On the final day of the Saab Festival, and sixty years to the day since the first Saab 92 protoypes were unveiled, I was invited to take a look into what is so far an untold piece of Saab’s beginnings.
We’ve all heard that Saab began as an offshoot of an aviation company and that sixteen of the company’s staff were assigned to this new project. We know that Gunnar Ljungstrom was in charge of this project but very little is known about the other men involved and what they did to build the nucleus of a car company.
One of these men was identified to me in this visit that I had to a house in suburban Trollhattan. The story will hopefully be published one day so I won’t (and can’t) cover much of it here. But the central character of the story was the subject of an 8 hour interview back in the 1990’s, where he told his story. He’s since passed away, so his story now rests in very careful hands.
The guy we’re talking about here was the man primarily responsible for establishing the manufacturing processes at Saab when they took on the task of manufacturing automobiles, no small task when you’re starting completely from scratch. His writings about some of the processes were later used in some official publications but the man himself has never been recognised, nor has the full extent of his work. I was able to view some photos of the first jigs and mouldings used to press panels for cars from the Saab 92 right up to the Saab 96.
One of the things that I love about Saab is the fact that it started in such humble circumstances and “grew” to become a company that wasn’t huge, but contributed huge things to motoring as we know it today. Given that Saab started so small, I tend to think that the history’s really important to preserve. There’s no big archiving section within the company even today, and much of the history that hasn’t been told is sitting in indirectly related places, such as that house in Trollhattan.
It’s a story worth telling and I hope that if and when Saab are approached to help out with it, that they can assist.