Posted by: saabnuts | December 24, 2011

Saabing over Saab 12-24-2011

Hello fellow Saabers.

I hope that this post finds you well and enjoying the holiday weekend in spite of the recent Saab news, and most of all that the employees of Saab have a Happy Christmas and chance to enjoy some time with family, again in spite of the Saab news.

I can’t help but thinking about where we are with Saab right now and shake my head thinking of how different things could be and should be for Saab.

If you’ve read this blog long enough you will know that I am / was a Volvo enthusiast for many years as well and enjoyed owning several Volvos along with our Saabs.  We did become a Saab exclusive household long ago but I do not dislike Volvos.

Our history with both Swedish car brands which goes back to the 1980’s and includes Saabs and Volvos as old as 1971 models has me thinking about the two brands and making inevitable comparisons.

Back in the 1980’s Volvo had just the 200 and 700 series for models with the 240 and 260 series being offered in two and four door varieties along with wagon / estate models.

Saab had the 900 and 9000 models with a similar variety of two, four and five door variants.  Both companies did things differently from the competition, enjoyed loyal followings and offered safe, quality vehicles to buyers.

Jump ahead to the 1990’s and the acquisitions of both companies: Ford acquired Volvo while GM acquired Saab.  Ford did not integrate Volvo into Ford to the same extent that GM did with Saab, and Saab is accused of resisting the mothership (GM) attempts to further integrate it into GM.

Hmmm.  Where are Volvo and Saab now?  Volvo was successfully set free of Ford and is still thriving and came to offer a much wider array of models during its time under Ford’s umbrella of brands.

Saab was sold quite possibly to the buyer least able buyer financially to see it through to its next incarnation.  No offense to Spyker and Mr. Victor Muller.  Clearly there is NO ONE more dedicated to helping Saab survive than Mr. Muller and I can’t imagine what might have happened had this man I have come to respect so deeply (Muller) not been the one trying to make Saab a success.  We salute and thank you sincerely Mr. Muller for your on going efforts.

Personally I always appreciated and respected that companies like Saab and Volvo did not change models every two years for the sake of style, and that their car models were tried, tested and proven designs.  We are not and will never be people like most that we know here in the U.S. who will buy a new car simply because that new Nissan has different tail lights from the one in your driveway.  That is about as dumb as it gets and people we know say things like this to us OFTEN.

Speaking of these people we know who often share the misconception that Saabs are expensive to own, I will again remind them that our Saabs have been incredibly reliable, get us to where we are going with front wheel drive only quite safely, get better gas mileage than your Nissans and Toyotas, and we aren’t asking you for rides to the repair shop as often as you all ask us for your Japanese and American cars.

Really people?  You expect me to believe that our cars cost more to maintain than yours?  Let’s compare service records.  We track every penny spent for our fuel, insurance and service costs for ALL of our Saabs, and I will show my receipts for repairs any day to anyone.  We’ve owned 7 Saabs and still own 4.  All have been a fantastic experience for us.  If your Nissan was so good, why did you replace it with a Kia or Hyndai?  Excuse me.  Blech!

If Saabs were so expensive to maintain as some people think, we wouldn’t be hanging onto 4 of them for just two drivers.  The bottom line is that even amid our personal financial woes, we can still afford to keep 4 Saabs in perfect working order, and we pay a Saab dealer to do that for us.

Back to my comparison rant.  I understand that Volvo and Saab did not change their looks fast enough (at one time) to suit the tastes of more mainstream buyers.  But both companies once offered a small lineup and survived.  Volvo survived and has a much larger portfolio while Saab stymied under GM.

Go ahead and lecture me about sour grapes and being too quick to blame GM for all of Saab’s problems.  I do not blame GM for everything, but I also won’t entertain arguments that GM supported Saab for 20 years.  The answers aren’t quite that simple.  Yes, Saab may have disappeared long ago without GM’s backing and purchase of the company, but they also might have survived without GM’s inability to manage and foster the brand for what it is: innovative, different, trend setting, standard setting, etc.

It does not matter what I think or have thought all these years we worried about GM slowly sucking the life out of Saab, for it does not change where we and Saab stand today, but I won’t sit back and be quiet about it either.  We are angry and also crushed beyond what most people likely experience to be living through the recent news of Saab, and that can’t hold a candle to what Saab employees must be experiencing.

I’ll close this post again thanking every single person at Saab for what you have done for so many decades.  Your unique designs and solutions to how to build better than average cars have not gone unnoticed.  Your innovations have influenced the entire auto industry over time, in spite of the fact that you were never one of the largest car manufacturers.

The safety innovations, aerodynamic designs, fun to drive aspects, efficient / high gas mileage you offered at great prices set the standards for the industry long before most of these things were ever on the radar of other companies.

You provided us with driving experiences we still enjoy and that allow us to find passion for driving we don’t find elsewhere.

Thank you to everyone at Saab for everything and we still wish you all a speedy resolution to the current financial circumstances and the chance to build Saabs again.

Finally, I will leave you with a video that is not the usual for this blog.  From the 1980’s when I was a teen and earlier on in my passion for Saabs, a music video that always got me excited… and you can guess why.

I’ve read that the Saab in the video was actually owned by Human League lead singer Philip Oakey.  Way to go Philip!

Enjoy the video and Happy Holidays and New Year to all even if my post is a little too grinch like for the occasion.

UPDATE / Additional thought:  Back in 2009 / 2010 when Saab was being sold by GM and again today, many people seem to enjoy pointing out that if more Saab enthusiasts put “their money where their mouths are” and bought new Saabs, perhaps Saab’s circumstances would be different.  Perhaps, and that is a valid point and I know that there are Saab enthusiasts who may refuse to buy a new car because of the cost versus buying used, etc.

However, there are many of us who have purchased new Saabs (3 of our 7 were purchased new).  Unfortunately our financial situation has been such for SEVERAL years that new cars are simply out of the question when faced with deciding between keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Accordingly, those “money where your mouths are” comments are tiresome and insulting.  Perhaps it is the intent of the people who post those comments to try to create friction among the ranks of Saab enthusiasts, or simply to make those of us who couldn’t afford new Saabs to feel embarrassed or regret not buying more new Saabs, as if we don’t live with that knowledge every single day.

If you had any idea what people like us have done on a daily basis and for decades to promote the brand, even when we weren’t able to buy new Saabs, perhaps you’d keep those comments to yourselves.  No kidding?  If more of us purchased new Saabs, maybe they would have survived?  None of us would have figured that out on our own, because apparently some people think fellow Saab drivers are that incredibly dense?  Really?

We do applaud those who purchased new Saabs and salute you, but please try not to hold it against or “lord it over” fellow Saabers that all of us weren’t able to do the same.  Thank you.

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