Road and Track show Saab’s unbuilt future

Road and Track magazine has spoken with Jason Castriota and got just a little detail and a few images of some of the cars that were envisioned for Saab’s future.

They were not certainties, by any means. Saab didn’t have the money to develop this full portfolio. The company would have needed investment partners to do so. But these three images, not all of them new, show some of the potential that was waiting to be harnessed within the company.

Saab 9-3

This has been shown before but it’s worth seeing again.

It’s always interesting to see how a car’s design stands the test of time. A design’s acceptance seems to evolve as people get to see it more. The Dame Edna 9-5 is a great example of this. I was in two minds about this design when I first saw it but it looks fantastic in this rendering. I’m still a little unconvinced about the back end, but I know from experience that it would look better in the metal than it does in pictures.

SAAB9-3concept01-sm

Saab 9-1

The small car segment was one that that Victor desperately wanted to be in. He had his own design based on Saab’s traditional teardrop shape, but the 9-1 below is much closer to what we would have seen if this segment were ever tackled by Saab.

I’m not convinced by the lights, but the overall proportions look good to me.

SAAB9-1Concept01-sm

Saab Sonett

This would have been my personal holy grail and the closest direct descendent from the original PhoeniX concept. It’s interesting to note that Jason was aiming at a 400hp top specification, which is a little out of whack with the Sonett’s origins (small engine, light weight) but would have made for a hell of an interesting drive.

SAABSonnet01-sm

Saab’s demise still burns. There’s no point stewing over it but I do.

When I was working for Saab, I wrote (in one evening) a six-part series covering all the things that I thought Saab had going for it as a company. The one thing I didn’t write about was in-house cash, of course, because Saab didn’t really have any. But we did have a hell of a lot going for us and it’s a damn shame we never got to see it all happen.

The obstacles that got in Saab’s way – some institutional and some of Saab’s own making – denied all of us what I think would have been a very enjoyable automotive future.

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28 Comments

  1. Not a day passes that I don’t find myself muttering “I love this car” upon disembarking on my second SAAB, a 9-0 2OT convertible in Nocturne Blue. I do. It’s a fabulous and fun car. There was so much potential here, and the loss of this company (in its true form, not sure about NEVS yet) still saddens me.

    I do my best to preserve and maintain the SAAB that I have, and have come to terms with the fact that no other car company moves me like SAAB did- pun intended.

    Life certainly goes on, but I will always have a soft spot for SAAB.

    1. No idea, Roland. I haven’t spoken with Victor for some time now. I wouldn’t hold my breath on a successful outcome, however. What GM did might be considered amoral (at best) or immoral (at worst) by many who care, I’d find it hard to see how a US court will deem it illegal for them to protect their intellectual property that way.

  2. *Sigh*
    Man, I’d like to see the back of the Sonett. C900:ish and it would have sold like… (yes, that) in Sweden, UK, N.A. and China.

  3. Swade, did you see Jörgen Trued’s comment on that Road and Track online article? He says that those 9-1 and Sonett designs are something that Jason did after Saab’s bankruptcy and were not part of the work Saab had “in the books” for future plans. Not sure if that matters at this point, but if true, it’s interesting that Jason spent more time on the designs even once it was not something that would ever be used.

    1. Jorgen is not the font of all knowledge, despite representations he might make. I’m quite sure Jason kept working on finishing these after the bankruptcy, 9-3 included, but I’m also quite sure that the 9-1 and Sonett were both sketched out in good detail before the bankruptcy, too. Remember, Saab were trying to sell a future to potential investors at the time. That future would have included future model plans.

      And no, Saab didn’t have them “in the books” or confirmed as future models because Saab didn’t have the money to make them. But they had a definite desire to find partners and put them on the books in the future – especially the 9-1.

    1. Nice to hear from you, big fella.

      Maybe you can shed some light on Roland’s question, above, on the case against GM? Are you still considering it or has it gone by the wayside?

      I miss working for you, by the way. I miss it a LOT. I’d give my left testi to get those days back with a different outcome.

  4. Let’s hope NEVS nurses Saab back to being a viable automaker for it to be either sold to an owner more respectable than NEVS, or be floated on the stock exchange. I would be pleased to buy its stocks.

  5. I know what you mean about the 9-5 ‘Series 3’. (I hate the Dame Edna tag!)
    Now it seems the car has real presence on the road and it certainly grows on you the more you see it.
    The second face-lift for a model run is often fatally flawed but it is quite weird how the ’07 onwards cars grab your eye in the traffic. Maybe it is just the face thing that a car needs and that everything else on the road is so bland these days.
    The Phoenix shape looks better and better evry time I see it.

  6. We filed the appeal in the GM case on October 1st last so it is ongoing. Did you really think i would throw in the towel? Miss you all too.cheers,Vic

  7. The 9-3 is my least favourite of the three. It seems heavy and over-detailed. Perhaps that was an attempt to make it more “substantial.” I can see that being a plus when competing against the German brands.

    I love the rear-end treatment on the 9-1, and the front-end treatment on the Sonett. Together, they make one great looking car.

    Overall, I do wonder about space efficiency. Jason mentions longer wheelbases and shorter overhangs, but the front clip still seems eight inches too long. We’ve seen that before at Saab, where vacant space was left at the front for a V6 that nobody ordered, but the boot was six inches too short to hold a bookcase/sofa/elk/bedframe.

    1. Bernard, thanks for pointing out that there were more pics in the Road and Track article. I feel like complete idiot now 😉 but I agree. The 9-1 is fine. Sonett on the other hand a bit too bland (Toyota) for my taste.

    2. Unfortunately all new cars seem to be looking heavy due to the pedestrian safety rules causing the front of cars to be higher which translates to higher door sills and smaller side windows. 🙁

  8. Thanks vic for ng9-5.
    br, happy driver one of those extremely beautiful cars. Small things to improve but I prefer it over german competition.

    1. Same here!
      Went to frankfurt to watch the ng 9-5 at the premiere.
      We decides right there: if saab survives gm, we will spend money!
      At that time I had no idea that I would buy the car from VM!

  9. I would have been interested in the 9-1 or the Sonett, or even the 9-3 replacement if it had gained a 3 door version. One of them (I hope) would have been my first new Saab. Alas none of them were to be. My next car will likely not be a Saab although I will hopefully come back a bit further down the track. I bought my first Saab in November ’87 and apart from an 16 month period from mid ’90 to late ’91 (a working holiday overseas), I have owned Saabs ever since.

    Good Luck Victor. I hope you get some kind of win.

  10. They’re all gorgeous! I especially love that rear 3/4 top view of the Sonnett – is that a sneaky little flying buttress I see? Imagine following any of those cars down the street – wow, just wow! Well done JC, VM et al. These beautiful designs deserve to be turned into reality.

  11. What could have been , better yet what should be … , Great looking cars to be , from the mind of a great designer . Thanks for the look .

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