is not as clear as it seems.

2019 - what's left?

The story of Saab is clear. There is nothing to interpret. The brand is dead and it stays that way. Jan Åke Jonsson is the obstetrician for startups in Sweden today and is otherwise well-employed. At BAIC, business is mediocre, and Koenigsegg lure new adventures. Next year, a Koenigsegg sports car will be built in Trollhättan. The circle then closes. After 11 years.

However, the most amazing development is the Saab 9-5 NG. He is still being built against all odds. Not in Rüsselsheim, but where a Saab was supposed to come from. In Trollhattan. Thank Victor Muller, he dares this adventure. The 9-5 brings it in a short time to a considerable maturity and drives directly into the hearts of the fans. I too buy one, I'm happy with it, and a little sad when he leaves. With its history, it is already one of the automobiles that are immortal for all time.

Thanks: At this point a big thank you to friend Uli, who has provided the pictures for this article. Without him, the realization of the contribution would not have been possible.

25 thoughts too "Before 10 years ago. Saab for the last time at the IAA."

  • Hello Tom, many thanks for this, not only in retrospect, very interesting report with many different remarkable aspects! One question: What was the year of construction of the “nightmare convertible”? From my experience, I cannot confirm such reports (which of course I don't want to doubt them). Every now and then you read about such “problem Saab”, as did the recent reader's contribution to his first 9-3 II sedan.

    I can not confirm this for my four Saab, they are totally reliable! My first Saab, an 9-3 I Cabri SE, Bj 2002, bought as a year-old car: zero problems. I drove to 2007, when I ordered an 9-3 II convertible MJ 2007 (inside facelift, not yet outside) as a new car with 150 PS Diesel. A great car with a fantastic engine. Apart from the strange fact that the alternator had to be replaced twice (in good faith) in the first five years - was previously probably a cheap component, the last held then to the end - here also no problems. Until I exchanged the jewel with a laughing and a crying eye 2017 for an even bigger piece of jewelry: A Griffin BioPower convertible, MJ 2012, with stomped 210 PS. Again, zero problems. The same applies to my second car, a totally reliable 160 PS Diesel SportCombi, BJ 2011, which I bought this year to relieve the convertible. Runs and runs and runs ...

    Were the others just “Monday cars”? Or was 2008 actually a very bad year, a dip in quality?

    And, if I may ask the question: Why did the blogger his 9 3 SC with Griffin optics actually sold (I had seen in Muckelbauer)? Also quality reasons? Not long ago, there was an interesting article about the question consume or sell, with the conclusion to overtake him and keep. Sorry for the curiosity - but if my friend is not totally wrong, nothing at my 9-3 SC must be overhauled, all ok, no rust, despite about 170.000 km. But maybe it's because it was always a garage car.

    All a good trip and no hassles with our wonderful Saab - for me they have been and still are the most reliable cars I've ever had! 🙂

    • The Aero Cabriolet was BJ 2004. A Monday car from the beginning unresolvable and nerves cost. By the way, the only monday car I ever had from Saab, and there were many. Otherwise, the quality always voted, to the end.

      Yes, why are you selling the 9-3 SC? I already know that it is always a political issue when I part with a Saab. So why: Firstly, because everything is in motion, nothing is set in stone, not even the blog. On the other hand, because objectively there are far too many cars and you cannot move and maintain them all. Above all because the older Saab are more important to me than the “modern” vehicles. However, to stay with the truth, the separation was not easy.

    • The alternator broke our 9-3 diesel for the first time at about 56 000km, because second time then at 145 000km broken.

  • PS: The 9-5 still looks (and so does the 9-3 Griffins) so highly up-to-date that it could be considered a BJ 2019. In fact, the big German competitors took about 10 years to get something similar to the little Swede. Very well described in the report. A miserable all that, but that's nothing new for us ... 🙁

    • BJ 2019

      Funny and true, what you're wearing PostScript.
      Just recently (before 2 or max 3 days) I got into a parking lot
      Vehicle tail in the corner of the eye. A nice rounded butt with the unexcited
      Taillights and it was also a convertible ...

