The missed opportunities and their consequences

Does anyone still remember 2015 and the Ida project? It all started with a disaster. An old and admittedly pretty neglected Saab 9-5 caused trouble. Not that this is Saab specific. Anyone who does not care for cars must face the consequences. Sooner or later.

Old becomes new. The Ida project started in Sweden in 2015
Old becomes new. The Ida project started in Sweden in 2015

The owner of the run-down 9-5 just wanted to get rid of him. He placed a humorous ad that met with media coverage. As a result, Orio and Maptun took care of the car and made it almost new. The story attracted attention and generated positive press. In the background was the idea of ​​refurbishing old Saab models in the future and making them fit for the next few decades with original spare parts.

A captivating idea that corresponds to the zeitgeist

Because using it longer is sustainable, avoiding consumption is good for the environment. Even if Saab no longer builds cars, what would have happened if a seal of approval brought almost new cars to the public? The idea was born, it was pursued only half-heartedly, and very soon Sweden decided on a different path.

Instead of staying in the niche and further strengthening Saab's core competence, they drifted into an adventure with auto parts for other brands. Of course, no one was waiting for another supplier on the market. The spare parts for Opel and VW were often left lying on the shelves and gathering dust. Tragically, old Saab parts had previously been disposed of to make room. Today they are missing.

Failures take revenge at some point

And at the moment you can use the example of the Saab 9-5 to see what happens to a product that no longer seems to concern anyone. The market is precarious. Two extremes collide. On the one hand, there is a large number of vehicles on offer that have been behind them. It's only about residual use or export.

The list of maintenance backlogs extends into infinity. It is particularly tragic in Sweden. The 9-5 is in the Top 10 the cheapest used car in Sweden. It was traded on the Blocket platform in July 2020 at an average price of around € 1.500 (Saab 9-5, 2006). A price at which only consumption is worthwhile. In this market situation, nobody will invest and maintain.

The idea was simple. To turn an old Saab into an almost new car
The idea was simple. To turn an old Saab into an almost new car

On the other hand are the very few enthusiast vehicles. They are meticulously cared for, and despite high mileage, they have the potential to continue offering their services for a long time.

What will happen in a few years is predictable

The old 9-5, which is still a fixture in workshop sales today, will largely disappear. The prognosis is bad. Because the 9-5 is not a coupe, a hatchback or a convertible. Just a limousine or a station wagon. And with all brands they are hit first and then with full force. It has to be noted that the German market is still relatively moderate in terms of Saab 9-5.

In other countries, see the example of Sweden, prices are in the deepest cellar. The story is through, done.

The Ida project 2015 at the Saab Festival
The Ida project 2015 at the Saab Festival

One could have taken countermeasures. Just 5 or 6 restored 9-5s from Sweden a year would have been a lot of tailwind. Always good press, an interesting niche topic, a special ration of positive psychology. It has been neglected and it will take revenge. Some failures can be corrected, others cannot. You should have started a few years ago to put away good, but cheap to buy basic vehicles. One could draw on that today.

Quickly buy another Saab 9-5

Actually, you're already running late. But not too late. Every now and then, interesting vehicles are offered. Still, because the end is in sight. Sometimes prices are disturbingly low, sometimes speculatively high. When it comes to aero, mileage is low. There is no such thing as one market and one general price trend. Everything is possible.

The great variety speaks in favor of the first 9-5 series. Three series with different characters. From the original model to the facelift to chrome glasses. Every taste is served, the technology is simple to robust, spare parts apart from special components are readily and cheaply available from known sources.

It gets exciting when you have special requests.

I went out and did it. Bought an old Saab 9-5. An odyssey where everything came together. It provides the basis for a series of articles that will begin next Wednesday and will appear weekly from then on. There is enough material.

Because it took a long time from the idea to the time the car was parked in my yard.

13 thoughts on "The missed opportunities and their consequences"

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    @ Black Swede,

    yes, really sad. If so and inevitable, then I hope that any 9-5 that is not received will get the maximum out of it and that other 9-5 will benefit.

    For example leather seats, NSW, AHK (removable), the better sound system or whatever is missing and understood as an upgrade.

    This could make some 9-5 owners happy and maybe even more 9-5 will switch from consumer to enthusiast property?

    This is the only way I could see a certain benefit in it, reconcile myself a little with the sad status quo. It would be a shame if good parts were left unused. It would also be neither sustainable nor ecological.

    Why should you melt down a good AHK, for example?

    I hope that Orio and the market for used parts will come to terms with a meaningful and seamless breakdown.
    But that's probably just wishful thinking ...

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    @Volvaab: I suspect the 9-5 are slaughtered to keep other 9-5 alive cheaply. Or to extend it a little over the rest of the TÜV. The future is pitch black. You just have to read through the relevant forums to learn what is NOT repaired in these cars.

    They'll go away quickly, that's for sure. Sad sad. 🙁

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    A few days ago I reported on a 9-5 I that I had pimped up. Now that I've driven a few km, I have to say that a 95 limousine from the first series is a very confident glider with a unique charisma. Even if my project won't pay off in CHF or euros, I enjoy this beautiful, timeless car every day. I think that's exactly how sustainability works, but neither politicians nor the majority of the population want that. Everyone jumps after the newest, the hippest, without realizing that they are actually only used as cash cows.

    And yesterday evening the show plus / minus on TV with the report about the Golf 8. I just ask myself how stupid are people who buy such a product in droves?

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    Swedish slaughter cattle?

    Do you know something about whether the Swedes like to cannibalize the 9-5 for other Saabs?
    For the 900 II and 9-3 I coupes and convertibles?

    Countless 140 and 240 series Volvos have taken this route. In Sweden their engines and transmissions were ripped out by the dozen.

