Saab's Demise for the Car Talk Blog

Anybody want to share some thoughts or maybe a tear or two about the passage of Saab from the earth? Do you have a soft spot for the Swedish carmaker with the key on the floor and the much-invoked aircraft heritage? Any Saab horror or love stories?

While it’s too bad they have to go away, there hasn’t been much ‘Saab’ in their cars for many years. And I’m all in favor of GM withholding technology from Z…Y… Lotus, whoever they are.

GM took a good brand with unique (if quirky) cars and put it homogenous corporate stamp on Saab. Bland and no longer unique cars resulted in lackluster sales. They dropped a bulletproof engine from the mid-eighties for a crudy GM V6 and otherwise cheapened the car while trying to sell it at premium luxury car prices. Now GM finishes the job with veto on transfer of patents.

Before GM owned Saab I was a fan, and owned a couple of great Saab cars. After GM I had a 2000 9-3 as a company car, it wasn’t a good car anymore. Last Saab for me and most of the other Saab fans have gone elsewhere a long time ago for new cars.

GM has owned a part of SAAB since back in the 70s but I agree that GM’s takeover of the SAAB line of cars made them a bit more bland. Before GM even Ford and Triumph had an association with SAAB in regards to their engines.

Maybe one of these days they will be resurrected somehow but my gut feeling is that it won’t happen.

I got my first saab, a '75 turbo, in 1976. I had 5 in a row after that – a '79, an '81, an '84 and a '98. Each one I liked a little bit less than the previous one, until the last one I was pretty much seriously disappointed in. It was such a cool car in the beginning. You’d wave at other Saab drivers in the '70’s, cause we were few and far between. Those cars saved my life more than once, either in avoiding serious collisions or keeping me safe thru them. I’ll miss what they were decades ago, I don’t think I’ll miss what they’ve been recently. It’s a shame they don’t have a chance to recover their old glory.

I once dated a guy because he was rebuilding an old Saab. That, and he could cook. But . . . when I found him stalking me, I, well, I still liked his car. So I married a guy who’s dad had one that ran.

I hate to see any make go away. But it was bound to happen. Getting Saab parts lately has been a real PITB. Lately we have told all Saab customers they will not be scheduled until all parts are in. A couple of customers had to wait about 2 months to have there cars repaired.

Back in the early 80’s I worked with my hunting/fishing buddy. He had a customer out in the shop inspecting the customers Saab. Knowing what my friend would say I walked out into the shop and asked “Whats going on here?” My friend said “This guy is just giving me a Saab story”. The customer just stood there with a puzzled look and scratched his head. ( ;

Uncle, I agree. I owned two SAABs when they were unique with 2 strokes, fwd, fuel injection, aerodynamics, and study bodies in the late 60s and 70s. Every one caught up and passed them especially in reliability. The panache of the SAAB marquis wears thin when it spends lots of time in the shop compared to equally performing cars from just about any other brand. Then GM takes them over and Uncle Turbo’s story begins.

I have a friend that fixed leaky fuel injectors on a Saab with super glue and duct tape! Well, mostly fixed. At least there wasn’t a puddle of fuel anymore.

Sure…my SAAB 96 two stoke seized up at 70 mph on the interstate, 30 miles from the nearest exit in northern Maine.
Later that same year, My SAAB 99 blew a head gasket at 60k. Moral of the story is, if you own two cars, don’t let both of them be SAABs, you will be without transportation at some point in time.

TROLLHATTAN, Sweden (Reuters) - Car maker Saab ran out of room for maneuver on Monday when its Dutch owner filed for bankruptcy, calling time on a nine-month battle to rescue the struggling Swedish marquee.

Saab’s cash problems began in March this year, after 2010 sales fell short of target. It has not made any vehicles since April.

The end of the road for Saab, which has been making cars for more than 60 years, came at the weekend when General Motors again vetoed a plan involving Chinese investor Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile.

Bought a 1969 Saab 99 in 1971. Thought it was a very cool, well built car. Lotsa room, crash worthy,

pretty sporty w/ a 4 speed and a sweet (I thought) little 4 banger. Loved the quirky features incl.
floor mounted ignition switch. Turns out it was the worst car I ever owned. I spent twice what I paid
for the car just in repairs to engine (head gasket), clutch($$$), tranny (more$$$) and various other
let downs. Came to be known as my Saab (read sob) story. NEVER been tempted to spend one cent
on another. Never will apparently. R.I.P. Saab,

And now Saab announced that all new (post GM) Saabs have no (zero, nada) warranty coverage. So don’t buy a leftover!

I’ve had 3 Saabs and they have been good. I currently have a 2010 Saab 9-3 I’ve put 24,000 miles in a year and it has been perfect. The parts shortage won’t last long.

If it’s a ‘GM’ Saab you’re fine, GM is continuing to warranty them. If it’s after that, you now have no warranty coverage.

I don’t understand brotherratt’s multiple problems with the 99 unless someone flogged it before you bought it.
Head gaskets were not a chronic problem and transmission problems are almost unheard of.
Most head gasket failures were due to overheating and clutch problems fell into 2 categories; aggressive driving or slave cylinder failures. The only chronic problem I’m aware of was speedometer head failures.

The engine in those 99s was actually a Triumph motor and the V-4 Sonnetts used a Ford engine, also made in England.

The 2-strokes were kind of fun to drive if you don’t mind people staring at you. The quirky looks, 4 speed on the column, cloud of smoke on hard accleration, and run-amok chainsaw sound was sure to draw attention.

If I remember correctly, those cars also had weird front drum brakes. All 4 shoes were different and there were 4 wheel cylinders, each one also different, and that’s just on the front. The engineers must have gotten bored. :slight_smile:

One way to fail is to build what YOU want to build and disregard styling. The other way is to be Pontiac and Oldsmobile and not be permitted to compete. One other way is to claim to be better and be Saturn, using the same parts as the rest of the company. Some times you cant fool anybody.

Ok… I liked everything about my 99, except the motor. It was quick and fairly economical but went through points so fast, I always carried a spare set with tools in the glove box on any trip out of state. I liked the design for those years and the body was a comparative tank to others. When I got it, the choice for me was between the SAAB, a BMW 2002 and Volvo…and I picked the least reliable. I wanted the 2002, wife wanted Volvo and we compromised. After that fiasco, I let her pick out colors, I picked out the car make.

MSN money had an article on it today. Seems they just didn’t have the volume to cover the fixed costs and couldn’t make it attractive enough to enough people. Plus sounded like they had 18% absenteeism which was a chronic quality problem. Owners were a quirky bunch and got upset when the starter came off the floor like the Model T’s had. My neighbor had a couple in the 70’s and would have nothing else but as an environmental engineer, he was kind of quirky too but nice.

I am always saddened to see a car company go under that really tries something innovative and different. In the early 1960s, I was fascinated by the 2 stroke 3 cylinder Saabs. I was in college at the time and had no car, but a couple students from wealthy families had these Saabs.
It seems to me that cars that were different didn’t survive. I liked the Nash Airflyte that was introduced in 1949. It was truly aerodynamic for its time. Hudson also brought out a great car, in my opinion, in 1948. These Hudsons handled well and won many stock car races. Studebaker was another manufacturer that made cars that were different.
I guess that the general public goes for cars that don’t deviate much from the norm. I did own a 1961 Corvair at one time and later owned a 1965 AMC Pacer. I liked both these cars.