About those tail lamps

This photo hasn’t quite given me sleepless nights, but it’s given me plenty to think about. Those Marylin Manson tail lamps are causing me some problems with a car that I’ve already come to be quite fond of.


The thing that troubled me most was these looked so thick and so…finished. The major cause for concern was that the reflection of the fence in the black section of the plastic indicated that there wasn’t any tape on the outside of these lamps. Normally, anything that they want to cover up gets plastered with tape. We’ve seen that on the grille and the headlights. We’ve seen this black tape used to create bumps strips that weren’t really there and as cover for those vents in the front spoiler.

Yesterday I received some correspondence telling me to relax a little about the rear lights, which was a big relief, but it still raised questions in my mind. How come they do look so finished and what else is there going to be?

I don’t know the answer to the second part, but maybe I’ve got an answer to the first.

The first thing I thought of that supports the ‘relax’ theory is that these lights do actually look a bit different to the convertible tail lights we saw a few weeks ago thanks to Auto Motor and Sport……


…..although maybe they have more in common with the sedan tail lamps as seen and snapped by a Trollhattan local a short time later:


The black area on these latest tail lamps (top photo) is inconsistent with those above in that it’s a lot thicker. Either they haven’t got their final product nailed yet (not likely) or all three of these are man-made. But then why the reflections in that top shot?

In a waking moment of dazzling brilliance (cue trumpets) it dawned on me: the tape is on the inside (see comments to note that I’m not the first one to think of this).

Being on the inside of the lens it still covers that which needs to be covered whilst looking like a finished product because it doesn’t alter the consistency of the outside appearance in the light (down trumpets).

I still don’t know what it’s covering up but somehow now I feel a bit more confident that whatever’s there isn’t necessarily going to be this thick black outline that we see in the Sport Sedan at the top.

Which means I can love this car unconditionally again.

You may also like


  1. My combi has this black trim seperating the coloured lights in the tail. I suspect this will be the new norm for tail treatment.
    Swade I think you are wrong, sorry.

  2. Swade, Maybe your waking moment was just a subconscious remembering of Bejron’s comment in the first posting:-)…
    “Not likely but they could have gone the extra mile and put the tape behind the glass just to fool onlookers but I personally think the black is there to stay.”

  3. Ted, thanks for that. It’s a comment I’d overlooked and I look a little silly now with that in mind.

    Brian, I can cope if it’s thin black like the two earlier pictures, but the thick black of the third image just seems like too much. It may suit the SportCombi but not the sedan IMHO.

  4. To my eyes, both the tail lights on the sedans seem the same: our perception changes because the dark colour of the second one takes some “stregth” out of the black lines.

    And I think it’s not tape either, even if inside: if it was tape, it wouldn’t have the perfect finished curved shapes on the edges of the lamp…

    Maybe these aren’t the final lamp designs for the car -just tests- but they are not camuflaged!

    That’s to my eyes, of course! 🙂

  5. This car (or those cars) are running around in the open. Maybe there is a reason for that? They are just some old test vehicles with one type of lamps they tried out.

  6. I don’t know why people are not liking the black surround.

    Personally, I think they give the car a menacing look. Quite dark. And again, unique. Although they could perhaps do with being a little thinner with the black outline.

    Swade, I do not think there is tape on the inside of the light cluster, I think that these are going to be the final design pieces.

    I remember a saab rep mentioning that the rear lights for the saloon are going to raise some eyebrows, now we know what he meant 🙂

  7. Actually, if you look at the two spy shots without the thick black lines, the light clusters borders look body coloured. Perhaps they will be body coloured inserts then?

  8. In that case Kaz, these ain’t it!
    These are barely altered – if we are getting excited about the width of black separating the lenses, we have truly let GM off the hook – this car needed something more radical to update it (more attractive than the botched 9-5 rear (which IMHO is the REAL achiles heel of that range, not the menacing vader mask)), but I digress – the 9-3 really deserved a thinner strip of lights at the rear (especially the ‘vert which has always suffered disporportionately large lights). Shame we seem to be getting a 5€ tape job after waiting 5 years.

  9. Agreed Mark, I for one would have LOVED to have seen the Aero X rear light cluster appear on the facelift. That Aero X rear is just sooooo damn nice!!

  10. Mark, you’re right about need a thinner strip of lights in the back. The current lights are just too big and look like they are from circa 2001, which in reality they are. They remind me of an Alero (*shudder). When everyone else is going thinner and sleeker with their back lights, we’re essentially fooling around with color. I really think a full rear end re-tool was in order, and if these really are official rear end photos its a shame they didn’t go far enough.

