A Brief history of Saab
Saab began life in 1937, first known as Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget the name was shortened to the acronym that is still used today. Originally a manufacturer of planes for the Swedish Air Force, Saab quickly realised that following the end of the Second World War their market would go into a severe decline, so after much consideration the company decided to make a move into the automotive market and in 1949 launched the Saab 92, powered by a two cylinder, two stroke engine, it was an incredible design at the time of its launch. The 92 utilised aerodynamic skills the company had gained from their production of aircraft and had an incredibly low drag coefficiant of only 0.3, when put into context this figure looks even more incredible, itís the same as a Porsche 996 (1998) and even better than a Ferarri F40 (1987). Two specifications were offered, the Standard and the Deluxe, the Deluxe proved so popular over its sibling they never manufactured any of the Standard models. All early 92ís were painted in a green colour, very similar to British Racing Green and it was rumoured that they were this colour because the parent company had a large surplus of paint from its plane manufacturing.
Over the following years, the 92 was improved upon, the design reworked and in 1955 the 93 was launched, followed four years later by the 95, an estate that would be in production for the next two decades. The fifties also saw the launch of the 94, also known as the Sonett, a two seater sports car.
The Sixties saw the launch of the 96, a car that would stay in production for twenty years and go on to sell over 540,000 units. A new Sonett also came into production, the Sonett II or Saab 97, was a two seater sports car with a full glass fibre body. The biggest innovation though was the introduction of the Saab 99, a model that would showcase Saabís innovations in the early seventies, Headlight cleaning, heated seats, side impact beams and self repairing bumpers were all added to the 99 in the early seventies.
The 99 was further developed through the seventies, with the introduction of the Combi Coupe, a hatchback with a fold down rear seat and large tailgate giving much more flexibility, the major innovation of the seventies however was the launch of the 99 Turbo, for the first time in a passenger car, Saab had developed a turbocharged engine that was suitable for everyday use. Towards the end of the decade the 900 also made its first appearance and was quickly followed by the 900 Turbo in 1980.
If the introduction of the Turbo engine was not enough, Saab made another technical leap in 1983 with the launch of the 900 Turbo 16 S, the first car in the world with a sixteen valve turbocharged engine. This was swiftly followed in 1984 by the 9000 Turbo, a vehicle that moved Saab into the large car segment. The 9000 CD would be the final car to be produced by Saab as an independent company in 1988, as they had begun to struggle financially in 1987, despite producing their two millionth car financial woes made Saab seek a partner to cut costs and in 1990 GM purchased fifty percent of Saab for $600 million with an option to purchase the remainder within a decade.
A relaunch of an all new 900 in 1993, based on the same platform as the Vauxhall Vectra, had given Saab a profit for the first time in seven years by 1995 and in the year 2000 GM took up the option to purchase the remainder of Saabís shares and the company then became a wholly owned subsidiary of GM from then on. Other models followed with the launch of the 9 - 5 in 1997 and the 9 - 3 a year later. The 9 - 5 estate made its debut in 1999.
Saab has continued to add to its line up and the launch of the 9 - 3 Convertible in 2003 has boosted sales further, indeed the 9 Ė 3 Convertible has proved to be the manufacturers most desirable model with its sense of style and build quality.
As to the future, a new Crossover SUV is in the pipeline, the 9 - 4 X, Biopower and a state of the art all wheel drive system show that Saab are continuing to push the boundaries in automotive technology.