The 9-1, as designed in 2008


I have been going through trademark registrations today as I ran into those pictures. They are part of a registered design patent that GM filed in 2008. A quick check back confirmed that it shows what was referred to as “a small Saab” back then. I have some angles that I like a lot and some that I find a bit odd, but that’s no surprise with those computer drawings.

To me it looks like a 9-x Air with a roof so it is nothing all new. But it is a nice thing to look at, not only on a Monday.

Read moreThe 9-1, as designed in 2008

Photoshopping a small Saab – Aussie style

It’s exciting for me as a Saab enthusiast that there is so much interest in the brand. I’ve shown a number of photoshopped efforts for new Saabs in the last 6 months and there are still more coming into my inbox.

Those drawings are typically from Europe, close to Saab itself. Interest isn’t confined to the continent, however. These drawings have come to me from a young designer named Adam Dean Smith, who lives right here in Australia.


I am a designer from Australia and a big Saab fan!

Recently I had a go at what I thought a Saab 91 would maybe look like. As a premium Mini or MiTo competitor, I thought the Saab 91 named “Sonic” would take cues from the popular Aexo X concept from 2006.

The package would be as a 3-door and 5-door hatch, a coupe, a convertible, a XWD versions.

The interior is inspired by fighter-jet cockpits. The driver focused design of the interior offers excitement and a real point of difference to other premium small cars. Features include HUD (heads up display), touch screen display on the steering wheel featuring fingerprint security entry, etc.

One day I’d love to work for the Saab design studio.


I hope you enjoy Adam’s work. Click to enlarge.

BMW going front-wheel-drive…….with Saab?

Earlier in the week I posted an article from Pete De Lorenzo, the auto extremist, where he criticised BMW’s lack of focus on what they do best – the creation of the supposed Ultimate Driving Machine.

Pete is frothing at the mouth now that they’ve announced they’re going to jump into the FWD small car segment.

In the future, we will generate growth both in the large model segments and in the compact and sub-compact model segments. We will launch more MINI and BMW models and variants – also in the small car segment. This segment is expected to grow further. And we will take advantage of this opportunity. We are exploring the possibility of developing a joint architecture for the front and four-wheel drive systems of these cars. In other words: There will be front-wheel drive BMWs in the smaller vehicle classes in the future. We all know that the cost structure in the small car segment is different from that of the larger model classes. We intend to grow profitably in this segment as well.

That’s BMW’s Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, commenting at their annual Accounts Press Conference a few days ago.

BMW have already moved into turbocharging with incredibly good results and are now looking to go small and FWD. This is an ominous sign.

But Auto Motor and Sport in Sweden tend to think that Saab may just join up with them on the development of this smaller platform. I’m not totally sure about this theory given how Saab see themselves as such direct competition for BMW, but AMS have recently written the following (Googletrans):

In addition to their own models BMW are also seeking partners to share the cost of the new platform. Under development head Klaus Draeger for one discussions with various partners but named them no closer. Draeger on the other hand admitted that “it is natural to talk with their current partners only,” which in this case means that the PSA group (Peugeot and Citroen), which already has a long-standing co-production of engines and transmissions.

Klaus Draegers information on external partners for the new platform can also throw a new light on the persistent rumors that Saab and BMW negotiated collaborations. In Saab’s current businessplan there is no financial leeway for a “9-1” but it is no secret that management is keen to supplement their model range with a smaller car. It is also rumored that Saab is negotiating the purchase of diesel engines from BMW for its European version of the SUV-model 9-4X. This could be a first clear move away from dependence on GM’s powertrains.

I didn’t realise there were such persistant rumours going around.

As I said, it seems like a longshot, but BMW are definitely heading that way and it’s a segment that Saab would like to get into as well. Maybe they’ve got some technology out in the back shed that could entice the big Bavarian into letting them play in their sandbox.

It’ll be one to watch with interest.


Thanks to Jan for the AMS tip.

More Saab 9-1 photoshopping – this time by big boys

Just how far ahead of the curve are the punters here at Saabs United????
Weeks after we came through with renditions of a proposed Saab 9-1, the bigger magazines are now showing an illustration that was sent to them.
Both Car and Driver and Motor Authority are running this one with their own respective watermarks over it.
Both articles refer to Saab’s wishes to have a model in this segment and C&D even go so far as to refer to VM’s vision of a Saab 92-inspired vehicle, despite the fact that this rendering looks nothing like that.
It’s a nice effort, though, and something I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing in the metal. I’ll still take one of Jeff’s efforts from a few weeks ago, though.

More Saab 9-1 photochops

Saab Design and potential 9-1 or 9-2 design seems to be the flavour of the month right now, which is fine with me as I love seeing what you creative people can come up with.
TM has just sent me some sketches, which are based on an Audi A1. The simple rationale for this is Spyker’s existing relationship with Audi (they use Audi engines in the C8) and the fact that the A1 could be considered as a suitable size for platform use (and please don’t get overly analytical about that. It’s not that crucial).
What is more important are the thoughts behind what you see here. I’ll let TM explain:

The two sketches are based on the sketches of the A1 … so I don`t hold full credit for the drawings, but I tried my best to keep in mind all the advice I received the last time.
So let`s see: The front has 99, 2001-9x concept, and AeroX in it.The side has door that go all the way down as the c900, and the back- something between c900 and NG900 stoplights among other things.

And here they are. I quite like both angles…..
9-1 front.jpg
9-1 back.jpg
Thanks to TM for sending these in.
You can view TM’s previous work here and here.
Remember, if it’s not to your taste, be polite and appreciate that someone’s gone to the trouble of doing it anyway. Thanks.

