Keeping track of SAAB, from its separation from General Motors until they finally went down in mid-2012, was certainly not a spectacle for the faint of heart SAAB fans. It was a rollercoaster of will-it-or-won’t-it for the survival of the brand that ended in August when it finally settled on “It won’t”. This very red SAAB 9-5 is one of the last cars they produced and because it’s from a not very well-liked firm and not old enough to be a classic, you can pick it up for cheap.
I believe that I’m actually doing a disservice of the brand by saying it was not liked. SAAB always had a very loyal fanbase, bordering of fanatical actually, and almost always highly educated and sneering at the traditional offerings. Their media kit was always happy to tell you that, and I quote, “More Saab owners have advanced degrees than any other car owning group.” Though they weren’t usually picked as smart buys they certainly had the smart vote which, as we all know from a quote from someone eluding me, isn’t enough.
Saab Sales in the U.S never once exceeded 100k units a year since 2000, and for that matter they didn’t exceeded 50k units. 2003 was the best year for SAAB in the new millennium with a grand total of 47,913 units. This would be… not okay but at least passable if they didn’t just insisted on making large, expensive bespoke parts for their cars instead of raiding GM’s endless parts bin. This made the costs higher and everything more difficult to manage. When bailout time came around, dumping SAAB must’ve been the easiest choice since cake or death.
Our subject car is really a last batch, a 2011 model with only 17,000 miles on the clock painted in a very lovely shade of red. Being as how every other SAAB I’ve seen is on the requisite resale greyscale this just made it immediately more desirable to my eyes. Not to mention the exterior is absolutely gorgeous in your author’s opinion.
The interior on the other hand, as “inspired by jets” as it may have been I’m sorry, the interior just looks awful. The central LCD screen looks like an enlarged and greenified 90’s BMW unit to me, the dashboard looks like an afterthought in cheap black plastic and the whole green instrumentation just seems unnatural for a car. Still, if it floats your boat and you want to tell people that you own something unique and actually quite special, it’s currently sitting at $13,100, though still below reserve price. Just don’t go around telling people you own the last SAAB ever, as Mahindra just bought what’s left of the SAAB group. The zombie might just come back from the dead once more.
Apparently when GM took over Saab, they thought Saab would just re-badge the corresponding Opel model and maybe change a little sheet metal and plastic. Saab thought otherwise, since they had a reputation for making decent cars, and Opels’ reputation was shot by the 90’s.The resulting cars were much better than Opels, but dearer to make, and still barely good enough for real Saab lovers.
These last 9-5s were extremely handsome though.
I really love that shade of red on these final 9-5s, although I have only seen it in pictures. I see a fair amount of these final 9-5s, as Eastern Massachusetts was one of Saab’s biggest markets. The ones I see are all neutral colors though.
There are a LOT of these for sale with low miles, some of them are even leftovers that were never purchased when new! They can be picked up for fairly cheap, although fully-loaded Aero models are harder to come by.
I certainly like these cars to a degree. The styling is distinctive and relatively attractive, although the hood is a bit too short for it to look like a true sports sedan. My main qualm I cannot get over is that this car rides on the same platform as the Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Malibu, and inevitably shares a lot of parts with them.
Still a few here in CT. They are pretty common here as well. Almost bought a 2003 9-5 last year but it had a few electrical bugs that scared me off.\
Kurt Vonnegut was reportedly the second SAAB dealer in the United States; his dealership was on Cape Cod.
Heh! I just posted this on my Facebook page yesterday:
This has got to be some kind of CC effect…
This one in CT still has brand-new 2011 Saabs.
(IMHO, the discount isn’t deep enough for a car that’s been sitting 3-4 years.)
Forget the Saabs, they’ve got the world’s cleanest 1980 Chevy Citation!
And a brown diesel wagon!
On the Saab side, they also have a 9-4x, which I believe
is one of about 450 before Saab quit.
They also have a stunningly well preserved Camaro RS from 1980!
I’m a mess! Why in the world would I want a 4 cylinder diesel automatic! And yet I do! It must take 30 seconds to hit 60!
When I look at this, it screams “Malibu” at me. It was a sad end to a great brand.
I saw a 9-5 while walking with my parents while home for Christmas. It was silver and looked far more generically GM than I’d remembered from what must have been carefully staged publicity photos. My parents are auto enthusiasts, but my mother asked which of the cars in the driveway I saw it in was the last of the Saabs, not recognizing the 9-5 as a Saab in spite of there also being a 9-3 near it for comparison. They also had a Pontiac Vibe, and a couple of BMWs in the driveway. In the past, the same family had a couple of Merkur Scorpios, leading to a small hope that BMW will stop making cars that have nothing to do with its glorious past and become a historical footnote.
The left side screamed “Camry!” to me
Looks too much like a Camry from the side profile, oddly.
Nice looking car. I especially like the profile shot. It reminds me of a Camry!
The profile is Camry, and the rear looks like a Saturn L200.
Ooh, I would love to have this one, or one of its ‘brothers’.
