Saab Is Dead

The final attempt to sell money-losing-jet-car-maker Saab has failed, says GM. The brand will be discontinued, which makes the country of Sweden really sad.

From Bloomberg:

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time,” GM Europe President Nick Reilly said in the statement. “In order to maintain operations, Saab needed a quick resolution.”

Saab’s closing will be “an orderly winddown,” he said, and “not a bankruptcy or forced liquidation process.”

Saab will continue to honor warranties and provide service and spare parts according to GM.

GM to Close Saab After Ending Sale Talks With Spyker (Update2) [Bloomberg]

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  1. AlexTNOA says:

    That sure is a Saab story.

  2. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Saab is a weird one. They had a mildly cultish following for their quirkily designed cars, but my impression was that they employed sophisticated engineering and good quality – although they were pricey.

    Apparently, they produced a 2-stroke car at some point in their history, which is enough for me to regret their passing.

    But GM royally effed up the brand…the brand existed because of the cultish following of it’s wonky cars – so GM goes and makes them stop that and instead use the Chevy Blazer platform? Yeah…that makes sense.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      That was an SUV that I doubt SAAB would have otherwise produced. Their sedans remained fairly quirky.

    • ARP says:

      I think you’re off on the platform, but I agree with your summary. They took well designed cars and added their magic GM touch. This ruined them, but they still tried to command the same price premium as when they had a good reputation. Heck, SAAB was competing with low level BMW’s and Volvo for a while, until GM forced them to use some GM technology, platforms, cost-cutting measures, etc.

      RIP SAAB, you will be missed.

      • Chmeeee says:

        While they did lose a lot of the quirkiness under GM, GM certainly didn’t ruin them. They got exponentially better in terms of reliability over the 15 years of GM ownership (old Saabs were notoriously unreliable. Cool, but unreliable.) If GM hadn’t bought them in the mid 90s, I almost guarantee you they would have gone out of business then.

    • perruptor says:

      Not just a 2-stroke, but a 3-cylinder 2-stroke. It had a freewheeling feature that let you coast with no engine load, and that was later outlawed in the US. Since it was a light car with front-drive, you could put it in reverse and do wheelies. Like most 2-strokes of the era, it smoked like the Marlboro Man and had a really cheezy “ring-ding-ding” exhaust note.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        I love the smell of 2-stroke fumes in the morning. Smells like…castor oil.

        • perruptor says:

          Ah, yes – Castrol. No four-stroke ever smelled that good.
          My Bultacos would run backwards. They were so light, you could bump-start them easily. It was like having a reverse gear.

  3. OletheaEurystheus says:

    “which makes the country of Sweden really sad.”

    Not really, they didnt want to buy her back in the first place, as Saab the aircraft manufacturing company (which was the true crowning achievement) is still owned by the Swedes and still ticking.

    Im still pissed about Saturn though. If ever a company deserved to remain it was Saturn. not Buick who just got all of Saturns cars anyway. Not to mention both had about the same marketshare and sales before GM said they were closing Saturn. Granted I know the dealer network had a lot more to do with its demise, but it was still in a better position to spin themselves as a upscale brand with the Astra Aura and Vue, than Buick is to spin themselves as a “hip” brand.

    • AllanG54 says:

      GM kept Buick because it’s the biggest selling brand in China and they outsell the U.S. about five to one.

      • jamar0303 says:

        Exactly. They pwn the minivan (yes, there’s a minivan that they apparently only make for China that is THE minivan to have here; the Honda Odyssey is a rather distant second) market here and have managed to steal a good chunk of the full-size/compact sedan market from Volkswagen. They can’t toss this brand just as it’s gaining momentum. Heck, they started selling the Park Avenue here after discontinuing it in America.

        • OletheaEurystheus says:

          as I pointed out, Buick in China is not the US Buick. Different CEO different cars. It just uses the Buick name.

          • The_Legend says:

            Yes, but there are 1.3 bil people in China for brand recognition. And possibly a Wal-Mart-esqe way to start shipping the cars back to the US. Oh, we are unemployed and working our asses off for what little we make when we have a job. Sure, we can buy a Buick.

            • OletheaEurystheus says:

              not sure what that has to do with the fact that Buick in the US is not the same Buick as the one in China.

              Im pointing out a simple fact, that its NOT the same company just its under the GM brand and closing the one would have no effect on the other.

              • jamar0303 says:

                Potential sales. So some Chinese bigwig has been transferred to America (this is going to happen more as more Chinese companies set up US/North America divisions in the US). What’s going to be the first brand he thinks of when he wants a car? Buick. They want to take advantage of that. I would have thought long ago that they weren’t really thinking of the locals anymore.

