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SAAB not dead
January 26, 2010 12:08 PM   Subscribe

SAAB lives. Today GM reached a deal to sell (previously doomed) Swedish car manufacturer SAAB, not to Koenigsegg, maker of exclusive sports cars, but to Spyker, maker of exclusive sports cars. The fans are rejoicing.
posted by mr.marx (58 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bring back the 900! Best egg-like car evah!
posted by Mister_A at 12:10 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's contingent on funding from European and Swedish governments. Still, I'm hopeful for a supply of spare parts for another five-ten years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Currently making the Twitter rounds:

Saab lives!!!! Who said liberals haven't made any gains?
posted by mazola at 12:15 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Swedish government has agreed to guarantee a €400m loan from the European Investment Bank.
posted by mr.marx at 12:17 PM on January 26, 2010


Freakishly tall people everywhere rejoice!
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2010


(source)
posted by mr.marx at 12:20 PM on January 26, 2010


Putting a car company in the hands of somebody that specializes in distinctive, nonstandard designs that you'll never find off the shelf parts for? It's almost like they're coming home.

The Spyker company website is swamped. You'd expect somebody who can afford to mass-produce automobiles can afford better hosting.
posted by ardgedee at 12:22 PM on January 26, 2010


Does this mean that future Saabs will have the giant vents in the side? Because that would be both awesome and terrifying.

(The Bond villain in me fully believes that these should be able to deploy heat seeking missiles. They just have that look.)
posted by quin at 12:26 PM on January 26, 2010


Judging from the rather bizarro kit car aesthetic of Spyker, I'm not so sure this is a good fit. On the the other hand, GM can't tell their ass from a hole in the ground (aesthetically or otherwise), so it couldn't be much worse.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:27 PM on January 26, 2010


quin: heh
posted by mr.marx at 12:27 PM on January 26, 2010


Oh, great. They sold out to the goddam Dutch.
How long before they make the inevitable switch to wooden brake shoes?
posted by Floydd at 12:29 PM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


It seems like a pretty heavily leveraged deal, with GM smelling a lot sweeter than it could otherwise expect thanks to all the government cash pouring in.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on January 26, 2010


SAAB not dead?? Interesting...that's so unlike the 900S I used to own. Which seemed to always be dead.
posted by spicynuts at 12:33 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Speaking for all the Saab owners on MeFi, I'd just like to say: Does anyone have a spare manual gearbox for a 1993 900i 'Vert? Thanks in advance.
posted by Jofus at 12:43 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I almost bought a Saab when my lease on my Audi came up in 2008. I'd always loved the old Saabs and on the test drive I liked the turbo like the Audi has. The dealer was practically begging me to buy the car. But as I sat there in the seat looking at the instrument panel and the dashboard I noticed the stereo was the exact same as the Chevy Impala I rented the week before. I wondered how much other influence GM had on the car and decided to walk away. So hopefully the new Saab will go be a true original rather than a neglected sub-grand of GM that looked for 'efficiencies' and 'economies of scale' in the brand and less of a re-badged Chevy (in the showroom there was this monstrosity SUV that was really just a GM SUV that was rebadged...born from jets my ass).
posted by birdherder at 12:44 PM on January 26, 2010


So a car company that never made a profit once, buys another car company that never made a lot of profit either, and mostly drew losses. After a world wide credit crunch.

It remains to be a world of make believe.
posted by ijsbrand at 12:46 PM on January 26, 2010


"You can't have sex with a Saab. It's unnatural, and you might get hurt."
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:47 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Spyker, which makes only a few dozen cars a year, agreed to pay GM at least $74 million in cash, according to people familiar with the matter, while the European Investment Bank will provide a €400 million ($566 million) loan guaranteed by the Swedish government.”

Wonder if that might prompt a challenge to the Commission. The Swedish government has tried hard to stay out of this, but it's good to seem them come to their senses. Living and paying taxes in this lovely land, it seems to me that the loss of both Saab and Volvo (basically sold to the Chinese company Greely) would be too much for the government to tolerate.

