Trollhättan has one foot in the grave, and it's not clear if she's coming back. Saab History wants to organize a caravan to Detroit to coincide with next week's moment of truth. Think cars should have soul? Listen up.
For all intents and purposes, Saab has spent the past two decades on life support. The Swedish marque was once known for innovative and quirky cars, machines that eschewed normal thinking but were nevertheless fun and engaging to drive. Thanks to years of corporate laziness, the brand once known as the Turbo (neé Two-Stroke) Terror is on its way out.
Saab Automobile is dying. And you might be able to do something about it.
Ryan Emge of Saab History has a plan. If you own a Saab, he wants you to drive to Detroit next week and gather outside of GM's headquarters. Rally. Make signs. Protest. Start something. Make the General think twice before putting the kibosh on the sale. And while it may seem like a futile gesture, we think it's a spectacular idea.
If you don't think this is important, then perhaps you're not seeing the whole picture. We live in a world where regulatory evils have reduced the modern car to a nannied-up nothing, a vanilla piece of groupthink and legislated conformity. Bringing a new vehicle to market is a complex, expensive, and liability-rich process, and it doesn't favor the small or independent. Most of the world's vehicular quirk-peddlers long ago bit the dust, victims of regulatory ills and shrinking profits.
This is not news. That interesting, mass-produced cars exist at all — here's looking at you, Porsche, Mazda, and a handful of others — should be viewed as nothing short of a miracle. But it is not a recent development. And while the industry will never return from whence it came, we must champion those who attempt to step outside the mold.
Where does Saab fit into all this? Simple: Trollhättan may not mean anything now, but it has potential — the Turbo X was proof of that. There's a place in the modern automotive world for the Good and Different, and that place doesn't have to be populated by a thin-shelled reskin of a prehistoric Detroit platform. If Saab lives, regardless of how, there's a chance that Different will return. Call us romantics, but we think it's a chance worth taking.
The risks are admittedly high. Saab was almost insolvent when GM purchased it in 1989, proof that a business cannot survive on product quirk alone. And despite the best efforts of a few dedicated Swedes, the firm's cars long ago ceased to resemble "real" Saabs or matter to ordinary people. But enough: The world has grown bland, and if Saab croaks, it'll grow blander still.
Don't let that happen. Take a vacation day. Go to Detroit. Start something. In the meantime, we're going to be here, watching stuff like this:
Viva weird. Viva different. Viva Saab.