Saab show the 9-6x

Back in the dark old days, when GM were looking to build new Saab models on the cheap, they were thinking of building a Saab model based on the Subaru Tribeca and calling it the Saab 9-6x.

My old Saab website, Trollhattan Saab, in one of first encounters with the mysterious Djup Strupe, broke some of first imagery of that vehicle, which looked like this….

Of course, GM sold its 20% stake in Fuji Heavy Industries and the Saab 9-6x project was cancelled (as was the Saab 9-2x, which was already in production and had a few years of sales).

Fast forward to September 2009….. I visited the Saab Museum after attending the Frankfurt Motor Show and as part of that visit, Dave R and I got a tour with Peter Backstrom around the back of the Saab Museum. I showed a whole lot of photos here from that tour (see part 1 and part 2) but there was one photo I didn’t publish, at Peter’s request. Here it is….

This was one of the views that met me when we first went out the back of the museum. Considering that Saab had only ever produced sedans and sportcombis that were of normal height (aside from the 9-7x), it struck me as being a little strange that the two covered vehicles up against the wall had such high rooflines compared to the rest of the vehicles in the room.

You guessed it – the Saab 9-6x.

We did take the covers off and take a look, but I didn’t take any pictures as Peter didn’t want the cars shown. He mentioned that it would be a few years yet before it would be OK to show these in public.

It looks like Independence Day marked the occasion for the 9-6x to make a public debut. Along with a number of other vehicles from the Saab Museum storage area, the 9-6x was out on display at the factory during the celebrations.

As shown in the Tekniken’s Varld video shown here yesterday…..

Someone asked in comments if there was a rear view of the car (it wasn’t shown on the video). As it happens, our man at the Independence Day event, Dave R, snapped a photo of it.

You might have noted that there were two in the museum photo, above, and only one shown in the video.

It looks like the one in the video was the three-door model. They had both a three-door and a five-door model out the back of the museum.

The interior? From what I can remember (which was just a very quick look and in poor light) the interior of the prototype was pure Subaru Tribeca. They hadn’t fitted anything Saaby at all to the one that I saw a few years ago – but again, it’s a hazy memory.

All in all, it’s a nice addition to the Saab story and I’m glad they’ve finally got it out into the public domain.

And you lot thought I could never keep a secret!

27 thoughts on “Saab show the 9-6x”

  1. Speaking with a few at Saab Deutschland at the time of this I remember them saying it was not all bad the 9-6x got canned. The interior was very much like the Subaru as was the 9-2x.. This wasn’t Saab’s plan but the beancounters at GM.

  2. I evaluated this vehicle for a focus group session a few years back. It also had a saab instrument cluster grafted into a Subaru Tribeca interior. I didn’t think much of it. The only thing they wanted to know on the form that I filled out was if I generally liked it better than the Subie that was sitting next to it.

  3. Interesting Stephen. The contrast between the 9-6X, 9-4X and 9-5 SportCombi are startling. The 9-6X would have been so bland compared with the current offerings as to demonstrate the vanilla nature of GM’s vision for Saab.

  4. I remember thinking when the 9-6X pics popped up on the old site, “please,please don’t build it.” Saab was so ‘rudderless’ under GM. I think it speaks volumes that these photos were released during the independence celebrations….this is what could have been, just wait and see what will be…

  5. That is ghastly! Thank you VM for getting us as far as possible away from this garbage. I guess what makes me really wonder (and I find it startling that it must be true): did the folks at GM really think an Impreza, Tribeca, and a Trailblazer would really make Saab a viable premium European brand? It makes me laugh, but it was really quite sad. Could they be that ignorant? Really? Its not like they spent loads of money on our other TWO core products with short lifespans and bespoke engineering.

    The 9-4X is lightyears from this and I can’t wait for the chance to get behind the wheel of one. Thank you swade for this cautionary tale. It is something to think about when we start complaining over some small detail that isn’t perfrect to our individual eye. Look how good we have it compared to that! Kind of similar to the VW beetle that follows the Top Gear guys around as a back up if their primary car can’t go on. A lurking spectre of what might have been.

  6. Good thing GM Saab kept it secret – it’s bloody ugly. I suppose “independent” Saab doesn’t mind showing “where we’re NOT going.

