A rallying call….or, letter to Bob Lutz, pt 2

How Saablike is the 9-7x??  There’ll be an easy way to tell and it fits right in with the Saab heritage.  Rally it.  So far Bob, you’ve managed to resist my offer of earlier in the week.  I’m still waiting for my email.  I’m telling you, I can run this shop, and here’s an important piece of the get-Saab-some-cred-back pie.

I love the photo of a resigned Erik Carlsson chugging down another brew after once-again ending up ‘on-the-roof’ (It used to be posted here, but is removed).  Saab has a huge rally heritage to draw on and there’s got to be some expertise sitting around in Sweden just aching to be tapped and bring back some respect to the brand.

Early Saabs, with their high revving two-strokes and front wheel drive, dominated the rally circuits of Europe in the early 1960’s.  A quick glance through records gives some highlights.  Here is just a few:

  • Multiple Swedish Rally wins
  • Thousand Lakes rally wins
  • 3 RAC rallies in row
  • Carlsson’s Monte Carlo wins

These rallies built Saab a reputation and proved the hardiness and character of the vehicles.  Saab built on that reputation even further by building innovative vehicles that captured the imagination of a discerning motoring public.

After the success of the two-strokes, Saab did it again with Stig Blomquist’s success in the 99 EMS and later, the 99 Turbo.  Stig’s EMS used a 16 valve 220hp engine, compared with the 8 valve 110hp engine available in the regular car off the showroom floor.  For a small team, these boys  could sure compete.  Rule changes and shrinking budgets eventually forced the end of the Saab factory rally team.

Now we have the 9-7x in the range.  OK, it’s not a genuine original Saab, but here’s my idea.  Send one of these off to Trollhattan and let the fellas there unleash some Swedish know-how on this delicate little flower.  Drag Per Eklund out whatever retirement village he’s lounging in at the moment and tap his brain for the best way to turn this car into a Paris-Dakar rally winner.  Per is a proven winner, driving for years in various Saabs and most recently taking his 800hp 9-3 to the top of the Pike’s Peak race (why this wasn’t publicised more is, again, beyond my comprehension).

Other big SUV’s enter the Paris-Dakar.  Mercedes, Renault, Citroen, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Toyota and the arch-nemesis, BMW were all entered this year.  There’s even a KIA in there for goodness sakes!!  Take a look at the entrants list – not a GM marque among them.  There is NO reason why Saab shouldn’t get a piece of this action.  Bill – think of the cred this could build for the brand.  Both for Saab globally and for GM locally in the US.  There is no tougher test in the world for a supposedly tough motor vehicle.

You know it makes sense.

Now, at the same time that the 9-7x is getting prepped for this, work should be done on getting the 9-3x to market.  People are crying out for a real Saab crossover vehicle (sorry Bob, but the 9-2x, whilst apparently a good product, is seen through by the discerning Saab purchaser).  The 9-3x concept with a high output turbo and AWD will win back all those classic-900 buyers that are now driving other vehicles.  It’ll also prevent those that are leaving for an AWD Audi (and other marques) from doing so.  At the same time that a street-ready 9-3x is being prepped, get a rally version up and running for competition in the WRC.

Resist at your own peril, Bob.  Are you trying to tell me that this vehicle (left) scurrying around the forests of Europe and Asia at breakneck speeds wouldn’t capture the imagination??  People would be tripping over themselves to get a piece of it. 

You want Saab to be your flagship global brand??  Then treat it like one.  Get some dollars in there and get it competitive in the world market place and get it some damn street-cred.  Look at what the WRC has done for Suuby.  As an aside, the exposure purely from video games related to these sports is HUUUUUGE.  Not to be shunned.

You sure you don’t want me taking charge over there?  I am SO in the Saab zone right now!!

Now that entry has GOT to be worth a click in the Ad section, to your right.  Off you go!!  Click away!!

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