Actually, the Saab 9-5 and not the 900 II was the first car that was constructed under the influence of GM. That is a realization when you read Anders Tunberg's books. In the book "Saab 900 - a Swedish story”A lot of rebellion and independence comes through. At that time, a much needed platform was pulled from the GM shelf in Trollhättan. The rest of the time, however, is better done by yourself. With all known effects.
At 9-5 the GM influence was a bit bigger. You can guess when you read between the lines. A balancing act for the designers. They had to conjure up a good car from American wishes and at the same time a convincing Saab. Without a doubt, it succeeded.
What the book tells about the 9-5
The 9000 was getting old and was becoming a problem. He had a strong following in the Anglo-Saxon countries, but that wasn't enough. In the USA, the Japanese poached, the fearful opponent was called Lexus. GM was looking for the right solution to this challenge. Trollhättan should deliver.
The Saab 9-5 was built within around three years and the Swedes had finally established themselves in the upper middle class when it appeared in 1997. For project manager Olle Granlund, quality, safety and “all turbo” were at the top of the list. In addition, there was very good ergonomics and the most convincing car seats in the world. With the new 9-5, Saab introduced the first ventilated seats in cars, which with their active headrests were the best that could be bought for money. Operation succeeded.
The 9-5 with asymmetrical V6 was also a world first and remains unique to this day. While the “old” Saab fans never really got warm with the six-cylinder, this powerful comfort drive ensured many conquests in the first few years of sales. With the cancellation of the V6 several years later, Saab lost these customers again and when the 9-5 II appeared the basis for success was missing. But that's a very different thing.
What appeals to the personal story!
It's a lot about perfecting ergonomics, you can literally feel the hot breath of Toyota on your neck. But it is also about the fact that a Saab chassis has to be the way it is. According to the self-image of the brand, the driver should be able to reliably “feel” the condition of the road and always receive feedback. You learn that the 9-5 is the first Saab ever to have a split rear axle. Another focus is quality. A promise that the first 9-5 copies, which are now over 20 years old, still keep.
In the book, for the first time in a Saab reading, this non-word appears which is called "Premium". A word that Saab will put more and more in his mouth in the next few years. Also, and especially at a time when some things were no longer premium. You can hide this premium stuff and concentrate on the facts. Because the book can deliver a lot. It also learns to be amazed. Amazed at how a small company with a very manageable team puts a great car on the wheels that can compete with the big brands.
But not so personal?
Compared to Tunberg's first Saab work, “Saab 9-5 A Personal Story” breathes less spirit. Why is it? Not the actors in Trollhättan. It is the corporate culture that could have changed in the 4 years that lie between the two plants. Project 104, the Saab 902, took place in an open working atmosphere. The author seems to have enjoyed more freedom during this time.
The book on Project 640 reflects more influence through marketing and a lack of personal stories. The Saab 9-5 story is still a book for fans. It is a piece of history, which alone makes it seem worthy to collect. It is only available antiquarian and like many things around Saab has become expensive in recent years. Some second-hand bookshops charge up to € 100,00 for unread copies. Those who find a well-preserved piece cheaper should not hesitate.
Information about the book:
Title: Saab 9-5 A personal story
Author: Anders Tunberg
Publisher: Norden Publishing House Ltd.