      • OletheaEurystheus says:

        I realize this, but its a bullshit answer from GM. Buick China is NOT Buick US. Its not the same company nor does it even have many of the same cars. They could have killed Buick in the US and still kept the brand in China, as it shared NOTHING with the US brand other than cars (kinda like how Opels cars were all brought over to Saturn, but Saturn was not Opel)

        The real reason they did it was because the dealer contracts for Saturn were much better for the dealers than Buicks, not to mention GM forced Buick dealers to also sell Pontiacs and GMCs back in the late 80′s. It was easier on GMs part to kill Independent dealers which was what Saturn mostly had then it was to kill dealer contracts for Buick when those dealers still had GMCs to sell, plus it helped shrink the dealer network as well as get rid of dealer contracts that were actually decent toward dealers.

        Understandable business movie for short term profit? Yes. Did it serve to kill off a whole slew of customers who said they will never buy American again? Yep if many polls are to be believed including internal GM polls. On the otherhand Buick owners said they would just choose Chevy or Cadillac.

        So while it made short term sense to kill it, its very likely it may bite back in the fact that even if GM puts out decent Japanese killing cars, which they have a few contenders that might just do that like the new Regal, they will never get back the thousands of customers they alienated by killing Saturn.

        • dorianh49 says:

          I believe you. My wife and I have had Saturns since late 2001. Great cars; hers has over 130K miles, and I’m approaching 90K. We’re in the market for a new car, and we’re going Honda Civic Hybrid.

        • jamar0303 says:

          “They could have killed Buick in the US and still kept the brand in China”
          I should point out the issue in this statement. There’s already one GM brand that is China-only. They produce bargain-basement small-ish vans that make a Pinto look safe by comparison. People will start worrying if the brand is killed in America while still used in China by association.

  4. chucklebuck says:

    Born from jets, died from debts

  5. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    Back in the ’90s, I drove a Saab. It is still my favorite out of all the cars I’ve owned.

    Rest in Pease, Saab. I’ll miss you.

    • akalish says:

      Me too. Love those boxy shapes! And seat warmers before any nice brands of cars had them in America! I miss the brand already. When I have the money for it again, I’d love to buy another from the early 90′s…

  6. Anachronism says:

    That sucks. Imagine if GM had bought BMW in its heyday and then a few years later killed it. I bet it would spark WW#.

  7. pixelninja says:

    My wife’s 9-3 Aero is like a really hot girlfriend. It looks awesome and is lots of fun to drive, but the constant high maintenance is killing me. Our lease is up in Feb and I can’t wait to kick it to the curb.

  8. vladthepaler says:

    So GM bought half of Saab in 1990, took full ownership in 2000, and killed it just before 2010. Sounds like buying Saab was a serious blunder on GM’s part. I hope they’re looking at what they did wrong. But I fear that’s unlikely.

  9. eirrom says:

    I have a 1999 95 sedan and I love it. It has 198k and it runs good. Only downfall is when something breaks, the parts are crazy expensive. I hope to run it right into the ground, but can’t imagine how expensive parts will be now that they have made this announcement.

  10. Me - now with more humidity says:

    I hate this. I’ve had two Saabs and loved them both. I was considering another. Thanks a lot for killing it off, GM.

  11. Acolyte says:

    What are the employees saabosed to do now?

  12. PanCake BuTT says:

    I’ve always loved Saab’s styling ! It was unique, & you know they were well made. So you got what you paid for !

    Can’t those dancin’ fools from yesterday to anything about this ? We could put all 4 of them on a plane to Sweden and have them design and build limited edition Saab’s. Damn you GM! Who’s running that place, a bunch of baboons ?

  13. The_Legend says:

    I remember the old Saab of yesteryear. The two stroke engine, aircraft styling, quirky was an understatement. Then they grew up and made some fine cars, still had a little quirkiness in them. Then GM screwed them, threw a Subaru rebadge in just for kicks, and made another clone GM ride. Don’t worry about the Saab workers, especially the larger models and the SUV. They were GM knockoffs made in the US. Just like Isuzu’s last years.

  14. bdgbill says:

    This is sad. Saab had a great reputation in New England where I grew up. My girlfriends father had one. He once asked me to move it out of the driveway and I had to sheepishly come back and tell him I couldn’t find the ignition. It was on the floor between the two bucket seats.