    These organs were transplanted into humpback volvos and amazons. Sounds a bit like the wrong world when good and drive-relevant parts are removed from a younger vehicle in favor of an older one, but that's how it worked. And on a large scale. Countless humps and amazons suddenly had larger engines from the 140 and some behind them also had a 5-speed gearbox from the 240.

    The compatibility was given and what did not fit by itself was made to fit. The 140 series was almost wiped out even in S. And at the same time, the installations and conversions made sure that there are more modified humps and amazons than untampered originals. Some of them are amazingly active and some of them still look completely authentic.

    Is this (somewhat sad) story repeated using the example of Saab and the 9-5? And which other models may benefit from the noble donor?

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    I did it too: a laser-red 9-5 Aero SC from 2004 fully equipped, superbly prepared by the Saab center in Paderborn - the ideal addition to my 9-3 convertible. And despite its age, the 9-5 is so good at 180 tkm that I am considering whether my V90 company car has to be replaced at all at the end of the leasing period. It's really cool what this "old" car has to offer: very good long-haul quality, the ventilated seats, great air conditioning - and even the trunk with its interior width beats more modern vehicles. And in comparison you have a great all-round view.

    In any case, I am enthusiastic and feel like a pioneer in sustainability.

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    I would love to have a 9-5I, but finding a good one is really getting harder. The fans don't give it up

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    Probably true. Orio could / should have played a key role in terms of vehicle preservation and tradition maintenance - due to the lack of a manufacturer. In cooperation with the local Orio partners, they would have had a great network for this. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, only very few manufacturers develop any noteworthy commitment to this topic. At Volvo too, interest here seems to have waned since Geely. Regrettable!

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    Well, as an avowed 9k fan, of course, even in the time when the 9-5 was launched on the market, with engines as strange as the 3,0 L engine, which has far poorer consumption and agility values ​​than the 2,3, 9 L TU of our 9k's showed, absorbed the reports of acquaintances that were spread about the more than poor reliability of the 5-9. Someone who had always driven SAABs for his company said that his new 5-XNUMX had spent more time in the workshop since it was bought than he had taken it on the road. Sure, only American quality, imposed on the Tröllhättern.
    I only noticed half a year ago when I bought a 1997 902 CV that reality is not as simple a worldview as I had it back then. Lens equipped with a far better motor (B204L) than my 901 CV from 1992.
    On the other hand, my 1992 9k 2,3 TU is still the ultimate in vehicles that I have ever driven. It's good that I never sold it. But it's still a shame that the 9-5 is doing so badly today.

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    The IDA project would have been awesome. Old Saabs reprocessed and restored - refined with the latest gadgets. A dream! Orio was ahead of its time, almost visionary. She just had to do it.

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    I'm looking forward to the series.
    I like the 9-5 as well as the 9K.

    At that time, some of them scolded a lot. There was nothing more to add to the 9K, and not just for Ove. That's the way it is with clichés. They only form when a significant part of a group serves them ...

    When I held the book (German version) in my hands, I had to smile, because there are SC chrome glasses on the cover ...

    Be that as it may, it was partly the biggest fans of the Saab brand (especially the 9K) who went hardest with the 9-5. Like hooligans with the new coach of “their” soccer team after 2 defeats in a row ...

    I accompanied such an ove / hooligan on a test drive of a 9-5 Aero SC in full equipment and was also allowed to take the helm myself. It was awful. Terribly unjust. I liked the car. “Ove” didn't leave a single good hair on this one. That is no longer a Saab ...

    Now we have the trouble. Now there are really no Saabs anymore. And the Ove I know is completely fascinated by my 9-5.

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    Sad sad! 🙁 Tom and Jan are absolutely right!

    What is the current policy at Orio? Is there perhaps a rethink in sight? Did you learn that you can't get very far with spare parts from other brands? Wasn't there a recent change in the management of Orio Germany? (But the one who left, as far as I can remember, was a big Saab enthusiast. So probably more negative effects.)

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      No news. Short-time work in Sweden and quarterly or half-yearly figures that are as expected in COVID-19 times.

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    In principle, the Ida project was all about the Saab spirit. An idea that was picked up before you could even guess what role the issues of sustainability and longevity would one day play.

    Not only would it have received absolutely positive publicity, it would also have secured the market for the future, because restored cars would still have to be looked after. 20 cars a year, once across the product range. 9-5 sedans, 9-3 coupes or the increasingly rare 9000s. A win-win situation + one would still have cars that could be advertised on the road, which would have garnered sufficient attention and conviction. Because which sayings do you hear most often as a Saab driver? 1. It's still running? 2. You definitely won't get any more parts, right? Cars like Ida skilfully counter this.

    The Ida project cleverly showed how it can be done. And in 2020, when automobile manufacturers are slowed down by long discussions about harmful substances, you will suddenly rediscover the old stock. Porsche or BMW Classics as the best example. Restored company history, original parts and branded seals. Either on your own initiative or at the customer's request. This is how it is solved in Zuffenhausen, among others. A model that could have been transferred to the Saab workshops, because the know-how for good restaurant work is (not only) available in Germany. In this way, an exclusive portfolio could have come together every year.

    In the end, the Ida project shows and confirms only one thing: Once again there was an idea in the Saab scene that would only be properly understood years later. But you gave up - for whatever reason and in the end as so often. How many good ideas would have made it into implementation if the full potential had been tapped ?! There would have been a few!

    So it remains (again) only the sad confirmation. The Ida project and the 9-5 were kind of like precursors for the current discussion. The cars in Germany keep their owners longer and longer, even with government programs you can't get citizens to buy new ones. Upper, sustainable middle class for a pure ecological conscience would have been the key to the very own niche success.


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