Ugly Saab 9-1 and beautiful Saab historical at Autobild

I’ve received a few emails about this one and I think it’s made an appearance in comments today already, but what the heck.
Given all the talk about a new smaller Saab, Autobild thought they’d get one of their digital artists to go to work on it. I know Victor Muller would be looking to woo Mini drivers, but this would be rediculous!
Now, having seen that, you’re probably thinking why would I want to click through and read more at Autobild?
Well, that image is just #1 of an 81 page history pictorial. There’s a lot of great Saab stock photography and a few I hadn’t seen before, too. The blue Saab 900 is a cracker!
So… if you’ve got 10 minutes to kill, click on through.

Wednesday Snippets – Toyota edition

I’m posting this as a follow-up to a piece I wrote about the Toyota situation here in Australia last week.
In that post, I wrote about the unsatisfactory responses I’d received from Toyota PR about the situation with accelerator pedals here in Australia. They said the recall didn’t matter because pedals used in Australian cars were manufactured at a different plant. I countered saying if it’s a global design, then the point of manufacture didn’t matter as it is the design that’s the problem.
They didn’t answer for a full 4 or 5 days, until today, when they pointed me to a website they’ve setup here in Australia with some FAQs, including the following:

Why are Toyota vehicles sold in Australia not affected by the recall announced overseas?
Accelerator pedals for Toyota vehicles sold in Australia, and those manufactured in Australia for export, are provided by a different supplier to another design.

I’m not planning on following that up any further, but I’d love to see the results if someone did.
Speaking of Toyota, they’re still all over the news services and despite efforts like this editorial in the Washington Post from Akio Toyoda himself (he’s the prez), it’s just not looking good. I’m not a fan of Toyota at all, but this is a massive motoring story with plenty of lessons to be learned.
First there were floor mat recalls, then the accelerator pedal recalls. Now they’re recalling the 2010 Prius and Lexus HS250H for faulty brakes, there are reports coming through that it may also apply to earlier Prius model years, too, and your mobile phone may be in danger of interfering with steering your late model Corolla. There are criticisms of the US Govt committee that’s been set up to look into all this as many of them have rather deep Toyota connections and as if that wasn’t enough, Toyota are now thinking of having to change their way their push-button-start systems operate in order for them to respond adequately to a panic situation.
Imagine having to respond every day to an overwhelmingly critical press?
I take no joy or satisfaction from Toyota now having to face media criticism like Saab have had from the Swedish press for 12 months. It’s just an interesting set of circumstances to watch unfold.
It’s a delicate time for Toyota to say the least and whilst some US writers are quietly dancing a little jig, I think they should be mindful of the fact that if and when Toyota come out of this, their transparent approach could lead them to being stronger than ever in terms of customer appreciation.
They’ve got a long road to hoe, but if they do it right…..
The Saab-9-1-of-the-future benchmark from that other German company has just been unveiled online ahead of its physical unveiling at Geneva next month – it’s the Audi A1.
This does not excite me one little bit, I have to say.
And speaking of the potential for the Saab 9-1……. there was a link to an Auto Motor and Sport video of the 9-X BioHybrid and Saab 9-4x in comments yesterday.
Anyone notice how long that 9-X BioHybrid is? It was huge.
$5000 and you can hit 200mph.
Ezra Dyer just did it.

New Saab 9-3 due in 2012: Muller

Ignace, the guy who provided the “Saab Saved” image for the announcement of the sale of Saab, has forwarded a translation of a quick interview of Victor Muller by
The big takeaway here is a firm commitment to deliver an all-new Saab 9-3 in 2012.
The link. The translation:
Masterpiece or just hot air?
AutoWeek spoke with Victor Muller this morning to speak with the person in the leading role of this (fairy)tale.
The take-over of Saab has risen many questions. Victor Muller will shed some light on the business-plan.
“In our plans for the upcoming years are three cars; – the 9-5, – the 9-4X and the 9-3. The 9-3 will be introduced in 2012 and it is a very important car to become profitable. Contrary to what analysts say, no extra funding is needed to make the 9-3 ready for production.”
In the TV-interview yesterday evening with Pauw & Witteman, Muller criticised the management by GM. By using Opel platforms, Saab models of the past years were a bit bland. The question arises: how should it be done instead?
“The next few years we will use GM-technology, and it still is too early to say what we will do after that. Maybe we will knock on the doors of other manufacturers, or maybe we will choose for GM. But it is also possible that we will develop a platform ourselves.”
Finally; what can we expect after the 9-3 ?
“I would love to see a small, waterdrop-shaped car being developed, the 9-1. But we would need extra investors for that. Saab used to be in the absolute frontline within GM when it comes to alternative technology, so you can expect that we will have a lot of news in the future when it comes to alternative technology.”
When we ask Muller about how he sees Saab in 10 years, he is very clear:
“Like a premium brand that has its own face that has earned its place between BMW and Audi.”
The other interesting part of this is the goodbye given to the Saab 9-X Biohybrid concept car as a potential Saab 9-1. When it was first shown in Geneva in March 2008, the Saab 9-X Biohybrid was described by Bob Lutz as being a potential Saab 9-1, if Saab were ever going to produce it.
Muller has said here, and elsewhere, that he’s interested in a 9-1 that’s more inspired by some of Saab’s earlier models.
That does leave the Saab 9-X Air a little stranded, however. Where the hardtop version was warmly received, the chop-top version was an absolute killer. I can’t imagine they’d leave that by the roadside, however, and would expect the design theory behind the 9-X Air to be brought into play for the 2012 Saab 9-3.

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