Why we should pay our respects to Saab

64 years have come to an end for the Swedish automaker Saab (Svenska Aeroplan Aktie Bologet). It’s been a long, tiresome and dramatic battle for survival, but it’s pretty much official now. Chinese investors tried to take over the company, but GM (who owned the brand) refused to license Saab’s technology to competitors in such a key market for them.

There are many reasons why loyalists felt so strongly about rescuing Saab a few years back. Swedish design always had safety at the forefront, and Saab was an innovator on so many levels. The manufacturer was the first to have factory-fitted safety belts in their cars, as early as 1958.

Then came the idea of positioning the ignition lock (above) between the front seats in 1969. Why would they do that? In accidents, there was a recurring issue with the ignition key causing severe knee injuries. It also seemed like the logical thing to do, since it was in a focused area with the seat belt lock, handbrake and gear lever.

The 70s also saw some great ideas become a reality. Headlights washers and wipers, electrically heated seats, side impact protection, and collapsible steering columns, to name a few.

The 80s and 90s witnessed the births of innovations such as ventilated seats, the split-field side mirror, light pressure turbocharging, smart-design safe-seats providing maximum protection and preventing whiplash. Last but not least, the creation of the night panel – a function which blacked out the instrument panel, apart from the speedometer, reducing the risk of distraction while driving at night. Whenever something required a driver’s attention, the appropriate gauge lit up – a concept learnt from their aircraft heritage.

And these are some of the reasons why we need to pay our respects to Saab. The automaker came and left its imprint on the industry forever… it will be missed. Click here to read more on other Saab innovations.

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6 Comments on “Why we should pay our respects to Saab”

  1. Sparkous Says:

    A swedish lady ( family friend ) gave me her Saab 9000 for me to try to sell summer of 2004 and the car was a mid 90’s model. The car was very well maintained but not cosmetic, car needed a paint job, tires, and few bits and bobs. Make a long story short, i fell in love with that 4 banger ended up keeping it for myself, it was a daily driver for me ! i used it until transmission gave up 3 or 4 years later and parts were more expensive than what the car was worth, i ended giving it away to a Saab specailist who managed to squeeze a few more miles outta it. That car truly was a one of a kind, comfort – visability, headroom, spacious cargo. Handling – front wheel drive ( torque steer ), very nimble for a saloon, and lovely suspension.

  2. Tariq Says:

    Our family has had many Saabs over the years. I agree that they do not look sexy or refined at first but they grow on you. I had an old one in high school and I loved it. It brought a joy to my face to drive it. It didn’t turn heads like a sports car or luxury car but it had it’s own crizma. I liked that it was unique. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. The turbo was a plesure to kick down, begging for more. It was safe and agile. The cockpit was a well layed out set of panels and lights. Had some really great times in Saabs. It a sad day. My full respect to them.

  3. el wehbi Says:

    Thanks for sharing guys!

    Saab is one of those brands that holds a special place within many car lovers hearts. From the very first time I placed the key in the ignition between the seats, staring endlessly at the turbo gauge, I fell in love. Kind of wish I owned one now… sad to see it go.

    Someone… anyone… save Saab!

  4. Marzouq Says:

    Its sad to see a company such as them go down this line but it seemed inevitable, they never made cars people wanted or I would say a majority of people wanted!

    They sort of choked to death at the end because they depended on GM so much!

  5. Mathai Says:

    I’ve a desire to own a Saab 9-5 sometime in the future. Its a gentleman’s car or rather an engineer’s car and is built for a purpose.

  6. el wehbi Says:

    @Marzouq: I think GM really took the life out of Saab. Like you said, they stopped producing cars people wanted, due to the fact that they had to unify and share with GM’s platforms, mechanicals, parts bin, etc. Terrible really as the brand had so much character before the “General” took over.

    @Mathai: You said it perfectly: “an engineer’s car built for a purpose”. The Swedes always apply logic to their designs, and with the Saab, it was no different. Hope you find a good condition example of the 9-5.

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