Don't buy a Saab

They’re dead. GM announced yesterday that the only prospective buyer, Spyker of the Netherlands, pulled out of negotiations. They did not say when they will cease production. Beijing Autos said that they are interested in buying technology from Saab, but will presumably use it in their own factories.

Apart from the AWD system in the 9-3, everything should be serviceable at other GM dealers.

No telling where you’d need to go for help with your AWD if those places can’t help you, since no one else uses it yet.

While I truely feel sorry for SAAB owners, there comes a time in every company’s life when it must be let die in peace. SAAB’s time has come.

I wouldn’t worry about too many people buying one. I just read an article saying only a little over three hundred were sold last month in the entire country.

This is sad, and I don’t feel a bit sorry for the GM exec’s that just got shown the door to leave GM. More of the same that happened to Saab, Saturn, and Olds just can’t be allowed anymore. GM killed the Olds brand because the cars were simply clones of other GM cars.

Then the GM brains started Saturn to be a “Different Kind of Car Company”. After a decent start the GM brains meddled into Saturn and guess what in 10 years the Saturn cars are now clones of other GM cars.

Then GM buys Saab. A brand I’ve followed since the late '60’s. Saab cars were indeed different, quirky, but solid and reliable too. When GM bought Saab they got a wonderful 4 cylinder turbocharged motor that was powerful, bulletproof, lasted a long time, was compact, with lots of torque. It would have made a super base engine for GM to use in a whole line of small to mid-size efficient and fun cars.

What does GM do, it spends virtually no money on continued refinement of a great 4 cylinder motor and starts putting GM V6’s in every Saab model it can. Of course, Saab must have an SUV - every GM brand had to have and SUV. So the GM standard SUV gets a Saab nameplate and they move the ignition key to the center stack. Now it’s a Saab. Not even close.

GM could have provided greater financial backing to Saab and increased research and development budgets allowing Saab engineers and designers build even better cars. But that thinking was too different from the GM culture. So Saab cars got homogenized into another GM mobile and the resulting cars lost character, build quality, and as a result the brand is no longer strong enough to attract buyer. Way to go GM, buy 'em and kill 'em. Now that’s a great business model.

Yup. There is no question that GM’s inept management killed Saab little by little over a period of several years.

Unfortunately, it is time for the marque to go, and I say that reluctantly since I lusted after the Saab 96 model when I was a kid. (Yes, I was a strange kid.)

Uncle T, your is an excellent description of the type of decision making that caused GM to go belly-up ------ saved artificially with e transfusion of cash from the public coffers.

You’ll note that in my mind they flatlined and were brought back to life. They went beyond simply struggling, the bottom truely dropped out. June 1, 2009 GM’s stocks closed at $.89 a share. They went down to $.27 a share that day.

I hope the future is done differently from the past. I hope we get to sell our 61% of GM for at least what we paid. I’m personally not optimistic.

[b]Uncle T. GM killed off Olds because Olds were “clones” of other GM cars? Where did you get that information? Which ones were the clones? Except for Olds no other GM brands were built to World Class standards. The real reason GM killed off Oldsmobile is that the quality was too high for Roger Smith’s (may he reside forever in Hell) low standards. Oldsmobiles were highly reliable, especially the ones built from 1999 on to it’s euthenized demise in 2004. Olds was highly innovative for all the brand’s life:

1st to mass produce cars-1901,
reintroduced FW drive in '66,
1st Am car to offer air bags - '74 Toronado,
1st fully auto trans - 1938,
1st along with Cadillac to offer high compression OH V-8 -1949,
1st car to offer turbo-charged V-8 - 1962,
Olds 1988 Cutlass Supreme 1st to offer HUD,
and there are other Olds innovations,

and many car companies copied Olds’ innovations. Additionally, Saturn came into being long before Olds was ended, to be sure.[/b]

The two SAABs I had 96 and 99 were well ahead of their time in many ways. I agree that subsequent ownership just used the name plate as a temporary profit gimmick. Saabs with Subaru running gear and re-badged Chevy SUVs embarrassed a lot loyal owners right out of the market. All to make a buck but cheapen the brand. That’s the name of the game. Give it some time…the name will be back.

I am suprised the Swedish government kept a “hands off” approach.

All the GM brands had some first, port holes for Buick, and headlight dimmers for Caddy, etc. Unfortunately by the late '90’s GM cars were sharing so many parts, bodies, motors, and transmissions that they became virtual clones. The Olds Cutlass, Buick Century, and Pontiac 6000 are good examples.

I had a 1977 Olds Cutlass S 2 door that was one of the best cars I’ve owned. The 350 had a 4 brl carb and the car went like blazes and handled pretty well too. It made a '75 Ford Torino Grand whatever a piece of junk compared to the '77 Cutlass. I was sad to see Olds bite the dust too. I like Olds and Pontiac as the best of GM’s offerings over the years.

"Except for Olds no other GM brands were built to World Class standards.

That is a nice fantasy, but unfortunately it does not square with reality.