    • Scrutinizer says:

      All of the quirkiness like the key in the center is a result of the cars being designed by aircraft engineers. At the time safety wasn’t considered a selling point so it was never advertised but a center key lets anyone in the car kill the engine after an accident.

      I had a SAAB (it was an acronym back then) 97, also know as a Sonett II.

      • ktetch says:

        It was also a lot harder for it to be ‘barreled’ (having the steering column smashed off, and the ignition barrel ripped open, allowing the car to be easily started). Oh, and it was one less thing to mess around with when switching between LHD and RHD. And If I remember right, you couldn’t put the key in/out without having the handbrake applied.

        Course, I never owned one myself, but my dad had a Y-reg (’82) saab 900 in the early/mid 90s back in the UK (wasn’t a turbo) Didn’t have any major issues that I remember.

  15. treimel says:

    The real point, from the AP story:

    “GM said there would be no change in a plan announced earlier this week to sell some Saab assets to China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co.

    State-owned BAIC will acquire the technology for Saab’s 9-3 and 9-5 car models, turbine engines and gearboxes, allowing the Chinese firm to develop its own-brand cars using the Swedish carmaker’s technology.”

    • jamar0303 says:

      Which isn’t too different from SAIC taking over most of Rover’s intellectual property (well, they’re British, but the pattern is much the same) and selling it under its own brand (granted, this was because Ford exercised right of first refusal over the use of the Rover name, so that’s different).

      • treimel says:

        Yes, but the Rover transfer was even more thorough–as well as carting off the machinery from Longbridge, they bought the MG brand IP as well, so there are new MGs being built in China; here, they didn’t get the SAAB name.

  16. admiral_stabbin says:

    Goodbye, SAAB. Don’t let the door hit you in the bumper.

  17. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Well maybe this is appropriate… I have experienced two SAABs so far in life and both of them had defects in the weather stripping and would fill with water when it rained… not good.

    Maybe the folks who designed fighter jets need to keep designing fighters…

  18. topgun says:

    I leased a SAAB and just got rid of it a year ago, actually a year before the lease was to expire. In a 24 month period, it was in for warranty repairs 12 times. 2 things needed repair when I dumped it. 3 times it had to be towed. If I remember correctly the transmission was from Australia, I think the engine was made in Japan, something else I believe was German. Must have had an identity crisis. Should have been yellow in color because it was surely a lemon

  19. rpm773 says:

    Jeez, and after 13 years I had finally saved up enough to buy my dream car, the Saab 9-5.

    I think what was missing from the Saab lineup was a badge-engineered GM SUV. Oh wait, they had that. Never mind then.

  20. SweetJustice says:

    I’ve had 3 Saabs. The first was used and died an early death. The second saved my life during a 85 mph car accident but was totaled. The third, made after the move to GM, finally became too unreliable and pricey to maintain, requiring an alternator more expensive than the blue book value.

    GM killed the spirit of Saab. Sad.

  21. Blow a fuse? I can fix that... says:

    How appropriate. I’m on my 4th SAAB (a 9-5 wit a 2.3 litre turbo), and had decided that my next car would _not_ be a GM car. I’ve owned two 900:s, both great cars, very few problems, one 9000, which all-in-all was a nice car, but the GMisms had begun to creep into the core.

    The original engine in the 9-5 came down with the oil sludge problem, but late enough that GM would not take responsibility for it, but my dealer made me a deal on plunking in a refurbed engine. That whole deal still soured me enough on GM, that I made a sacred vow not to ever line their pockets with my cash again.

  22. techstar25 says:

    First Tiger Woods and now GM. This has been a bad week for US-Sweden relations.

  23. H3ion says:

    Hell, I still miss the Packard. It’s natural selection unfortunately.

  24. kmw2 says:

    Lame :( No one else does the cockpit styling, and damn do I love that my passengers can’t see how fast I’m going. I figure my car’s still got another three years left in her, but what then? I might have to drive a *Volvo*

  25. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    GM purchased Saab, removed everything quirky that die-hard Saab owners liked and jacked up the price, turning the brand into an overpriced and unreliable yuppiemobile (thereby eliminating the brand’s only loyal following) GM really killed Saab years ago…it’s merely been in a coma for 7 years.

    RIP (pre-GM) Saab, you will be missed.

    Way to go, GM!

    Ford, on the other hand, had its act together when it purchased the better part of Volvo, and last I knew, Volvos seem to be as popular as ever.

  26. Trick says:

    Great, I’ve been saving my money for a Saab 9-7X and now there is no chance I can get this unique SUV brand new. There is nothing else like it and the fact that was a Saab made it all the better.

    This sucks.