Home » People My Age Don’t Know What Saab Is And It Hurts

People My Age Don’t Know What Saab Is And It Hurts

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Good day, Autopian friends. I’m back for the weekend and here to start our time together with a devastating story. Yes, that’s right, I’m here to tell a sob story. Excuse me, I meant to say, Saab story. You be crying tears of frustration, sadness, and nostalgia hopefully at the end of your reading.

I own a shirt that I ordered from blipshift.com, a crowd-sourced website for car shirts, apparel, and stickers. The shirt is bright red with a Saab 900 stamped across the middle. Right below the 900 is “STORY” spelled out in big bold letters. Take a peek:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Swede Dreams Insta Grande


I wore this shirt the other day to class for the first time in months. I forgot I owned it. I figured people would point to me and say with a chuckle, “Oh, haha, I get it. Saab’s story is like a sob story! Because they’re gone!” That certainly didn’t happen; quite the opposite did.


A classmate of mine came up to me between our orchestra rehearsals and inquired about the shirt’s meaning. I said, “It’s a Saab story because the downfall of Saab is a sob story in my books.” He looked at me puzzled and asked, “What’s a Saab?” I said in confusion, “Huh?” He was like, “I’ve never heard of that before.” I was mesmerized.

This was a kid who had heard of Polestar and the glorious Volvo V70R but had no idea what Saab was. I couldn’t believe it! Then it got me thinking; do people my age know about Saab?

Images Saab 900 1987 1
Photo: Saab

I asked some of my friends, who can’t tell a Civic apart from a Diablo if they were familiar with “Saab.” I got a mixture of responses, some including:

“Is that a type of chicken?”

“I sobbed yesterday during my Calc test.”


“It sounds Swedish” (this was the closest one.)

As an aspiring teacher, let me practice educating you all, my readers, on a brief history of Saab’s mangled past. Saab began life in 1937 in Trollhättan, Sweden, as an airplane manufacturer to provide planes for the Swedish Air Force, just as Europe was steeling itself for another war. The company’s full name was Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, giving the world the acronym Saab. Try saying that four times in a row!

Saab 92 1950 Images 1
Photo: Saab Archive

The very first Saab car project was known as Project 92, hence where the model, 9-2 emerged from. Saab produced many cars throughout the 20th century, and by the 1980s some of its turbocharged models competed with the likes of BMW. General Motors took a 50% share of Saab in 1989 and eventually made it a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2000.

I was born in 2003, the year Britney Spears received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the year General Motors introduced the “mighty” Chevy SSR. [Editor’s note: Mighty, huh? Who wants to tell him? —PG] But the 2000s were really Saab’s last hurrah. Even in that decade, many of its cars started to unceremoniously blur with various other GM products, resulting in at least one bizarre but generally well-respected team-up with Subaru too.

Saab 9 7x 2006 1600 02
Pictured: Something that didn’t help

Sadly, when GM began to decline in 2008, so did Saab. Later Saabs still had the old-school Swedish charms like the night panel and center console ignition, but were plagued with the problems and interior quality issues GM was known for at the time. Eventually, GM sold Saab off to supercar manufacturer Spyker, which was unable to revive Saab, resulting in a filing for bankruptcy in 2011.


For years, the brand has been owned by a Chinese group called National Electric Vehicle Sweden, or NEVS, but it’s apparently defunct as of this year. NEVS spent about a decade not doing much with the Saab brand, which considering the booming Chinese auto industry these days seems like a massively missed opportunity. As a car manufacturer, it’s functionally dead these days. 

Photos Saab 9 3 2008 12
Photo: Saab or GM or NEVS or someone, it’s unclear

I was in third grade when Saab filed for bankruptcy, learning my multiplication tables (nine, 18, 27, 36—still got it, baby) at the time. I didn’t even know what a bank account was, let alone the meaning of bankruptcy. I bet most of you are like, this kid’s that young? Get him out of here, he doesn’t know enough about Model T’s, Dusenbergs, Buick Park Avenues, or whatever old people cars you all drive. 

But I can at least respect my elders. More than most, in fact. And I may be young, but I can still lament the death of Saab as much as any modern enthusiast. It just makes me sad that any memory of this brand, any real nostalgia for it, is starting to vanish. Besides whatever 2000s kids grew up riding in Saabs owned by their parents at the time, any love for this now-very-dead brand is going to come through internet weirdness, and that only goes so far. Saab has now gone from a brand whose possible resurrection was cheered on by various editors of The Autopian once to the modern equivalent of AMC or Scout. That sure stings.

Saab Mixed Wallpapers 2
Photo: Saab

Anyways, as a huge Saab fan, I encourage all of my fellow Gen Z-ers to go out there and find a Saab. Don’t be like my friends! Familiarize yourself with Saab. They are magnificent Swedish works of art and deserve all of the love they can get. Find it and send me a picture with three fun facts. Perhaps you might win a prize.

A prize of recognition, as there is no Saab merch to give out anymore.


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Leo T.
Leo T.
1 year ago

Kids these days don’t even know what DeSoto, and REO Speedwagon are anymore…

1 year ago
Reply to  Leo T.

Forgot about Speedwagon??

I don’t believe it. Not for a minute.

1 year ago

There are three parked in my driveway at the moment – a 9-5 and two 9-3’s. At one time, i had four, but my daughter now is the owner of that last one. My kids mostly didn’t know that ignition keys go into a slot on the steering column…

Andy the Swede
Andy the Swede
1 year ago

Grew up with Saabs as my dad always had them leased through his company. Started with the 9000 in 86 and then changed to a new one every 24 months until the last 9-5 he had prior to retiring in 2004.

Naturally my first car when going to university was the somewhat forgotten Saab 90. A sort of hybrid half Saab 99, half Saab 900, Finnish made, cheap version that came out around 1985, mostly I guess to make use of the last 99 model parts before going full 900.

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