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From the September 2012 issue of Car & Driver:

http://blog.caranddriver.com/on-death-and-dying-saab-wont-return-in-2013-nor-will-maybach/

On Death and Dying: Saab Won’t Return in 2013, Nor Will Maybach
September 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm by Bruce McCall

We took it stoically when Hummer, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, and Saturn toppled over like a row of dominoes, and then when Maybach more recently took a draft of hemlock and expired. But the one departed marque that car people are still shedding genuine tears for is Saab.

Crocodile tears will suffice for Maybach. A few rap moguls notwithstanding, nobody much lamented the demise of this curious misstep by Daimler AG. With the Maybach, that iconic brand missed a fish-in-a-barrel opportunity to cash in on the proliferating worldwide demand for low-volume, high-prestige egomobiles priced into the stratocumulus.

Wouldn’t you just love to have been a fly on the wall when the board met to euthanize Maybach? “But-but-but, my dear colleagues,” whimpers Maybach’s head (seconds before he’s reassigned to be Assistant Truck Parts and Service Manager for Paraguay and northern Uruguay), “in the face of intimidating new competition like the reborn Bentley and Rolls-Royce and the Ferrari shooting brake and the Lambo SUV und so weiter, we all agreed on the genius of selling an S-class clone at three times the S-class price, gifting it with not a single technical advance—although, mein Gott, that set of fluted crystal champagne glasses in their own plush-lined locker!—under a brand name even more obscure but not quite as alluring as ‘Edsel’! It was, how do you say, a dunk-slam!”

Saab’s death was infinitely more painful to observe. Everybody loved Saab—the original, feisty Swedish rebel, not the half-hearted, dumbed-down assemblage of Opel and Vauxhall parts that gradually emerged from General Motors.

Saab started out on these shores as a pop-pop-popping two-stroke, homemade-looking winter wonder with a strictly regional New England enthusiasm but eventually went national, in a modest way. There was nothing else like it, which is why it survived the Darwinian culling of  U.S. imported-car nameplates from 1975 to 1985. Saab owners were the most emotionally attached in the car world. You can bet nobody at GM had the slightest clue why, or they wouldn’t have dared cheapening the brand with a rebadged Subaru Impreza and then a Chevy TrailBlazer.

The last of the homogenized blobs, which became Saabs under GM’s ham-handed reign, were advertised as “Born from Jets,” an irrelevant (and dishonest) lunge for an identity—any  identity—in the absence of a car anybody could care about. Saab then found itself thrown to the wolves (more like mice) in the form of the Dutch Spyker firm, a name as prominent in the automotive firmament as, say, Logan. Shrewd move, GM! Spyker realized in about a week that it was in way over its head, and orphaned Saab was circled by Chinese and Russian and Indian vultures, with no takers, then became a kind of ward of the Swedish state, whose welfare system failed to include carmakers. Finally, then, to a firm with roots in Hong Kong and Japan, whose plan is to revive the 9-3 as an EV. Don’t hold your breath.

The most melancholy aspect here is the haunting suspicion that Saab didn’t have to end this way, that there was a sufficient niche and a tidy profit to be found among the millions of enlightened car *buyers in Europe and America for a car of such sterling and singular virtues—if there was the nerve to stay true to its character.

But that would have taken a modicum of savvy to bring off. The Maybach and Saab sagas in their different ways—one a car so *charisma-challenged that nobody wanted it; the other, a car a lot of people wanted, snuffed before its time—just might suggest that the people who call the shots in big car companies are . . . fallible.

Three floors up along Mahogany Row, the same carmakers that set their serried ranks of  basement beancounters to conniving how to cut a nickel out of the cost of an armrest were signing off on billions in engineering and tooling and marketing for predictable duds like the T-Bird encore, the Buick Reatta, the Cadillac Allanté, the Lincoln Blackwood, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Ford passed on the minivan in the early ’80s, having inflicted the Edsel on a yawning America in the ’50s, and declined to pick up Volkswagen for pennies 10 years earlier. GM had to pay Fiat 2 billion bucks just to get out of a deal they’d made to—actually, nobody still knows why, certainly not to help each other produce better cars.

