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Whats a Saab

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Saab

Whats a Saab

Ronnie Tanner
May 28, 2009

The Saab is an automobile produced a Swedish car manufacturer. The company was originally a division of the Swedish Aeroplane Company established in 1937 to produce aircraft for the Swedish Air force. To most Americans that seems like an early date to begin producing military planes for World War II, One must remember that the United States had entered the war at a late date, trying to stay neutral while most of western Europe had been engaged in war with Germany and the other Axis powers for years before the United States entered the fray.

Because the company had been created specifically to build military aircraft, there was a great need to find another market once World War II had ended. Auto manufacturing seemed to be the perfect way to transition into the era of peace.

Once focus was turned to car manufacturing, Saab was able to pull from its experience designing and building aircraft. A perfect example of this was the Saab 92, the first car produced by Saab post war. The Saab 92 had a drag coefficient of just 0.30, the lowest of any car produced until that time.

Saab would continue to produce quality small passenger vehicles for some time. However, it soon became clear that the public wanted larger automobiles that could accommodate the whole family. The Saab 99 was the answer to that need. It was the final car to be designed by Sixten Sason, who had been Saab’s chief designer since the end of World War II. However, the car was extremely successful and would be the basis of Saabs design style for the next 20 years. The Saab 99 was also the first turbo charged model, something that would become Saabs trademark in years to come.

Though initially growth was slow for Saab, it produced its 500,000th model in 1970. Things heated up quickly and just 6 years later Saab would produce it one-millionth vehicle in 1976. In response to a rapidly expanding global market, Saab entered into partnership with Fiat. Together Saab and Fiat produced some of the most popular cars such as the Alfa Rome 164, the Fiat Croma and the Saab 9000.

Although Saab had had a small presence in the United States for quite a while, it was General Motors acquisition of 50% of Saab that brought the Swedish car to the United States in larger numbers. Although it took several years, the infusion of General Motors capital was what Saab had needed to recover from years of slipping sales. In 1995, the company posted the first profit it had seen in 7 years.

As with all car companies in the twenty first century, Saab has struggled for the past few years and on February 17, Saab’s parent company, General Motors announced that Saab would file for bankruptcy and reorganization within ten days unless aid was provided to the ailing company in ten day. The Swedish government balked at the idea stating that Saab would not hold the Swedish taxpayer for ransom and perhaps Saab would do better to return to the production of wind turbines rather than to attempt to produce more cars in a market that already has a glut of them.

Ronnie Tanner is a contributing writer at SW Engines. He writes about used Saab engines and other industry specific topics.

Source: Amazines.com



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