But it does not seem anything like enough money to develop and launch the new model(s) that Saab desperately needs.
posted by three blind mice at 12:50 PM on January 26, 2010


Saab always seemed like such a strange brand.

It's like the car for contrarian would-be Volvo drivers.

When I think of Saab, I think of slightly nerdy, slightly quirky suburban dads who can give you Reasons why their car is actually beter.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:06 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


What
posted by qvantamon at 1:25 PM on January 26, 2010


doctor_negative -- Have you ever sat in a Spyker? I think their interiors are fantastic -- they have a unique marine-like aesthetic to them.

In other Swedish car brand news: Ford might sell Volvo to Geely for a paltry $1.6B.
posted by spiderskull at 1:44 PM on January 26, 2010


Afroblanco - and architects. They really like their Saabs.
posted by spiderskull at 1:44 PM on January 26, 2010


My first car was a '92 hatchback 900s, and I'm currently driving a '95 convertible 900s. Both of them have been delightful little cars.
I was expecting the NG 900 to feel wrong somehow, but somehow it doesn't. The interior feels right, just like the old 900, and the transverse version of the Saab B engine throws even more power. I step on the gas and that car goes, goes, goes. I can't wait till summer to put the top down.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:18 PM on January 26, 2010


My '95 NG 900 did feel quite wrong and quickly fell apart. That could be because I bought it when it was already 12 years into it's life in the brutal Northeast, though.
posted by mbatch at 2:22 PM on January 26, 2010


spiderskull - I actually kind of like the Spyker weirdness, but it seems at odds with Saab's more subtle, intellectual approach to car design.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:28 PM on January 26, 2010


Makes sense. I'd be very surprised if Spyker actually influenced Saab's designs, though. They've got a design language that a die-hard fanbase holds them to. It would be idiotic for them to ditch it and go all Dutch-quirky on us.
posted by spiderskull at 2:44 PM on January 26, 2010


I love Spyker and I love/hate Saab. I hope that Saab comes out with one good car and refuses to sell more than one model. What on Earth makes car companies think that selling more than one model is a good idea?
posted by The World Famous at 2:47 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I fell in love with friends' Saabs in the mid-to-late 80's, and always wanted one.

I leased a 2008 9-3, and while I really did like it, it did have some low-rent interior appointments that felt very Chevy. The turbo was zippy, though, and the car was very comfortable, and it never let me down in any way. Then again, it was new, and I transferred the lease last April, so I didn't give the car a chance to fall apart.

I hope Spyker does well with Saab. It's a brand that deserves to live and thrive, in my opinion. I want to be able to buy one later... I still love them.
posted by dammitjim at 2:50 PM on January 26, 2010


What on Earth makes car companies think that selling more than one model is a good idea?

When the economy is up and gas prices are down, it's something like this.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:50 PM on January 26, 2010


When the economy is up and gas prices are down, it's something like this .

Sure, that's what they imagine. The reality, though, looks something like Saturn.
posted by The World Famous at 3:05 PM on January 26, 2010


Hopefully Spyker gets it right and re-casts Saab in it's original (and highly preferred) incarnation, a maker of quirky little cars that ran on 3-cylinder, 2-stroke flathead and V-4 overhead valve engines that couldn't be killed. Saab used to be the very best winter car made, got great mileage, and....interesting styling. That's the Saab I remember, and miss.
posted by motown missile at 3:09 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn, another Saab thread and I still haven't bought a black turtleneck. But to rep my Saab cred, I'm still paying off the clutch rebuild that I mentioned in the "previously" thread.
posted by ErikaB at 3:11 PM on January 26, 2010


....interesting styling

Sason died in the late sixties, though.
posted by effbot at 3:39 PM on January 26, 2010


My first car was a '78 Saab 99 GLE. It wouldn't start on anything less than 93 octane (and even then, only when the tank was full) , the sunroof was rusted shut, the front passenger seat was loose, the cabin always smelled of gas and cat piss and anything viewed through anywhere but the dead center of the windshield was wavy. Also, oddly, above 60F or so, the starting problems only worsened as it got warmer.

