In 1984 Saab had its first 100,000 car year. Achieved in large part to one of its most successful cars ever to come off the production line, the 900. The 900 was so successful that from 1978 to 1997 and two generations of this model, Saab manufactured and sold 1,182,378 of them.
The first generation was built between 78-93, a fifteen year life span and the second between 93-97.
In 1984 we saw the introduction of the 16 valve DOHC B202 engine which had hydraulic valve lifters and a pre-heated catalytic converter for reduced emissions and a top speed of 210km/h or 130mph with 175hp back in 1984.
Saab definitely had some performance in this car back in 84 and a lot of forward thinking too. I know fifteen years seems like a long run for a production car and it is but it was the 7 year of production before it had a 100,000 unit year and it continued to sell well after 84.
In 1985 Saab took a step into the future with the SAAB EV-1, not to be confused with the GM EV-1 as this was its own model and GM had yet to enter the Saab picture although the EV-1 did have seats from the Corvette. The EV-1 was ahead of it’s time in many respects and had a top speed of 270km/h and did 0-100 in 5.9 seconds. Most parts came from the 900 turbo and the car had 66 solar cells mounted in the glass roof panel that helped with the cooling system in the car. The EV-1 was even seen in the background of the movie Back To The Future II.
Also we can’t forget that as far as GM goes, their EV-1 didn’t come to be until 1996 so they just stole our name.
1987 was the next big year for SAAB with worldwide sales exceeding 134,000 units and with vehicles like the 900, 9000 and convertible models.
The 1987 Saab 9000 was the first front wheel drive car to offer ABS brakes.
The 900 was still the first generation and had now been in production for nine years and still selling quite well.
Saab was at this point looking like a company that was moving in the right direction and was making money.
Two years later in 1989 GM bought 50% of Saab for $600 million USD. While working with GM we saw Saab sharing technology with GM and the GM brand was becoming better and they gained a lot from being partnered with SAAB. Funny to see years later GM not wanting to share at all.
1999 Saab sales were 131200 worldwide with the 9-3 which was launched in in 1998 and the 9-5 launched in 1997.
In 2000 GM bought the rest of Saab for $125 million. GM has had a habit of making many cars off of one platform which is meant to help control costs but also makes for cars that directly compete with each other. Saab was no different and over the years we would see more and more GM in Saabs then ever before. The 9-5 shared similarities with the Saturn L series and at least three different Opels, the 9-3 with Chevy’s and Opel’s.
In no way am I saying that GM was only bad for Saab because they did put a lot of money into the Saab factory but it would appear that they bought Saab and the IP and then when they sold the company, they held on to the IP that was so critical and were not open to working with new partners which doesn’t sit well with me when you consider what they got from such a partnership in the past.
If you look at the years highlighted in here, 84-87 without GM, Saab had some tremendous success and sold themselves on being a car for drivers in any condition and a company ahead of the curve when it came to innovations. I do believe we can be all of that again.