News that GM is on the point of killing its non-performing brands - Saab, Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn - as part of a bid to win the lion's share of the $25 Saab billion bail-out that the US Big Three is seeking from the US government looks the strongest confirmation yet that quite a few more marques will go west before the current economic conflagration is over.

Apart from the obvious (and highly regrettable) threat to livelihoods around the world, I can't help thinking that there are positive sides to this, if death of the duffers adds strength to those which still have legs.

Reviewing GM's brands, I'll be sorry if Saab goes because the original Swedish brand maintained its original, quirky character until the mid-1990s, when GM began strapping various bits of Vectra under the new 900 in 1993.

But that original character is now all gone, scuppered by confused thinking that has led over the years to the production of oddities like a Saab-badged version of the Subaru Impreza (the 9-2X, pictured) and is scheduled to lead to a re-badged Cadillac SUV.

The Saabs I remember (not least because there are quite a few of them driving around) are the 92 and 95 baby cars: I'd say GM hastened then marque's demise by not offering a small Saab, presumably because it's hard to make money with small cars.