The first, last and the astronaut Saab

From Saab's point of view, a few remarkable days are behind us. Let's start in Finland. In Uusikaupunki was celebrated. Before 50 years, the first Saab ran off the line. More specifically, on the 13.11.1969. The prelude to the Finnish Saab production and the beginning of a success story. In Finland one still builds cars, the location is appreciated worldwide. Just not Saabs anymore.

The really last Saab
The really last Saab. Photo: NEVS

The origins of Saab production are due to an arms business. The purchase of weapons from Swedish production in exchange for a national car production. That was not unusual. The Wallenbergs gladly used their car manufacturing to stimulate demand for armaments. Among others, Saab 96, 900 Cabriolet, 9-3 Viggen, Cabrio and some Aero were built in Uusikupunki. The quality of the Finnish vehicles has always been better than that of the Swedish parent company, which is a story in itself. The Scandinavian connection of 1969 held until the year 2003. A fixed percentage of the annual output came from Uusikaupunki, which the Swedes call Nystad. GM then bought Saab out of the production commitment.

Valmet Automotive, then still Saab-Valmet, has brought the original film from the 13.11.60 from the archives for the anniversary. A piece of Saab and contemporary history.

The last Saab

That celebrating the historical event in Finland is understandable. Remarkably, however, is how the sale of the last Saabs of NEVS is celebrated in the social media. Actually, it's a sad day, the end of a story, and no cause for celebration. (Tomorrow more on the blog)

In any case, the last Saab was auctioned a little above the estimated price and changes from Sweden to Denmark. His buyer Claus Spaangaard runs a garage and tire service in Hadsund. In the meantime he was in the former factory and the car was handed over. The end of a story.

The astronaut Saab

It is known that pilots like to access products of the brand Saab. The exchange of ideas between car and aircraft manufacturers ran well into the 90 years. The best examples are ergonomic cockpits and the night panel inspired by aviation engineers.

The astronaut Saab of Christer Fuglesang
The astronaut Saab of Christer Fuglesang

It is less well known that an astronaut Saab was also affine. Christer fuglesang, the first Scandinavian in space, 1988 bought a Saab 9000 CC. Not a turbo, but the then quite new on the market available 16v injector with 126 PS, which may pass as a choice of reason. Since Fuglesang worked as a project manager at CERN in Geneva, the limousine was first registered in Switzerland. 1992 joined the scientist in the course of the Euromir mission to Russia in the star City Svyosdyn Gorodok. His Saab came, of course. The 9000 CC has received international recognition and has been driving for years through an area that is accessible to very few people. He left Russia again 1997, as his owner moved to NASA.

Since then the 9000 CC is back in Sweden and was used as a summer car. Fuglesang sold after more than 30 years the CC, which has a lot of history. Slightly more than 300.000 kilometers had accumulated, it was offered on a well-known Swedish platform. The price for so much Swedish history and space history, however, was shamefully low. Less than 1.000 € were called, the buyer has acquired a lot of interesting past for little money. Maybe the CC will emerge as a speculative object from prominent prior ownership in another place soon.

12 thoughts too "The first, last and the astronaut Saab"

  • Thank you very much for this once again very interesting article, which linguistically very gallantly spans the bows between different decades and very different topics!

    And the blog contributes a lot to general education, I have learned a lot of interesting facts and new things again: Not just Saab-specific (e.g. that the Saabs from Finland were better; my first Saab, a 9-3 I convertible, built in 2002 came from there), but also about the history of space travel (never heard of the “Star City”) and many other things. It also speaks for the astronaut that he did not want to capitalize on his prominence when selling the 9000. Did the buyer even know who the seller was? And, dear Tom, how do you find out about such backgrounds?

    It is also very interesting how social change has been documented in passing: In the ceremonial opening film by 1969, the group of dignitaries, journalists, etc. consists exclusively of a sea of ​​(more or less bald) men. (But was not it a driver who drove up the first Saab?) Can I see badly here on the phone, if so - that's the way she's got, the advanced Scandinavians!). And in the sad report on the end of Saab 2003, to which I was referred, you only see women.

    And it's a sad story once again about the end of Saab - if that were ... 🙁 Could not some Saabs be built for us at Valmet, which is up to date? 😉 😉

    Many thanks for this interesting and at the same time thought-provoking start of the week! 🙂

  • PS: What role did the Wallenbergs actually play? Until when did you hold shares in the automotive division of Saab? Until the 100 percent sale to GM? Or until the first entry of GM? Or did the participation end much earlier?

    • The automotive business was, from a historical perspective, part of Saab AB. The Wallenberg family was the largest shareholder through the family foundation, investment company (investor) or personally held shares. In fact, the Wallenbergs (correctly the then controlled by them Saab AB) on the Saab Automobile AB were still there until the complete takeover by GM with 50%. The industrial leadership was held by the Americans.

  • Thanks for the quick and very enlightening answer! 🙂

  • PPS: Unfortunately I overlooked the (exclusively female!) Workers in the Saab “overalls” who put on the wreaths and who were working on the passage arch. So far very progressive, in (West) Germany Mummy had to stay at the stove at home. Perhaps many skilful female hands contributed to the good FI Saabs at Valmet? 😉 Please do not misunderstand, I do not want to open a feminist discussion here, I find it only interesting from a social and work history perspective.

  • Not only Saab were built in Finland, also the Opel Calibra ran off the line! Quantity 93.978 !!

    • Not only. Valmet has meanwhile produced vehicles for 10 brands.

  • For what reason were the Finnish Saabs better than the Swedish?

  • ... is funny, got an old GDR magazine “Technikus” in the hand in the weekend, in which they write from the beginning of Finnish automobile production in 1968 with Finnish help, 99 bodies are visible on a picture, the magazine was from 1986.

  • Porsche read there also parallel the Boxter and the 911 convertible build in the 90ern or 2000ern.
    Today it should still be the Cayman who runs off the line there.

    At Saab it was as much as I know the Saab 9-3 I Convertible as well as the 9000 Aero models, which were manufactured there.
    The convertible was then from the end of 2004 to Graz to Magna and from there it should have been the same with the production of Swedish vehicles in Finland.

  • Laurel for the 9-3

    International bidders and a garage owner with the highest bid. That speaks for the car.

    @ Ken-Daniel S,

    I do not know exactly, but the production by contractors and their quality control are often meticulous. Cars from Austria also have a good reputation. It would also be embarrassing if you could not keep up with the main plants ...
    The dependence and motivation is high, the error rate is lower.

  • I know that the Finnish production of brands like Talbot / Chrysler has little to do with SAAB, but I would be interested in this topic. Unfortunately you can hardly find any information ... would not that be an interesting excursus for the blog? After all, after all, the Talbot models should have had SAAB seats. So in general the history of (SAAB-) Valmet with brands like Talbot or Lada or prototypes like the 9000 CV or V8

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