Damn, I loved that strange little bastard.
posted by The Potate at 3:59 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've always wanted a Saab. Now my dreams are once again possible.
posted by mds35 at 6:44 PM on January 26, 2010


My folks had a series of Saabs in the late 70's. My first experience driving any distance was taking a turn at the chubby little wheel of our Saab on a stretch of empty Montana freeway (much more succesful than my attempts to get our old Jeep station wagon out of the garage). My Dad was a car guy, and I think he found the Saab's eccentricities appealing. That, and it was a great winter car. I don't know if I'll ever own one, but I'm glad they're still going to be around.
posted by gamera at 8:08 PM on January 26, 2010


Personally I'm thrilled to death that the sale happened. I'm one of the guys who drove to a Save Saab convoy and wore out the F5 key on my PC following the late-breaking news and scuttlebutt through the rollercoaster of the sale/no sale/maybe a sale/no sale/hopefully sale/rumor that there's a Spyker car at the Saab museum must be for a press conference/finally a sale.

The first car my wife and I bought together is a '98 900 S and it's fantastic. The 2.3 normally aspirated engine (the S models are non turbo) has plenty of oomph and the gear ratios are perfect. The hatchback lets us haul an enormous amount of crap on those occasions when there's an enormous amount of crap to haul. But it's a small car overall and handles really well. Oh, yeah, and we get a bit over 30mpg on the highway and upper 20's in town.

Even before we got snow tires, this car was crazy good in the snow. With snow tires, I have to remind myself that it's not dry pavement I'm cruising on.

We also bought a '07 9-3 SportCombi in November and love it just as much. Who doesn't love a turbocharged wagon??

It's great to have some variety and diversity in the car industry. I have high hopes for Saab under Spyker ownership. Like I said, I've been following this thing, and Victor Muller is a stand-up guy who appreciates Saab.

Most important of all, this means a LOT of jobs are saved - not just the 3400 people at the plan in Trollhattan, but suppliers, dealers, etc. who can finally breathe easy after a year of not knowing day by day what their future holds.

As many of us Saab geeks have been saying, Griffin UP!
posted by altcountryman at 9:00 PM on January 26, 2010


Does this mean that future Saabs will have the giant vents in the side?

If that is not in the next Bond film, all hope is lost.

I will buy a SAAB that looks exactly like that, new SAAB company owner.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:12 PM on January 26, 2010


Ha! Spykers have a sort of steampunk interior going on. I f'in hate steampunk, but I'll take that over a GM interior, no question.
posted by ryanrs at 9:39 PM on January 26, 2010


Oh man those Spyker cars are so lovely. I'm glad SAAB is still with us. Who doesn't love SAAB? They're quality weirdo mobiles. One time a neighbor with a SAAB asked me to move it while he was on vacation (NYC, alternate street parking) and wow, fuck me if I could get the fucker to go in reverse. I couldn't. So I put the bastard in neutral and pushed it back when I needed to go in reverse. I'm sure one or a few of my neighbors laughed their asses of at that display, but dammit I was gonna parallel park that car even if I had to push in reverse all over the fuckin' street.

I later found out about that frigin' collar SAABS have on the stick shift....sneaky damn Swedes.
posted by Skygazer at 11:46 PM on January 26, 2010


Fuck, man. For a second there I thought they were resurrecting Space: Above & Beyond :(
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:01 AM on January 27, 2010


To put it in reverse pull up on the ring under the shifter and slide it into the reverse position, which is directly down from 5th gear.

Believe it or not people call us here at saab customer assistance to ask that all the time. They also want us to pay for all sorts of things. Also i was suprised how much the warranty sucks on saabs considering the fact that it was one of gm's luxury lines.

