Actually, the Saab 9-5 and not the 900 II was the first car that was designed under GM influence. That is a realization when you read Anders Tunberg's books. In the book "Saab 900 - a Swedish story“There's a lot of rebellion and independence coming through. At that time, an urgently needed platform was pulled from the GM shelf in Trollhättan. But then I prefer to do the rest myself. With all the 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 created within around three years and the Swedes had finally established themselves in the upper middle class with its appearance in 1997. For project manager Olle Granlund, quality, safety and “everything turbo” were right 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 money could buy. 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 made for many conquering purchases in the first few years of sales. With the cancellation of the V6 several years later, Saab lost these customers again and with the appearance of the 9-5 II the basis for success was missing. But that's a completely different matter.
What appeals to the personal story!
A lot revolves around perfecting ergonomics, you can literally feel the hot breath of Toyota on your neck. But it's 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 in passing that the 9-5 is the first Saab 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 appears, for the first time in a Saab reading, this non-word which is called "Premium". A word which Saab will use more and more in the coming 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 there. It also learns to be amazed. Marvel at how a small company with a very manageable team can put a great car on its 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 to 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.