      But only a few meters further in the direction of the own SAABs run, then came also the
      Front in the field of vision. As rugged as a quarry and with such a high bling-bling factor as
      you can easily cut diamonds worth X-billion dollar from simply
      pick up his grill.

      It was an MB. And my spontaneous thought was: “They still can't do it.”
      As for the design and appearance of younger SAABs, they are also for a BJ 2029
      still good when it goes on with MB, BMW, VW, Tesla and Volvo ...

  • An honest report that reflects the situation before 10 years ingeniously. Goose bumps! Thank you!

    • Goosebumps and honesty

      These were my first thoughts and more I can not think of ...
      A really great thrill and a fully accurate commentary.
      Thanks to Tom and thanks to you.

      • PS

        I remember something and I think it's important.
        Here also my thanks to Uli, whose photo gallery the article
        very, very good to carry and enriched ...

        Already at the first picture I wondered if it was coincidence or not
        The intention was that the wine red stripes in the polo and shirt of the
        Visitor correspond with the backdrop of the NG?

        I do not have to and do not want to know that exactly. The photos are good and
        always worth a thank you and a horsepower.

        • Thanks for the praise, Mr. Hürsch 🙂

          2009 photographed almost every detail of the new 9-5, creating almost 80 photos of the Saab stand and the cars on display, of which I sent the 40 to Tom. The Saab people thought back then that I would be a European-looking spy in the service of a Japanese manufacturer ...

          At that time I was as well as some other Saabists, I was fascinated by the shape of the 9-5, but bitterly disappointed by the material quality and feel in the interior, no comparison to the 900 (I). Nevertheless, the 9-5 was my personal favorite next to the Citroen C6.

          Today I am no longer attracted by a visit to the IAA, although I work only 20 km from the exhibition grounds. Electric cars, autonomous vehicles and the usual aggressive front masks, especially the German manufacturers do not interest me. In addition, the time of the big monster fairs has slowly overtaken, also recognizable in the print area, where the importance of Drupa goes back and the IPEX (UK) has become meaningless.

          What were those times in the 70ern: Saab showed the 99 EMS, Citroen was the last time represented with the DS, the Ro 80 shone with its innovative design, Lancia then said goodbye unfortunately of its elaborately built cars and integrated a lot of price-optimized Fiat Technique (Beta). Even a Polish minibus (Nysa) had done to me then ....

          Best regards,

          • That's delicious too ...

            If it had been like that (you a spy), maybe today we would have something in SAAB design 😉

  • PPS: The not-so-friendly Saab dealer from back then has certainly long since thrown in the towel and practiced in these Saab-adverse times no longer - I suppose (?).

    • The company still exists, but the Saab signs have been removed for some time.

      To keep it fair: workshop and service were always impeccable, the sales began to show weakness, as the longtime seller turned his back on the house.

  • Yes, yes, and yes the 9-5NG is a brilliant car that says no one likes saloons and can not imagine selling this car anymore. Of course a few product improvements would be nice to us so you live with a battery sucker and a not perfect bodywork.
    But honestly, a car that is 10 years old and still feels today as a new car, which other brand can say that?
    Space for batteries and É engines is there, who makes the right upgrade?

  • Thanks Tom for this great, but also sad report! Just what a pity what happened to Saab and.

    I was the same with the 9-5NG like you. I could extensively test it on the occasion of the Int.Saab meeting 2010 in Switzerland and then asked myself, do I want to have such a car? No was the first reaction, just to buy one of the last in the 2012! And yes, I enjoyed the even bigger (too big) 9-5 NG, but sold it in 2018. I'm also so, I just have too many cars, which costs and you can not always move them all enough. I have sold four Saab in the last 10 months, all at a good to very good price. I bought one, the wonderful 9-3X, the most misjudged vehicle on Saab.

