Saab Design Question

Think back 20 years or so, those of you who can, to when you saw a Saab for the first time. It might have been a 99 or a 900. Some of you older guys will probably think it was a 96 or something even older. My guess is that for the most part, people’s first Saab sighting would be of a 900.

Now. Answer honestly. How many of you thought it looked kinda funny?

The reason I got so absorbed into Saab certainly didn’t stem from looking at them. It came from that first drive I had in one. Until that first drive, I just figured they were for rich, pretentious types who figured a real Aussie car was a below their station. Prejudiced as I was back in my 20s, it wasn’t until I got to ride in one that I figured there was some substance behind them.

I learned to love the designs as years went by. It wasn’t until some time later that I really appreciated the fact that the 900 was a somewhat timeless design that still looked fantastic years after it ceased production.

I got to thinking about this last night as I pondered what I thought were some rather unkind comments about a recent SOTW entry. It was EHall’s Saab 9-5, a 2007 model in white. It struck me as I was thinking about these how the facelift on the Saab 9-5 has really grown on me now. I still think there’s certain colors that suit it much better than others, but overall, I think this look is starting to really grown on me.

2007 Saab 9-5

It’s all a matter of personal preference, of course, but I wonder if this is another one of those Saab designs that’s going to stand the test of time. Perhaps it’ll be much more appreciated in 2012 than what it is now.

What will we all think in five years from now when we look back and compare, say, a 2007 Saab 9-5 and a 2007 Saab 9-3 when it comes to exterior design?

Just a thought. But Edna, you’re fine by me.

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  1. I really don’t have a gripe with the exterior design of the 9-5, but the interior. For the 9-5 going on 9 years?, it looks pretty good.

  2. I personally love the new 9-5. I finally saw one in person today (I was beginning to wonder if they really existed outside of the interwebs) and it looks even better.

    I. Want. One.

  3. I have always loved the Mk1 stage 3 (what is it called) 9-5. I would happily be driving the 2005 model around. it would be black or white. just like the original 9-5, to me they all look great.

  4. The first Saab I ever saw (that I can remember at all) is the car I’m driving now, an NG900. It was also the second time I’d ever even heard the word “Saab.” The first was when I was reading about the Gripen in a book on jet fighters.

    I like the new 9-5 and I have since I first saw it…

  5. funny enough, the only thing that worries me about the next gen 9-5 is that i like the CGIs, and i have from the start.

    with the exception of the Aero X, i tend to find instant attraction leads to boredom, sooner rather than later. it’s the designs that have to grow on me a bit, that i really end up appreciating over the long run.

  6. HA! Glad to hear you’re all coming around. I always knew this thing was fantastic looking. I’ve already come around on the new 9-3’s snout, which I wasn’t such a fan of a few weeks ago. Those rear tail lights on the sedan though…only a mother could love those…

  7. The precise reason my grandfather bought his first Saab, a 1978 99 Turbo back around 1980, was because of its unique look. He asked the salesman at the dealer, “how much is that funny lookin’ car over there?” Now try to imagine that with a Boston accent (my grandfather was originally from Lawrance, Massachusetts). 🙂

  8. The latest version of the 9-5 is growing on me as well. You can immediately recognize one when it’s heading towards you from farther away than any other Saab, especially because of it’s Xenon lights. (It seems I developed a “Saab” radar in the last few years, I can almost sense them without looking 🙂 The latest 9-5 must be one of the most reliable Saabs as it’s technology has been perfected through 3 generations and 9 years. When it’s time to find a successor for my 2001 9-5, the 2006 – 2008 are highest on my list. They are the last 9-5s coming out of Trollhattan for a long time.

  9. “Now. Answer honestly. How many of you thought it looked kinda funny?” -Swade

    Me! *hands raised*

    I was 7 or so, and the ancient couple across the street had a pair of Swede’s in the driveway. A 900 and some Ovlov. One seemed a dingy rusty red color, and the other was a dingy denim blue. When they drove home, it looked like they were arriving for an uglies contest — the cars, not the couple! This was in NY, and strangely the rest of the street was lined with Civics, Corollas, and Ford Escorts. Imagine, this was 1988-ish. Yeah, those Scan-cars looked odd. What sticks out to me was the loover/rear spoiler on the 900 and the strange headrests inside the Ovlov.