  7. Seen side-by-side with the B9 TriBeCa I’d say this is the lessor two evils. When the refreshed Subaru was launched it took the headlights and rear tail work. Interesting that they showed a 3 door version. I cant think of any that are left on the market place yet when GM and Ford started the Sport Ute craze in the 80’s all the players were 3 doors including the 4runner and Pathfinder. A two door hatchback would be a very SAABy version of a CUV though. I remember reading somewhere that SAAB was only going to offer the 9-6x as a 5 seat version as the 7 seated had the rear bench either in or too close to the crumple zone.

  8. The only common traits that SAAB and SUBARU share are:

    – both have aircraft-making heritage (Fuji Heavy Industries, or FHI, as parent company of Subaru)
    – both have fairly small worldwide market shares
    – both were/are rally legends
    – both are “quirky”
    – both have an “S”, “A” *and* and “B” in their name
    – both are better off independent of each other, to not risk dilution of identity and uniqueness

  9. How do you spell Studebaker in Swedish?

    GM was the worst, and perhaps best thing to ever happen to SAAB. It kept it alive, so maybe…

    I still love Norton’s too. Alas…

  10. Whether we would have hated it or not, I do think it may have been a seller back in the day. The rear is complete Subaru, yet the front has clearly design clues of the 2008 9-3, such as the head lights. Final 9-3 design is more refined though. Same with how the grille takes a bite out of the hood, now evident in the NG 9-5 and 9-4X. I am glad that these 9-6X’s are seeing daylight though, as it really shows no design direction of GM. It’s like Hollywood, rehashing unique and original projects from abroad, and the past. Appears to be the USA way of life. That’s why this new direction of Saab excites me. I may not be able to buy a new Saab now, but no other car out there thrills me as much as my Saab does. I am about to start a 500 mile road trip this weekend and can’t wait to get on the road in my ’08 9-3SC. So I’m over and out & enjoy the Academy Awards.

  11. Wow, thank you for the photos

    Two crazy-points about that 🙂
    1.) Totally crazy that even with the background of the bad-selling 9-2X they wanted to launch another badge of Subaru. It looks very un-Saaby, good that it never hit the market.
    2.) Totally crazy that they had to develop this vehicle and GM canceld everything, even if it seems the car was nearly ready, so all investments were lost.

    Shows that GM understood nothing before the crisis…

  12. I guess it’s not a coincidence that the facelifted 2008 Tribeca looks so much like the 9-6x.

    I am of two minds regarding this car. It may be an abomination, but it’s a way better abomination than the 9-7. The 9-6x was based on a modern platform, whereas the 9-7x is a fairly direct descendant of a 1950’s Chevrolet: body-on-frame, Hotchkiss drive, pushrod small block V8.

    One good thing came out of this dark period: the product managers got justifiably ridiculed in the press and were re-assigned to other GM divisions, and the next generation of Saab cars were designed by Saab, as Saabs.

    Who knows, we may not have had a new 9-5 and a 9-4x if the 9-2x and 9-7x hadn’t been such unmitigated failures. Producing a half-decent 9-6x would maybe have encouraged GM brass to continue with badge-engineered Saabs.

  13. In the light of recent discussion here about the two versions of Saab’s 9-5 SC model’s hatch, it’s interesting to see what the Saab designers came up with in those days.
    Maybe this approach can be used for the US version of the 9-5 SC.

  14. Well, with symetrical Subis AWD, that Saab could be much better then silly 9-7X

    ps. I want to see some test between Subarus AWD and Saabs XWD. Is that XWD a real four wheel drive?

  15. Great speech from VM. “-What is better than a 99 Turbo!” It will be really exciting to see the prototype model next week. Sounds like the car will have a lot of “old” 99 Turbo CombiCoupe genetics. That would be just perfect.

  16. I’m going to swim against the current here and say that I thought it was a reasonable move at the time and although the concept is not particularly beautiful, it could have ended up as quite a reasonable car. But perhaps I’m biased; I like Subarus and I liked the 92X too. A blend for sure but a pragmatic blend when Saab was struggling for ANY new product.

    • I agree with you, PT. It was SAAB looking at whatever new product they could get given that efforts to have a proper product range were apparently blocked by GM product planning.

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