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.
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.