However, I don’t much care the red color, though, despite being one of those people who find modern ‘resale grey’ fashion quite boring and I love real color on cars, and all the cars I have owned (4 so far) were painted in real colors: red, teal, dark blue, dark green. But if any car somehow justifies being one of the shades of silver/grey etc, it’s Saabs. Although they look (even more) fantastic in blue shades, too.
I like the interior, too. Being a bit of aviation enthusiast myself, I get what they are (were) trying to convey with their cockpit design. They were always trying to sell the “we also build jet fighters, so our cars are cool because of that” theme. Which was actually more or less bullshit because the jetfighter-making company and the car-making company were two separate entities, if I’m not mistaken. But it still seems kinda neat if your car wears the same name as one of the few designers of modern jets.
And the interior design, even on its own, somehow pleases me. I, for one, find the green illumination way cool (and I hear it’s also less stressful for your eyes when driving at night).
Anyway, Saab cockpit design indeed ‘floats my boat’ (or should it be ‘flies my jet’?) 🙂
GM when down that road with the Le Sabre concept car and later Buick Model as well.
The funniest SAAB ad was a 9-7X evolving from a fighter jet using CGI, even though it’s clearly a TrailBlazer badge job, built on same assembly line. Some people just had to have one thinking it was ‘all Swedish’.
The fanatics were funny to, wanting a ‘savior’ to bring back the company, like Apple Inc, or China. Oh wait…
A part of me says if I’m going to drive a “clone” of a GM-built vehicle, spend the extra money and buy the 94X. But it’s a boring silver grey, and while this is a newer engine design, the 2.8 engine is a turn-off, too.
For around $13-14 thousand, I would gladly live with this 95. But I think explaining to folks over and over that it’s not a Camry would get old.
Actually the only thing I like is the interior, it’s maybe a bit dated sure but I like the driver oriented layout 10000x more than the giant center stack every other 2012 car has. And I don’t care for big LCD displays.
The exterior is interesting, it kind of evokes the old 900 sedans but it looks pretty awkward on a bloated modern platform
The local multi-line dealer had one of these as a service loaner for a while after his Saab franchise closed. I thought it was gorgeous, considering it shares the same bones as a Malibu or an Opel Insiginia (Buick Regal).
It’s truly a shame that Saab was closed down, but GM buying them was only delaying the obvious for a long time. If GM hadn’t bought them back then, I’m pretty sure the automotive operations of Saab would have been liquidated long ago.
I wouldn’t mind that 9-4x they have…
Mahindra would be a great choice to bring back Saab, they’ve proven themselves well with their management of Jaguar and Land Rover.
I thought it was TATA who owned Jaguar Land Rover?
It is. Mahindra make comedy junk SUVs
Saab really should’ve released the 9-5 wagon first.
RE: “they [Saab] certainly had the smart vote which, as we all know from a quote from someone eluding me, isn’t enough.”
The elusive quote may be from Governor Adlai Stevenson II, who twice ran for president.
The story goes that a supporter once called out during a campaign event, “Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!”
Stevenson replied, “That’s not enough, madam. I need a majority.”
Judging by this set of reviews on Mahindra tractors, I’d say Saab is a perfect fit for Mahindra. One more poorly built vehicle guaranteed to fall apart when you try to use it.
The NG 9-5 was an excellent car that didn’t really have it’s time to shine. I sold quite a few of these, especially in the V6 turbo AWD Aero guise. Very fast and refined. They may come back one day, but at the moment ‘SAAB’ as a car manufacturer don’t have the rights to use the name. The Mahindra investment may finalise and that is their only chance at this time.
I’d like to see SAAB come back again. My sister had an 99 EMS for 15 or so years, I spent a fair amount of time in that one and came to appreciate their quirkyness.
Who knows, maybe Mahindra can make it work…
Nice Saab. Best looking one ever. But that Citation in the link is the one I’d rather have. Talk about “quirky”.
This is a great looking car! I too have one of the last SAABs – a 2011 93x twin turbo diesel, registered on a 2012 plate as one of the last 4 in Scotland. Fast, safe, economical, superbly comfortable, huge boot, individual and stylish looks – there’s nothing like them at the price. Dreading thinking about having to replace it eventually.
hi big paws i also have one of the very last saabs a 9-5 ttid4 6 speed manual in carbon grey. it was originally owned by davidsons cattle feeds from shotts and was purchased new from western saab in glasgow, did your 93x come from the same dealer?. i only bought the car in january this year and i think its brilliant and very distinctive, i am told its the only one in the coastal area of flintshire where i live. ive never owned a saab before and i will keep mine forever.
I really loved the design of these things. Subtle, but *so* effective. It’s a shame it wasn’t with us for longer, as I forecast the non-GM generic parts will reach unobtanium status rather quickly.
I’ll have the Cake, please.
There is a SAAB Dealer in Portland, Gary Small Saab on SE82nd. They got a bunch of 2011 9-5s and many other SAABs.
This is the real link by the way!
What is the most recent ‘pure'(non-GM) SAAB one can now buy?