  11. Now now, y’all, stop hating the new 9-5. (I love it.) At least it HAS its own taillights, and while, if you squint, you can see how they fit into the 1999 9-5’s light fixtures, at least they don’t look like the poor thing was sent to a body shop and given clear lenses. The droopy tail lights look (which Audi invented but now seems to be abandoning, if the A5 is any indication) is at least European and classy. This is just…ugh. Don’t get me wrong; I’m fine with whited out tail lights, but do them right! Make them look WHITED OUT!

  12. I still hope, that we will see some sorta LED Lights going exactly around the blackened parts… as they would circle around the inner whitened ones – my first guess, when I was originally looking at the Sedan pic to the bottom, was just that – have a closer look at the left tl and you will see this bright red reflection – even cooler would be this as a surround trim of LEDs in adaptive version [the harder you brake, the brighter them will get!]…. I’m still dreaming of this – imagine it at night!!! and I won’t stop drooling for this idea, until reality fights back on us 😉

  13. The coolest feature would be for them to be light pipes.

    Light pipes in place of the black outline would just rock!!

  14. Black strip outline would be out of place – when the front grille surrounds are not of the same black color. I do think it is black tape on the inside.

    In anycase, I’m confident that this new 9-3 is going to be a beaut

  15. If Swade was told not to worry I would guess the lights are an option or an abandoned styling exercise from a customer clinic, some like it some don’t ( I am in the latter camp for the record) so it would make sense to offer a few different styles. Give the customer some choice.

    To every one who would want a more restlyed rear – I get your point and even agree but the more they spend the longer the face lift will need to last to pay for itself. I want to see an all new 9-3 in 09.

  16. Swade, about the Bejron comment, I was about to follow it up with a “Great minds think alike” comment when a truck took down our cable line. Just now got fixed.

  17. I had a closer look at the tail lights of the 9-3 combi and noticed that it has a black outline/border as well. Not as thick and defined as the “through the fence” picture but it’s there.

    Hopefully they haven’t nailed the design yet and it’s thicker in the pic then it will be on the finished car but I can more or less put money down on that there will be some sort of black outline..

  18. Swade, don’t worry about it. Those taillights are so incredibly hideous that there’s no way that’s what’s going to go on the production model. Give SAAB some credit for having taste.

    There IS such thing as shiny black tape. I have some glossy black electrical tape in my toolbox right now.

    I’m guessing the tape is covering an LED “light pipe” like the headlights are getting, but in red.

    Just before I pressed “Post” I see that Kaz had the same idea as I do (light pipes).

  19. Guys, we are all guessing but I think there will be LEDS…. The reasons are following:

    1. There have been so much buzz around the LED prior to the release from roumors etc.

    2. Its a cheap way of modifying the car (given that it appears as nothing else have changed).

    3. All the cars we have seen have either not been driving or been having their lights off. In sweden it is compulsory with day time driving lights and I doubt that someone would think of breaking the law if nothing was to be hidden.

    Just my thoughts

  20. I am just looking at the car, and there is one way they could get the Aero X lights. the strip over the licence plate is loose – if that get changed to incorporate some LEDS…. Oh well, its to far of

  21. Conspiracy theory here:

    Saab is planting these lousy images to squeek out last-minute sales of MY07 cars before they see the official MY08 in June. My bet is once they launch is out everyone will want the 08.

    They are definitely LED pipes under there. It’s not that hard to paint the (inside) of the light panel. Just mask out what you want to paint, spray it, and voilå!

  22. Guys, if you look carefully at the last picture above, you can see grey tape around the lights to try and hide the black lines. I would also suggest that the black lines around the convertibles lights are the same as the sedans, only taken further away, they are bigger lights and it is on a dark car. Also if you recall the cgi’s it had black lines around the lights. I suggest what makes the new photo look differant is that it is taken close up and on a light coloured car. Sorry guys, but I reckon it is a sure bet that it is here to stay.

  23. I have to give the clear lights a BIG thumbs down. They kind of look like broken tail lights… missing the red layer. As is, they won’t pass US specs as there is no rear-facing red reflector on the back of the car. But they did add that to the bumper on the convertible. They would have to have it on the sedans as well.

    The reflective lens inside the tail light looks the same as the current ones which leads me to think that these will not have any LEDs. Why pay for a redesign and only alter the edges (blacked out area)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *