CarQuiz 45: Saab Sadness

As I am writing this, Saab is literally falling apart. My compatriot at the helm Victor Muller is seeing the foundations of the company, built on solid chunks of Carlsson, Blomqvist, Viggen, Iconic Turbo and 2-Stroke V4, coming apart at the seams. Memories from Childhood passenger rides in Saab Turbo’s, of that amazing brand image and of the “black-panel” display in the 9-3 that I ran for a while are all making me rather sentimental. I bet it’s the same for many of you. As another iconic brand is biting the dust, I’m left reminiscing about the seemingly great things that were on offer in the past by now defunct brands.

Look mum, just like a McLaren F1!

The three seater sportscar! Where did it go? A lifetime of being dragged across France on holidays has firmly imprinted the Matra Murena in my memory as something completely desirable. Was having three seats in a row really that bad an idea for a mid/rear engined car?

I hold those same parents entirely responsible for my complete adoration of cars in a segment that is very hard to describe. In my mind I call them “Espadrille cars”. Off course the manufacturers of the main protagonists in the market niche: the Citroën Mehari and the Renault Rodeo are still very much alive but I’m not so sure about the Mega Tjaffer/ Ranch producer of more recent days.

Try saying this in your best Captain Bertorelli accent: “Aaaah, V12’s are for pussies! Real

whadda mistaika to maika!

men need a V16!”. This must be a close approximation of Giorgio Moroder’s thought process when he kicked off the Cizeta V16 project. And wasn’t he just a bit right? Don’t we all need a bit of V16 in our lives?

Final example: Innocenti Mini. Take a normal mini, get it restyled by Bertone and bring it to market with a brand 100 times cooler than British Leyland and jobs a good’un one would think. The fact that BL went bankrupt within a year of launch may prove otherwise but I take solace from the fact that De Tomaso kept the model alive until 1993.

Many of you may by now realise there are reasons why I’m not a huge big shot in the automotive industry. Off-course all of the above examples are seriously flawed in one way or another, no doubt aiding to some extent in the downfall of their manufacturers. But by Jove do I love them! And when I walked up that street yesterday and spotted that 9-3 Viggen, I knew full well this was far from a perfect car. My heart still jumped though and for that moment there was no other car in the world that I wanted more. Goodbye Saab.

Perfect? No. Want? Certainly.