I hope spyker has their own fucking call center.
posted by djduckie at 6:14 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was getting tires put on at VIP Auto, the guys there couldn't figure out how to back my car out of the garage.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:36 AM on January 27, 2010


My first car was a 79 Saab 99. By the time I got it, the floors were rusted out (from Michigan's winter salted roads) and in the winter the driver door would freeze open. I fiberglassed the floors, and used a bungie cord to hold the driver door shut. I hooked it across my lap and the passenger seat to the other door. I drove it several winters this way and no ice or snow storm could stop this early front-wheel drive wonder.

When the horn stopped working, I pulled the wiring out of the steering column and stuck a Radio Shack momentary switch on the center column next to my right knee. I had a great time honking the horn "magically" with no hands. One day I discovered that I could swivel the powerful windshield wiper fluid squirters around 180 degrees. So when people walked in front of my car, say, in the high school parking lot, I could pull the indicator lever and drench them! It was like my own Batmobile.

The car had a tiny little trunk, but the back seats folded flat creating a continuous space for storage from the dash to the very back of the car. I could pull up at a gig, open the trunk, and pull out an entire upright bass. It was like a clown car. The flattened seats were also great for the drive-in movie revival that happened in my town right about when I got my first girlfriend. I'd back into the spot, rears wheels up on the hump of dirt, angle the front seats forward, and we rest against them stretched out the back, with our feet in the trunk, watching the movie out the rear window.

Of course the cache of having the floor-mounted ignition switch was excellent, but there were so many more reasons why I had the coolest car in school.

I hope Spyker completely throws away the GM-era designs and returns the car to its former quirky, awesome glory.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 8:32 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I loved my mid-80s Saab 900S. It was my first car after college, bought for $2000. It was a blast to drive and it was great even though a lot of it didn't work. Between the backwards engine, the ignition key placement, the reverse shift thing, and several other quirks, it was just confusing enough to non-Sabb folks to be perfectly quirky. It was easy to figure out that a mechanic would not do a good job on it - just watch for the look of confusion when he's trying to figure out why the engine is upside down and backwards. Of course, a lot of mechanics didn't even get that far, since they couldn't figure out how the hood worked (it popped up, rolled forward on little rollers, and then tilted backwards over the front bumper). The day I got rid of it, I made myself two promises: 1) I would never regret having owned it; and 2) I would never buy another Saab.
posted by The World Famous at 10:13 AM on January 27, 2010


"I hope that Saab comes out with one good car and refuses to sell more than one model. What on Earth makes car companies think that selling more than one model is a good idea?"

Car segments are cyclic and fad/fashion driven. Car companies are very capital intensive enterprises. You've got to keep that capital working to keep the capital costs per car competitive. So if you make, for example, two seater sport cars and the market for that car flatlines you better be prepared with a model that does sell, say an SUV. It's what made Porsche the fastest growing Truck company for several years. Best thing is to have several models in diverse market segments in continuous production so that when a paradigm shift occurs, say an energy crisis or embargo, a competitor who only or principally make cars for the new desired market segment doesn't end up eating your lunch.

Also people are strangely brand loyal to automobiles. A great many people have only or principally driven only a single brand of automobiles. Often the brand their parents drive. Not allowing people to progress up a market segment ladder essentially forces them into the hands of your competitor, often permanently. So if you only make a quirky turbo sedan/wagon and your customers find themselves needing a minivan you not only lose those customers to minivan manufacturers you might also never get them back (or their children) when they are in the market for a quirky sedan if the minivan manufacturer also offers a sedan/wagon.

"To put it in reverse pull up on the ring under the shifter and slide it into the reverse position, which is directly down from 5th gear. "Believe it or not people call us here at saab customer assistance to ask that all the time."

I'm surprised so many people have trouble with this; it's not like it's all that rare or even confined to Saabs. Heck Dodge minivans with 5spds used this lock out method; it doesn't get much more pedestrian than that.
posted by Mitheral at 2:41 PM on January 27, 2010


So if you make, for example, two seater sport cars and the market for that car flatlines you better be prepared with a model that does sell, say an SUV.