    Incidentally, I can only confirm the impressions of Reader Ebasil. My Saab are extremely reliable. Of course, my have no big KM performance on the clock, but from age 1998 2009 to 70000 almost everything is there and all absolutely problem-free. (If I think of my neighbor, who already has the third transmission in his Tiguan with XNUMXkm or is it the differential? in his car ....)

    However, we cherish and care for our Saab! Always good ride.

  • I was also 2009 at the IAA. I even received two Saab tickets to visit the new 9-5 NG. I have not received that from any manufacturer before. Except for the quality impression and for me too high seating position, I found the car well (not great). The exterior design, however, had convinced me. Well done was the preparation on the website of Saab. It was a small film of employees from the designer, engine department, etc. and always a little more of the car to see. Until the IAA the film was complete on the net and the author could be considered. When I drove him to the dealer trial, I was very disappointed. The chassis was a gray, the build quality is not really good. So then the 9-5 sneaked out of my head and I stayed true to the) -3 SC.

  • An exciting review, Tom. Even more exciting, however, is the question of how the love for Saab then rekindled !?

    • An exciting question and the answer would make an interesting article. Unfortunately, it is also a bit spicy, because not quite common, which is why the readers have to give it up.

      • Spicy (!) Stories are of course all the more interesting ... 😉 However, I also hope for a short story about newly inflamed love - anyway and for that very reason 😉

    • I hope so too, the answer is still coming and I'm very curious about that.

      For the moment, however, the tension was excellent and very high. A real Tom just ...
      Everyone has hated, dismissed, possibly even betrayed SAAB * or at least avoided - GM, dt.
      Works Councils, an Internal CEO * and even the editor-in-chief of this blog. In his niche no more
      and no less than a leading medium, which was soon able to establish itself quickly and successfully.

      Sounds like Cliffhanger to me. How and why then something rekindled, yes
      even inflamed and brightly erupted, we will certainly find out ...
      At least I hope so with great confidence.

      • PS

        I hope that despite Tom's AW, which has overlapped with my comment, continue.
        However, now with much less confidence ...

  • The IAA 2009 was the last one I visited. I was looking forward to the new 9-5 and it was my highlight. He did not really convince me at the time (at least the pre-production models on show). At that time I did not have the feeling that I was facing the important (final) shot that saves the company.

    In general, the atmosphere was strange. The whole appearance was already cloudy by the colors. The situation was reflected on the stand (understandably). I always had a ritual in my IAA visits. I visited the fair, went through the halls, Saab tried to integrate somewhere well and always I went over to the Swedes shortly before the end of my visit. So also 2009 and that burned at that time. When I left the booth, it felt like I was seeing a good friend for the last time. They smile at each other again and the moment they turn around both know that they do not see each other again. Unfortunately, it just happened ...

    • “(…) And the moment both turn around (…)”

      You are a belletrist, Monsieur Anddeu.
      Nice and sad, what you write there and how you write it.
      Chapeau and Merci ...

    • Very poetic - and unfortunately so aptly sad ... I have to dry myself a tear.

  • 2009, I was there with a Saab-gifted ticket, the year before the IAA I had bought a new 9-3. It was a strange atmosphere on the stand because you felt that it was about survival. It was the first and last time I ever sat in a 9-5 NG. You could tell, that they were pre-production cars, but I thought, that will be a great car if it goes in series.
    The 9-3 were well-made, better than my my 2008, but I was not dissatisfied with that either.

  • Thanks a lot! Very interesting. The 9 5NG was built in the pre-series in Germany, I suspected at that time. Maybe even with a commissioned development service provider ...
    Maybe this is a little interesting anecdote and certainly one may talk about it in light of the time passed: I can remember that at least attachments (doors) at the company ThyssenKrupp Drauz Nothelfer in Saarland for the 9-5NG
    were built. Maybe they have also built the bodies for the pre-series.

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