While GM cars had shared many parts ever since the '40s, by the '70s there was so much sharing of parts and manufacturing facilities that the differences between…let’s say…a Pontiac Bonneville, an Olds 88, and a Buick LeSabre came down to body parts, the dashboard, and the relative softness of the suspension. By the late '70s, the full size Olds models were using a Chevy engine, thus destroying any semblance of the marque’s earlier aura of exclusivity.

On several occasions in the early '80s, I took student groups for a tour of a nearby GM assembly plant. There, they were able to see full-size Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, and Buicks coming down the same assembly line. We were all treated to the sight of the “world-class” process for aligning hoods and trunk lids with fenders. What was this “world class” craftsmanship like? Let’s say that hood of an Olds (or its clone Pontiac or Buick assemblyline mates) is low on one side. You just take a hammer handle and repeatedly SLAM the hood on that hammer handle until you have bent the hood to the point where it aligns properly with the adjacent fender. Now that’s world class!

I will grant you that the suspension components chosen for Oldsmobiles may well have produced slightly better handling than the suspension components chosen for their Buick clones. The mufflers placed on Oldsmobiles may have produced more pleasing sounds than the louder mufflers placed on their Pontiac clones. Someone’s personal preferences may have preferred the design of an Olds dashboard or an Olds upholstery pattern to the dashboards or the upholstery of its mechanically identical Pontiac or Buick clones.

However, if you were to blindfold a mechanic and then turn him loose under the hood or under the chassis of any of these cars any time after the late '70s he would have been unable to tell you whether he was working on an Olds, a Pontiac, or a Buick. These were mechanically identical cars, made on the same assemblyline, to the same standards–be that a high standard or a low one.

In their attempts to reduce development and manufacturing costs, GM’s hierarchy decided to produce cars that were identical in every significant sense. I am not saying that this was a bad thing necessarily, but it did destroy any real differences between marques–except for cosmetic ones.

I’m sorry to have to point this out, but to believe that an Olds (anytime after the '70s) was built to “world class standards” when their assemblyline mates/clones were not, is merely a romantic fantasy that is not accurate.

they probably seen where it was headed when they sold it and went “Hey, um, yeah. I got an appointment at 8:30. Gotta go, bye”

Even socialist governments cannot send good money after bad! There are many world leading companies in Sweden, but the car divisions of Volvo and Saab were not going to make it.

Saab Scania survives as a heavy duty truck maker and Volvo Trucks and construction equipement is sold the world over.

Oldsmobile became a cross between a Buick and Pontiac. There wasn’t enough differentiation between the Olds and Buick or Olds and Pontiac for so long that they had to choose two. The Olds Intrigue was similar to the Regal and Grand Prix, but used a different engine and suspension. It was a nice car, but too late and too little to save Olds. And now there isn’t room for Pontiac between Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick. I’m sure that the Vibe will become a Chevy, and the G8 may live on as a Chevy. In any case, it will continue as a Holden, Vauhall, and Chevy (overseas).

Letting GM play the heavy while the Swedish government chides them for letting the employees down seems like the best of both worlds for the Swedish government. They can blame a big, bad capitalist company for doing the dirty work while getting the advantages of losing an Albatross.

Cynical JT wrote that, BTW.

Sixty years ago, you really had choices among the newly introduced 1950 models:

Overhead valve 6 cylinder engine: Chevrolet
Flathead 6 cylinder or 8 cylinder engine: Pontiac
Flathead 6 cylinder or overhead valve v-8: Oldsmobile
Overhead valve inline 8: Buick
Overhead valve V-8: Cadillac

In the transmission line you could choose the following

4 speed automatic with a fluid coupling (no torque multiplication): Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Cadillac

Torque converter with no shifts: Chevrolet, Buick

open drive shaft: Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Cadillac

closed driveshaft: Chevrolet, Buick

Rear leaf springs: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Cadillac
Rear coil springs: Buick

I could go on about the differences in the 1950 lineup, but I think you see that the cars were all different. GM should have studk with this. Proctor and Gamble does just fine. If you don’t like Proctor and Gamble Tide detergent, you can buy Oxydol also made by P & G.

“GM should have studk with this. Proctor and Gamble does just fine. If you don’t like Proctor and Gamble Tide detergent, you can buy Oxydol also made by P & G.”

P&G can afford to differentiate like that because the cost to change their production line to a different product is not very large. It’s much different with auto manufacturing. The cost for body stamping dies, forging presses, and foundry dies are much higher than the cost of equipment changes for P&G. All a soap company often has to do is just start pumping a different batch of product through the same piping to the same fillers. They just change the packaging with a little loss of product until the new batch flows unmixed.

GM had only 3 body types back then. The A body was for the Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Oldmobile 76 and 88. The B body was used for the smaller Buicks and the Oldmobile 98. The C body was used on the Buick Roadmaster and Cadillac. The cars looked different, but much of the bodywork was the same. The cars were enough different, though, so that each make attracted a different clientele. The competition among the divisions was healthy. When the product lines were different in the 1950’s and 1960’s, GM had about 50% of the market and GM stock was high. When the GM makes were only different in nameplate, GM’s share of the market slipped and its stock eventually became worthless.

Losing the quirky Saab is like losing that crazy uncle that made you laugh for years. He may have been odd, but you liked knowing he was around.