You’d hardly expect the clammy-handed finance guys to whom the shareholders feel most comfy giving the top jobs at car companies to have any product intuition. Yet only your local TV weatherman can equal those armholes in Armanis for getting it wrong. And furthermore—okay, enough’s enough. I know that railing at the corporate emperors for their invisible clothes won’t bring back Saab. And besides, keeping on like this could get me pinched for inciting mob violence. It would almost be worth it. Releasing negative energy is vastly underrated as an effective therapeutic modality. I mean, look at Occupy Wall Street.
 

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Saab died because not enough people bought the cars. Why they didn't buy the cars was because of myriad reasons, but blaming management is only part of the cause. One other significant source of blame not mentioned in the commentary is the competition, and sometimes you lose because of mistakes you made, and sometimes the other guy is just better. Saab is gone for a combination of management, competition, and circumstances (the economic crisis didn't help the struggling brand). When the brand was alive we didn't hear the accolades until it died.
 

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When the brand was alive we didn't hear the accolades until it died.
Not entirely true. If you go to C&D online and search the archives for Saab you will find a number of complimentary articles, along with those not so effusive with praise. For example, C&D named the 9000 to its 10 Best Cars list in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989.
 

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Still doesnt give a valid reason why Saab cant return in the future.

I for one, refuse to believe that the Saab brand is dead. Theres no reason why it cant return, probably as a brand with a whole new outlook and purpose.
 

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I hope Saab does return because I have been driving them since 1972 and still have two. I have owned 8 and walked away from a terrible wreck because they are so safe.
 

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It'll be a SAAB if they keep the features that identify the brand. This, I hope to see in the future..
 

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SAAB is returning: :)

Saab is not only in production in Qong Dong but is now in inventory at dealerships such as www.cheshi.com in China

The first cars produced have a combination of what appear to be familiar parts with interesting and updated styling cues for the old 9-3.

see the slideshow at:

http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&ei=twJeUerRNY-m8gTB-4DoDw&hl=en&prev=/search?q=c71ev&hl=en&rlz=1C1OPRB_enUS519US520&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=zh-CN&u=http://pic.cheshi.com/prdview_big_734039.html&usg=ALkJrhirYAwWo1xLdmf5HoCjtMLhHg5BJw
 

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Oddly on one post it's "half hearted dumbed-down GM junk" yet if you go on the "SS" site, the guys love it. :confused:

The Viggen and Carlsson were "iconic" but yet they were under GM also. Really it was not an inspired car for sure but our 1995 kiddie hauler was the most reliable and long lived of any prior Saab including our three 900 Classics.

When it comes to cars like the Maybach, not only would I not shed a tear, I never even read a review of something that far from my financial reality. Pontiac on the other hand did upset me especially with the line of secret screamers that came out the back door of Royal Oak Pontiac in the 60's. Heck I almost bought the rumored aluminum body GTO (used) in 1970, the one made in 64 that Pontiac denied existed.

Did anyone ever write a song about a Maybach or Saturn? :cheesy:

As much as I loved the handling of my base 1989 9000, it was an electrical nightmare and earned the honor of my "Saab From Hell" though my wife's 2.0 XWD is trying to challenge the 9k for the title.
 

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I hope Saab does return because I have been driving them since 1972 and still have two. I have owned 8 and walked away from a terrible wreck because they are so safe.

It'll be a SAAB if they keep the features that identify the brand. This, I hope to see in the future..
Agreed, with both. My ex sister inlaw and nephew were in a 900 which was totalled, both only had scratches. My mother had a 9000 and slid into a tree going down an ice covered hill, walking away with nothing more than a scratch from the airbag. Still, it took me too long to discover my adoration for them for reasons other than safety, as 2yrs after buying mine came the announcement the brand would no longer be made. Prior to that I had decided I would never buy another brand of vehicle again! I too feel there is a strong possibility of a resurrection but agree, they should keep the features that make Saab unique.
 

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Saab is not only in production in Qong Dong but is now in inventory at dealerships such as www.cheshi.com in China

The first cars produced have a combination of what appear to be familiar parts with interesting and updated styling cues for the old 9-3.

see the slideshow at:

http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&ei=twJeUerRNY-m8gTB-4DoDw&hl=en&prev=/search?q=c71ev&hl=en&rlz=1C1OPRB_enUS519US520&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=zh-CN&u=http://pic.cheshi.com/prdview_big_734039.html&usg=ALkJrhirYAwWo1xLdmf5HoCjtMLhHg5BJw
What 9-3 is that supposed to look like??
 

