By Rod Ward
First, should it be spelled SAAB or Saab? Like the names of Daf and Fiat, previous Auto Review subjects, SAAB began as an abbreviation, expressed in capital letters, but it later became formalised as a word in itself, as Saab. The ‘Saab’ title was in general usage after the Second World War, so we use ‘Saab’ throughout this publication for matters after 1944. Here we tell the story of a Swedish company which had its roots in the aviation industry. The first part of this publication is devoted to Saab aircraft from the 1930s to more recent years. Then we go on to Saab cars from 1946 to the 21st century, with all the twists, turns and changes of ownership en route. For almost three decades, from 1968 to 1995, Saab was merged with the Scania-Vabis commercial vehicle company. In the third part of this publication, therefore, we also look at Scania; before, during, and after the period in which it was connected to Saab.
Saab cars have always had their keen adherents, though in more recent years colleagues in the motor trade declared that Saab convertibles were ‘hairdressers’ cars’. That was not a image shared by makers of British television cop shows, however. They saw a Saab as a tougher proposition; Detective Superintendent Pullman drove a Saab 9-3 convertible in New Tricks, Detective Superintendent Dalziel drove a Saab 900 turbo in Dalziel and Pascoe, and Detective Inspector Rebus in the eponymous novels and TV series drove a Saab 900, though it was rather old and tired, like its owner. We will see what the perception of Saab cars becomes in future years.