May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on May 4, 2015

Saab LogoBrief History About Saab

Saab Automobile was founded in 1945 in Sweden by Saab AB. Saab AB has been involved in aerospace and defence since 1937 and was setup to build aircraft for the Swedish Air Force, who were feeling threatened by the potential and eventual start of WW2. After WW2 Saab needed to diversify their business and in the mid-late 40’s decided to build automobiles.

In 1950 Saab entered into rally car racing, with entry into the Monte Carlo Rallye and has had good success with many race wins, including with Stig Blomqvist winning the 1979 Swedish Rallye in a Saab 99 Turbo – the first win by a turbocharged car in a World Championship rally.

In the 1960’s Saab started to export some of their cars, with their cars selling well, especially when they introduced the innovative Saab 99. In 1969 Saab also joined with Scania.

The 1970’s saw Saab grow even more and expand the 99 range, as well as partner with Fiat for a while. In 1978 the popular Saab 900 was introduced, followed by the 9000 in 1985. In 1986 the Saab 9000 set 2 world records and several international speed records. Saab Automobiles became a separate company from Saab AB in 1989, with GM taking a 50% stake in the company.

In 1994 Saab also then started to use the Opel Vectra platform for their cars. In 1996 the 900 sets 40 new international speed records. In the late 90’s they introduce the 9-5 and 9-3.

In 2000 GM took full ownership of Saab, however things didn’t go to plan and there were failures, model and update cancellations and also a financial strain within GM, that ultimately saw Saab go into administration. Talks from many other manufacturers took place on the possible acquisition of Saab, including from Koenigsegg and a Chinese company, but the deal was hampered with delays and difficulties. Eventually in 2010 Saab was bought by Spyker Cars and GM agreed to keep supplying the engines and transmissions, but despite a government loan, Spyker ran into financial difficulties itself in 2011. Spyker then tried to setup several deals involving Chinese investors, but GM were not happy to allow their technology to be available to the Chinese and Saab was then made bankrupt.

In 2012 large parts of Saab was bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), who incidentally are a Chinese company. Their intention was to build mostly electric versions of Saab cars, so didn’t need GM’s parts, although they still wanted to build some petrol 9-3’s. Production only lasted a short period, until it ceased in 2014, due to a main investor not fulfilling their agreement, which also caused the bankruptcy of both Saab and the NEVS company.

Saab 99 Turbo
99 Turbo 1978-1980

Saab 900 Turbo
900 Turbo 1979-1998

Saab 9000 Turbo
9000 Turbo 1985-1998

Saab 9-3 Turbo
9-3 Turbo 1998-2012

Saab 9-5 Turbo
9-5 Turbo 1997-2012