    Next time I ever noticed a Saab was when I was researching my car to buy in 2005, which turned out to be the 9-2x. I’d never really seen other Saab’s on the road, but I’ve turned into a Saab-radar detector. We drive down the road and I bust out with “There’s a 9-5,” or “Look! An OG9-3 — No wait that is a NG900!” while pointing ferociously with my entire arm. When I see other Saabers, I smile. I get that grin, and think, “yeah, they Get It!”

  10. Swade you had to ask “What will we all think in five years from now when we look back and compare, say, a 2007 Saab 9-5 and a 2007 Saab 9-3 when it comes to exterior design?”. My answer, you asked for it, in the first instance not an awful lot as it looks downmarket (being polite here, believe me!) when you compare it to a BMW5 or Merc E-class. On the second example the template for the gorgeous 08 9-3!!

    What did I think when I saw my first Saab, a 1980 Saab 99 or early 900? It was a deep purple-black colour and I thought, dare I say this, quirky!?

  11. Great topic. I was 20 yrs old in 1977, and whilst visiting Luxembourg I somehow finagled my first job in publishing—a magazine in Luxembourg. The publisher of the magazine drove a silver car unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I rode with him to various newsworthy events in it, sometimes hitting the autobahns in Germany. His driving and the speeds involved scared me to death at the time, but man, I thought the looks of that car—a 99— were brilliant. Ever since then I’d lusted after the 99’s and its successors. Finally, in 2001—a mere 25 years later, I got my hands on my first 93, a base model. I upgraded to the new model 93—an Aero— 3 years later, then upgraded again 3 yrs later—several months ago—to my dream car. I love the cars, will drive them forever (unless GM ruins them;-), but somehow I see my car through the powerful filter of the 99/900’s. Like many, I find it just impossible to get the looks of those cars out of my head.

  12. As a Swede, I have seen Saab’s all my life. When I was a little kid, the only thing I knew was that a car should look like a car. And that was like a Volvo 140 or 240. The reason was probably because there were so many of them. My father owned a Volvo and it was the best car in the world! 🙂 Of course there were lot’s of Saab’s, but they were still a little odd compared to Volvo, Ford, VW, Opel… Saab had a kind of mysterious glow about it, and I knew they were involved in motorsport. I do remember when the 900 Turbo arrived. It just looked mean! My best friend had a friend who’s father bought one and oh the stories about how fast it could go!

    When I was a teenager I started to be very interested in cars, especially design. Saab were more exciting because they had their own style. The 900 was OK. Sometimes it looked good, sometimes not. The 9000 looked more modern in my eyes. Then one late November evening after I got my drivers license I drove my first Saab: a 99 EMS. It was even more weird inside than outside! But something happened, and I was sold. After that, Saab was just good looking in my eyes and I knew I had to own one. Which I did. 🙂

    “It struck me as I was thinking about these how the facelift on the Saab 9-5 has really grown on me now.”

    Interesting. The same for me. 2 years ago it looked horrible. 1 year ago I was getting used to see it all around, but still… No. Just a sorry chapter in Saab design history. Today, I seriously think of buying a new one instead of a new 9-3. I looks so good in black or silver! And the dashboard of course. I have my thing for dashboards.

    Note: My father owned Volvo’s for over 50 years. In 2006 he finally got fed up with the bad quality the brand developed, and bought a Mexican built VW. And he is one very happy owner. 🙂

  13. I must’ve been 5, and my dad’s friend had just gotten himself a new Saab 99. Walking up the parking to his friend’s home, my dad commented to me that he didn’t like Saab’s coz of the over sized head rest (sic) 😛
    I remember the headrests too, as he did mention them, but I also remember noting the rounded windscreen, in an era when most cars (i.e Volvo, Fiat etc) had all but flat windscreens.
    This was in 1975.

  14. I think the design is fine. Chrome was not the best choice but it looks ok. I’ve ordered me MY 08 9-5 aero sportcombi in parchment silver through military sales. I expect to get it in May 2008, a little post-war gift to myself.

  15. i dont think its fair to compare the new 9-5 to the c900. i think some of the looks of the c900 are due to the features of the car, and some not.. whereas nowadays the looks of cars are just that, looks…

  16. I reckon it’s the automotive design equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor. Same old shit underneath, only with more plastic and brightwork.

    I reckon Saab are really flogging a dead horse with the facelifted 9-5. An entirely new car is badly needed.


  17. I would have to say I prefer the MY07 9-3 over the 9-5, but that isn’t to say I don’t like the 9-5. I would say the refreshed 9-5 has a more progressive look than the 9-3 and i believe it was necessary for Saab to put out to explore future design ideas.

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