One of the most popular areas of my old site was the Saab Vs posters, which I’m hoping to load up on here again soon. I am missing a few of these though, so if you have a copy of the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ poster or any others that you didn’t see on my old site, please let me know. I’d love to get the whole set.
I felt compelled to write about the posters, but that wasn’t the reason behind the headline.
Who is Saab’s competition?
I was disappointed to read the following over at SaabCentral, in response to a comment I’d posted there a couple of weeks ago (I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but illness and my work schedule conspired against posting about it).
Originally Posted by Swade
I’m a little concerned by this. if Caddy is being aimed squarely at BMW/Merc/Audi, then where is Saab going to aim at? VW? Whatever happened to the “global premium brand”?
Saab was never as prestigious as BMW, Mercedes, or even Cadillac in it’s current form.
It’s more of a “quirky, dare to be different” type of brand that appeals to a limited number of consumers. GM has to work hard to figure out how to make a brand with limited appeal ( like Saturn) profitable.
Mercedes and Cadillac, I’ll give you. My comment in reference to these marques was based on my ideas of future competition.
But never as prestigious as BMW? Granted, Saab fell behind the hun in the 90′s. Bob Lutz’s work with BMW bore fruit as the money they recouped and the investment it allowed finally bore fruit.
Prior to the 90′s, however, I’d be happy to hold a good condition classic 900 Aero up against any 3-series BMW and see how they stack up. I’ll have to do some digging in terms of performance, but in terms of styling and design I’d say the Aero was all-that and more!!
Take a good look at Drew Bedelph’s sensational 900 Aero, above. Click on the picture to enlarge it. The classic shape, which stood firm right from the early Combi Coupe’s of the 1970s until 1993 when the classic 900 was replaced. Now, let’s take a peek at a BMW, circa mid 80′s – and to be fair, I’ll us a stock photo of a (as it was then)pristine new model (the photo of Drew’s car is a new photo of an 17 year old car).
Now, which car would you rather have? Which car looks more dated? Which car would be more fun to drive?
And do you still think Saab were never competitors to BMW??
Back in the day, the 900 was not only a stylish vehicle, it was an innovative vehicle too. Leading the way in turbo application and enhancing the model with the beautiful convertible in the mid 80′s,
Saab were a very desireable vehicle at the time.
I’ve been called in comments by Peter (and rightly so) for picturing a crappy basic 318i against a c900 Aero. Fair enough. So thanks to Eggs n Grits, here’s a 1988 M3. From a styling perspective (and from any other) I’ll still take the Aero, no question.
Although the sales levels for Saab were records at the time in the mid 80′s the reality was that comparitively low sales volumes meant low profits, which meant low investment compared to the larger-scale competition. BMW has moved ahead in leaps and bounds since this time, whereas the financial difficulties at Saab continued through the 1990′s until the final sale of the brand to GM in 2000.
So where does this leave Saab going forward? This is what I was commenting on at SC.
Some people seem to be thinking that Saab can create it’s own niche in the motoring market. The line of thought seems to be that somehow, Saab can create *grrrr* quirky vehicles that people will buy when they can’t quite afford a BMW or an Audi.
They also seem to think that in a modern auto-manufacturing world, accepting the crumbs that fall off BMW’s table will be enough for the marque to survive.
Dead. Set. Wrong.
Let me tell you this: I believe that if properly managed and financed, Saab can not only compete with BMW, Audi, Alfa, Volkswagen, Volvo, the smaller Mercedes classes and Cadillac, it can top them.
40 years or so ago, Swedish engineers developed the 99 out of absolutely nothing and developed it into one of the best and most versatile cars of the 1980′s (as the 900). With proper management and investment, I have no doubts whatsoever that the innovation and quality brought to market in the classic 900 could be regenerated again.
Not only is it a case of it COULD be done, it’s a basic necessity. If GM are going to be persuaded to keep the Saab brand alive, then it’s place in the world is as a competitor on the global scale against these other players. Being a bit player just under the class is NOT going to cut it – and who’d be satisfied in a car that’s acknowledged as being the one you buy if you can’t get another? Saab could be the Euro equivalent of a Hyundai (i.e. I can’t afford a Honda)???
Bob Lutz – I take pride in my Saab ownership and I always want to do so. I’ll gladly run my 99 Turbo against anything a 3 series Bimmer could offer in 1979. I’d gladly take Drew’s 900 Aero against a 3-series of the equivalent year and I want more than anything to be able to say the same thing about Saabs and BMW’s in 10 years, 15 years and 25 years from now.
Give those lads in Sweden some time, some freedom and the appropriate finance – and watch them go.
The 2.8 Aero and the Sport Combi are just the beginning, folks. From what these vehicles promise, and from what the model lineup in the future could look like, there’s going to be much more to buying a Saab than sheer loyalty.