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Thinking back, my Mom's co-worker she went in with every day; well, I like to paint the picture of my Mom disappearing in a blue haze of oily mist every morning back then. A second read of Kens musings and I got that feeling and suddenly it made sense. John as his family expanded went from the sports cars and with the need for more than two seats, the Saab was a very tidy package a cut above a VW and the heater at least worked.

Why that second read of Kens brought out the obvious I don't know, but I too migrated from a series of MG's and 914's and as I settled down to do "the family thing", the Rally Boy in me put me into a 900.

I can never figure out why I didn't follow the path to the BMW dealer and not surprising my Mom's ride did go for a "C" Beemer.

One thing for certain, though Saab lost this unique niche over time, was the snow handling of the FWD. As a rabid ski junkie, a good way to the hill was a must and this is where BMW lost out. The better snow qualities, short of a Wagoneer (though I did end up with one for a bit), and a heater that worked gave it clear advantage and they were less expensive. I don't have the figures for what a Saab of 1965 cost but a Mercedes 220S was about $50 less than a Chevy Impala. I'll guess that the Saab was slightly more than a VW but a few dollars below a Corvair. That was a car I was really in love with. The turbo Corvair of the 60's with the RWD advantage in the snow.
 

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I am going to be able to buy a new car in about 8 months (or a really nice used SAAB). Would be nice to purchase something right off the dealer lot.
 

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I bought my first Saab in ~ 1979/80- a 99 EMS with Aztec wheels. Paint was a cool metallic green. It stood out in a crowd. I had so much fun in that car, but my friends thought I was crazy paying $10,000 back then

I think the biggest problem was the high price combined with the fact that Saab did not have a full line up to mix it in, so either you ponied up or you bought elsewhere

Later I had a 900 turbo then a 93 sedan, then a 93 Sport-Combi-wagon with v6 (great power but front end heavy). A couple years ago I bought a 95 Linear wagon with tons of options: list priced at $35K+. It is by far the most comfortable Saab I ever owned, partly due to wider seats, which are more accommodating. Too bad the 95 was even more expensive as it would have attracted more american buyers

Even my Merc snob friends comment how comfortable it is

The 93 was already uber $$$ and the 95s were even more...

so I don't see the 93 (if based on the same frame/dimensions) as the answer to gaining market share
 

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I have to wonder what kind of price they are going to be asking for a diesel if that's what it seems like they intend to introduce or how much for a 9-3 electric?

We paid $24k brand new for a 2.0 XWD and when Muller took over they were firm on the sticker prices and the cars just were not worth the money. I really got the impression they had no intent to really sell cars. I am close to someone who was fairly high up and an insider on the prices. He said that GM did not make a killing at the price I paid but a fair "tidy" (obviously not a killing), profit.

I think if NEVS thinks the Europeans are going to get all mushy and sentimental and buy an old design FWD they are mistaken; I think the Euros are far more astute than American buyers and will look at the merits and the price. Here, we look at Mercedes and think pure European luxury and it's a status symbol. I was shocked watching a Mercedes taxi pull up to me in Copenhagen Airport thinking "crap, I can't afford a limo" then getting in to see a plain utility interior, spartan as a police car. Mercedes won't even produce a base model, for export or domestic though they advertise the low price, they want that luxury image. I had money down on the base 190 and then the 320 and they never delivered. The Europeans aren't blinded by sentiment of advertising BS.
 

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Ummmmmmmm, this was stated in the press release as a line calibration, not a pre-production vehicle.

It was also said to be a diesel.

Despite all of the talk about NEVS talks with suppliers some close to the process say this is all being overblown and are not optimistic about any Saab in the future. They also said that if there is a NEVS vehicle produced it won't be for the US market or the Eurpoean market but that Asia will be the target.

I'd like to hear some of the UK crowd weigh in on this since they have the pulse of the European taste for vehicles. Will they embrace a warmed over 9-3? What killed Saab was the lack of any significant design improvement since the genesis of the 900 classic from 1978 to 1994, from the early 80's I could climb in any one and operate it with a blindfold. The 9-3 new gen did a run of 8 years, will the Brits (as one of Saabs bread and butter markets), fork out big dollars for this?
 

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No, they didn't. Preproduction cars are not what he's referring to clearly in this context.
Preproduction cars have been built, yes, but incase you havent noticed, NEVs are gearing up to build cars (for retail) again before the end of the year.
 
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