In hindsight, Saab could never have prospered as the most distant member – in terms of both intellectual approach and physical distance – of the General Motors family.
It suffered two distinct decades of muddle and under-investment.
When GM swept in and snatched 50 per cent of Saab from under Fiat’s nose in 1990, the Swedish carmaker hardly benefitted. GM’s components bin contained little worthy of a premium brand.
The 1993 900 was a brave effort with poor hand, but the split of ownership between GM and the Swedish Investor Group meant investment in new products was comically lacking in the 1990s.
While other premium brands expanded massively on the back of a mass roll-out of new products, Saab remained stuck with just four distinct models. Low volumes and unique engineering further undermined Saab’s business case.
At the beginning of the decade, GM took full ownership and Saab tried to begin a new chapter with the 2003 9-3.