In the spring of 1974, work began on the 9000 in Trollhättan. A completely new car and the way to a higher class. Behind the project was nothing less than the future positioning of the brand. Exciting, groundbreaking, and by no means easy.
Because Saab had previously only launched two completely new developments. The 92 and 99. Everything else were just derivatives of these models. The challenge was accordingly big. The project took 10 years to be presented to the public. That was an unusually long period of time for development back then, too.
Even in Stuttgart, where Daimler worked on new generations with typical meticulousness, people were on the road faster. In fact, there was no straight path between 1974 and 1984. The development was characterized by trial, error and new ideas. Every now and then you made a wrong turn and started again. In the end, the result was correct and the result was an exceptional car.
The Saab 9000 was a surprise coup, it ensured the continued existence of the brand for a long time. But with the 9000, much more than just a new car came to the Stallbacka. The future moved in, and the Swedes benefited enormously from the cooperation with Turin. At that time, the Fiat Group was a technological leader in terms of automation.
While at Lancia, Alfa and Fiat the robot colleague had already taken on more and more work, at Saab the 99 and 900 were still screwed together with a lot of manual work. That sounds nostalgic today, but threatened the existence of the brand. What came off the production line in the Saab factories has long ceased to cover costs.
The 900 and its cost structure remained a problem until the end of production. But with the start of production of the Saab 9000, the factory in Stallbacka had been thoroughly modernized and now met the most modern standards. The engine production also benefited, the production of turbo engines was considered to be the most advanced in Northern Europe. The show of strength of the small brand made a decisive contribution to the fact that Saab survived the coming decades.
It is even likely that without the innovative strength and ingenuity of the engineers at the time, the lights in the Stallbacka would have gone out much earlier.
The film is now 36 years old. The recordings of the automated factory already seem tainted with nostalgia, especially when one has the factories of the present in mind that are compliant with Industry 4.0. The story of the Saab 9000 is told by the makers of the film, and they take a lot of time for it. Around 50 minutes are a testimony to a small, ingenious brand.
Which didn't always take the straight path, sometimes skidded, but always delivered great cars.