Um, Ferrari?
posted by The World Famous at 2:53 PM on January 27, 2010


And let me add to that last comment:

Saturn.
posted by The World Famous at 2:55 PM on January 27, 2010


If/when the high end sports car market tanks, us normal consumers will be too busy being holed up in our basements or out in the streets fighting over expired canned meat to notice.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:55 PM on January 27, 2010


"Um, Ferrari?"

I was thinking more MG or really any Miata like car in the late 80s, early 90s. There is still a dearth of small, light weight, low cost, two seater sports cars.

But examples of would have been nasty all to have all your eggs in one basket abound. If you were a Car Manufacturer CEO how'd you like your only model to be a full size station wagon? In 1973? 1988? Or a light truck in 2008? The Corvair in 1965? The Explorer in 1995? One of the reasons we had the Big Three is the small single model manufacturers couldn't compete with larger vertically integrated companies. Too much capital chasing too little profit.
posted by Mitheral at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2010


I was thinking more MG or really any Miata like car in the late 80s, early 90s.

The late 80s - early 90s is when the Miata debuted and singlehandedly revived the previously-dead market for open-top two-seater roadsters.

By then, MG was part of British Leyland and it's problem was not that it was a roadster, but that it was crap.

If you're an auto company, you have to do more than just pick a model and stick with it, obviously.

One of the reasons we had the Big Three is the small single model manufacturers couldn't compete with larger vertically integrated companies.

Small single-model manufacturers compete incredibly well with larger vertically-integrated companies. They sell fewer cars and remain smaller companies, but they are more likely to turn a profit. It's when they're integrated into a big company, like

When Saturn was a small single-model division of GM, it turned a profit. Its earnings declined each time they added a model.

If General Motors had half a brain shared between its directors, Chevrolet would make one family sedan, Corvette would still exist, Pontiac would make one GT car, GMC would make one pickup truck and one SUV, Cadillac would make one big luxury car, and Buick would make, I don't know, a minivan, maybe? And Saturn would still exist, selling a modern version of the one car that ever made Saturn a dime: A well-built, compact, economy car.

There are two huge rules that car manufacturers should have tattooed in reverse on their foreheads, because virtually none of them consistently remember them:

1. Don't compete against yourself.

2. Don't expect repeat customers if you sell them a pile of crap the first time.
posted by The World Famous at 9:39 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Woah, sentence fragment. Sorry about that.
posted by The World Famous at 9:40 AM on January 28, 2010


nonmyopicdave: Of course the cache of having the floor-mounted ignition switch was excellent, but there were so many more reasons why I had the coolest car in school.

I have this hunch that really good engineering allows and encourages that sort of eccentric ingenuity and fun and thriftiness. It makes something feel like such a part of you and, yeah, it is like having your own version of the Batmobile.

Bad design on the other hand does not have redundancy or allow modification and any one part in the systel screws up you have no choice but to get the same exact part and hope it all links up again and any modification haunts you forever.
posted by Skygazer at 12:16 PM on January 28, 2010


Anyhow, I don't know how that element can be measured. I guess it's anecdotally as you just did there. Should be a site for that.
posted by Skygazer at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2010


Heck Dodge minivans with 5spds used this lock out method;

Who the hell would want to drive a Dodge minivan anyway??
posted by Skygazer at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2010


Who the hell would want to drive a Dodge minivan anyway??

Minivans: awkwardly tall people with more than two kids in car seats who don't need the SUV penis substitute factor?

Dodge: employee discount?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:33 AM on January 29, 2010


Some are impressive Q-Ships.
posted by Mitheral at 4:37 AM on January 29, 2010


I would drive a Q-Ship and out fit it with and aileron and small rocket engines and maybe some sidewinder missiles. That reminds me, I love the latest Saab slogan Born From Jets and I think I may call my forthcoming memoir that:

Born From Jets : A boy's story of his addiction to Jet porn.

Look for it at fine bookstores near you.
posted by Skygazer at 11:09 PM on February 1, 2010


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