Quirky car manufacturer began making aircraft in 1938
7 January 2010

Saab opened its factory in Trollhättan in 1938, and it originally produced aircraft during World War Two for the Royal Swedish Air Force.

Its first production car was the Saab 92. which was launched in 1947, and Saab quickly established a reputation for building safe and reliable cars.

Saab ventured into the computing industry in the 1950s with its subsidiary Datasaab, and it developed a computer small enough to be used for aircraft navigation.

The 93, 94 and 95 all followed the 92, and the 99, launched in 1969 was Saab's first turbocharged model.

Saab merged with truck maker Scania in 1968 and up until 1995, the company was called Saab-Scania.

It produced its millionth car in 1976 and two years later it signed a deal with Fiat to sell a rebadged Lancia Delta as a Saab 600.

The two firms then co-developed the Type Four chassis, which produced the Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma, Saab 9000 and Lancia Thema.

Saab introduced the Combi-Coupe in 1974, which lived on in various guises until it was replaced by the 9-3 in 2002.

General Motors bought a 50 per cent stake in Saab in 1989, and Saab recorded a profit in 1995 for the first time in seven years.

GM bought the remaining shares in Saab in 2000, but it was in effect put up for sale by the US giant last December, when it was announced that the Swedish firm's position as one of its brands was "under review".

Saab entered administration in February this year but GM agreed to sell the firm to Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg. The deal fell through earlier this month and GM said Saab would be closed by Christmas if no new buyer could be found. GM announced Saab would be closed on 18 December.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week


Join the debate


19 December 2009

This is a VERY brief history. Surely they deserve more ?

19 December 2009

Those early Saab's were really beautiful examples of industrial engineering. The aircraft influence is evident on them and the form that follows the function is truly timeless.

What a shame to lose Saab! Of course, they were really lost when GM took them over.

...the band was playing Dixie: double-four time...

19 December 2009

I completely agree, part of their appeal was their unmistakable appearance. Many liked the way the cars looked. I had a special affection for the SAAB 9000 Aero of the mid 90's. It was like driving a skateboard on rails and was surprisingly quick.

We tend to berate the companies who own such 'revered' marques, but ultimately, it's the motorist that seals the fate of any car. The product were good, but their was better for the price, thus sales fell.

Though SAABs are will no longer be made, they will not disappear off our roads for decades. If Rover 75's still plod our roads in massive numbers after 5 years since production ceased, SAABs certainly will.

19 December 2009

[quote Stephen Guckel]Rover 75's still plod our roads in massive numbers after 5 years since production ceased[/quote] Rover 75s don't plod, they glide! And as for "massive numbers", sadly that was never the case. It's very sad about Saab though.

19 December 2009

Of course, as an ex75 owner, I should have known better! But I was merely trying to put a picture of a 'plucky' Rover 75 bounding dutifully along a road in the Home Counties.

28 January 2010

And where, I ask, is the history of Saab's engines? I don't know about the Ford V4, but the Saab inline four was, believe it or not, developed from that of the Triumph Dolomite/TR7 - now, if only I could get a Dolly Sprint and put in a Saab 2.3l version (ideally re-casting the block in aluminium, as the Sprint had), complete with turbo - result, sub-1 ton RWD sports saloon with <260bhp! Wahehey! -- P. S. - yes, I know we're talking one of the worst-built cars ever made. But we're also talking one of the prettiest - friendly and approachable, but still aggressive. I might widen the track a little at the rear and/or fit better springs (I'd definitely consider bracing the shock absorber turrets), anything to improve the (already very good) handling.

17 June 2009

I'd never heard of the Saab 600 until reading this, so I googled it. It looks like the only thing Saab changed was the name!

17 June 2009

This really is a very brief history. Fails to mention that Saab were always very short of money. First cars were two-stroke and when they did get a four-stroke engine it was a V4 bought from Ford. The replacement straight four that sustained them until the GM link was based on the Triumph Dolomite engine.The miracle is that they did so much with so little.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week