Car culture rediscovered. The Saab Spotlight project.

The Saab Spotlight project was unknown to us until a few months ago. By chance we came across the seven video tapes that are around 30 years old and older. Labeled with Saab Spotlight, they awakened the instinct for discovery. What is behind it? There is no evidence of this on the Internet, and only older Saab partners have very poor memories. The search for clues is difficult, the results are rudimentary.

Saab 9000 and Citroën XM leave the Saab factory
Saab 9000 and Citroën XM leave the Saab factory

In the years between 1988 and 1991, maybe even later, the Spotlight editorial team worked for Saab. On behalf of the Swedes, she produced at least 9 videos, probably more. It was about the comparison of Saab models, especially of the two 9000 generations, with the competition. The contributions are usually around 15 minutes long. They were shot for internal use and international markets and dubbed in the respective national languages.

Cultural struggle in the 90s

The films are unique documents of sunken car culture - long before the SUV wave rolled and China was on the agenda. They show the concerns of the time and the proud self-image of a small brand. The Japanese are on the side with the concerns. The Japanese danger, as a Hamburg magazine was titled, also attacked the upper vehicle class in the 90s. Fully equipped, cheap in price and well processed, the brands from Nippon poached in North America. Successful - and in Gothenburg and Trollhättan there were concerns about the most important market.

The Saab Spotlight editorial team took care of the problem. She compared the Honda Legend intensely with the Saab 9000. The editorial team was not only concerned with the product. A clash of cultures, Europe against Asia. Tradition against attackers. A long video that makes you smile today. Perhaps. But maybe the topic, under different circumstances, is up to date again. In any case, the legend is forgotten today, at that time it was one of the favorites of US car buyers.

Saab against the rest. Small against large.

For old Europe, the Honda and its Nippon colleagues are the exception. Saab sees itself as being on par with other brands. The direct confrontation was sought confidently with the very large providers. BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar. Or with Alfa Romeo and Porsche. Yes, Porsche, really. There is also a special comparison. That much is revealed, of course, in favor of the Swedes. In the 90s, the automotive world was much more colorful than it is today. There were not only the well-known brands that make up the premium phalanx today. The French also made a contribution in the upper classes, and they were successful with it.

The Spotlight films are a piece of car culture. In their day, they were a tool to explain the strengths and weaknesses of their own product and the competition to sales people worldwide. In the present they send us on a journey of discovery. The films seem bizarre in parts, you can rediscover forgotten car models and note strange construction methods. And you will be amazed to discover a whole generation's preference for white tennis socks.

Whatever shines through is Saab's pride in the products. The classic 900, but above all the 9000 CC and CS. The exceptional car from Trollhättan, the surprise coup. The editors mostly remain fair in their judgment, sometimes a bit subjective, sometimes even baffled. And even the local rival, who is almost without a chance with somewhat outdated technology, is granted strengths that the layman might not have discovered without Spotlight editorial staff.

The editorial team digitized 7 films with external support and thus saved them from being forgotten. We will start a small series with the newly discovered car culture in the next few days and immerse ourselves in a bygone era. A little distraction can't hurt at times like this.

12 thoughts too "Car culture rediscovered. The Saab Spotlight project."

  • Great idea,

    I'm looking forward to it. Thank you for your great commitment.

  • Tom, great report. Now I'm really curious about the videos. It's like a time capsule. And not just because of the white socks. Wherever you find all of that ... respect not only from my side.

  • Marlin

    I'm as taut as a fishing line between swordfish and boat ...

    I witnessed a private, nightly and contemporary duel between 9K Aero and a 928 live in the early 1990s.
    Visually, the green scarab was a production vehicle and its driver was a good man. But he had the rogue on his neck and probably at least one deer under the hood.

    In any case, the at least optically enormously souped up 928 (widened fenders, fat rubbers, large rear spoiler) actually had no chance to generate superiority despite several attempts. With changing leadership, the snouts of the "good" Sweden and the Teuton were never more than one to two meters apart.

    Even though I caught up with the combatants at two red lights, I can't say anything about their socks. But at least one will probably have worn white tennis socks ...

    What is often forgotten today is how long it took Porsche to crack certain brands (top speed, performance, etc.).
    A look at the model history helps. From today's perspective, many models appear surprisingly tame and even lame ...
    Which is also not entirely fair, since Porsche has built small but fine sports cars for a long time. But that too becomes clear at a glance ...

  • A very nice idea. Thanks for that! Just the thing to escape a little bit from the present time!

  • Well, there are supposed to be people who thought the 928 was great. I am definitely not one of them. I still remember a friend who desperately tried not to let a Mercedes in first place. Only then he passed the Porsche completely relaxed with a considerable speed difference. I would therefore very much like to watch the film in question.

  • Very interesting! I Always enjoy watching filma about the world behind the Saabs in their historical context. Also when reading the various Saab books one realizes how fast the world has changed. The one thing that doesn't change is my admiration for the brand Saab and for the dedication and proudness of the people working on them. It really makes the identity of Saab!

  • @ TomL,

    that's exactly what I meant. Something like that. You could always cut out a Porsche in one way or another ...

    In Stuttgart, a 6,3 liter 8-cylinder was used for this when Porsche still used a 2,2 liter 4-cylinder.

    Duel 928 vs. In 9K, however, these relationships are almost exactly the opposite. That is also exciting. It is at least historically interesting.

    But what does historical mean?

    AMG is still building cars as if the displacement cannot be replaced by anything except displacement. And at Porsche, displacement and the vacuum cleaner are even celebrating a renaissance. In the latest car newspaper that my oldest (13) dragged, a new Cayman had 4,0 instead of 3,6 liters, but no turbo anymore ...

    According to the journalists, the result was convincing and the target group would not be bothered by the additional consumption. No wonder Greta is angry sometimes ...

  • Great idea ... there is a lot of anticipation. And is that the SAAB plant in Malmö on one section?

    • I suspect it is Malmo. The work was new and ultra-modern at the time, but before my time.

  • A little nostalgia can't hurt in these times… ..
    I'm really looking forward to it.

  • If you have more on Malmö on occasion, I am very interested and would like to read about it! So far - with all the previously praised and praised ideas with the “demolition of the tents” there with GM - there is so far surprisingly little to read. I think it is a very, very interesting time and idea of ​​SAAB that can show many thoughts and understandings at that time. In several ways.

    Thank you for “transferring” the videos to today's media that we can see and enjoy them here.
    Best regards!


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