Saab Is Saved... För Nöw

Illustration for article titled Saab Is Saved... För Nöw

The long-negotiated deal between GM and Spyker has finally gone through; Saab will be sold to the Dutch supercar maker. Should Saab fans rejoice or worry that this is just another cruel twist in Saab's long, quirky road to børking?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Spyker will contribute $74 million in cash for the deal and the European Investment Bank will provide $556 million. GM will maintain about $326 million in shares, or 1% of voting rights.

This continues GM's attempt to focus on the four core brands — Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac — that have maximum badge-engineering synergy potential. The Swedish brand has languished under GM ownership, losing much of its fabled quirkiness in the corporate drive to bean-count out character and replace it with vaguely Swedish-looking bodies sitting atop crappy mid-range Opels (GM's European badge-engineered brand).


So what value is left for Spyker? Other than a brand with a decades-old image problem and some mildly competitive platforms, it gets a factory in Tröllhattan that employs 3,500 Nordic superworkers, the brand-new (but GM-based) 2010 Saab 9-5 and, perhaps more tellingly, the $600 million in promised loans from the European Investment bank.

That last thing is thought to be most appealing to the ailing Spyker; it hasn't turned a profit during its 10-year history. In the worst case scenario, it's thought that Spyker could use that money to shore up its own operations, neglecting Saab in the process. In the best case, Saab, an unpopular brand with much-publicized financial woes, is now owned by a company with no experience mass-manufacturing cars during the toughest period for the car sales ever. It's hard to be optimistic about Saab's future.

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Now that you have bought Saab, here’s what to do with it:

Bring back a modernized Saab 96.

You know the history and legend of the Saab 96: the stiffest, strongest, safest 900-kg car ever built. They were so tough that they won off-road rallies – even Baja – against cars with double the horsepower. The basic design was truly iconic, even if Saab never quite built a perfect one. Now, you can.

Smooth out the lenses and seams, insert a modern 200-hp drivetrain, and start stamping them out. You can do this for millions of Euros less than any new design, and people will line up to buy them. It’ll be like VW’s New Beetle, except it’ll go 250 Km per hour.

My grandfather was the second Saab dealer in North America. My father and I owned, fixed and modified Saabs for thirty years. I’m telling you: you already have a car. Start building it, and I’ll be standing in the (long) line to buy the first one.