Auto Trader cars

Skip to contentSkip to footer

Video: What happened to Saab cars?

Rory and the team look at what really happened to Saab, a beloved and innovative brand that vanished.

Published on 22 June 2023 | 0 min read

Arguably one of the more underrated brands of years gone by, Saab’s cars were packed with personality and quirky features, winning them legions of fans over the years. But somewhere down the line, it started to go wrong.
In our new video, Rory Reid looks at the combination of factors that ultimately led to its unfortunate demise.

Who or what was Saab?

Founded in 1945, Saab was a Swedish car manufacturer that quickly built a reputation for innovation; blending advanced engineering with Scandinavian design, and incorporating pioneering features like headlight wipers, self-repairing bumpers, and turbocharge technology.
Across the board, they had an overarching commitment to safety, which is probably best exemplified in the Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR), a revolutionary system designed to reduce whiplash injuries. Over the years, Saab introduced a range of models that gained a loyal following. The Saab 900 and its successor, the Saab 9-3, were particularly popular and are often pointed to as leading examples of Saab's design philosophy: functional and ergonomic, with driver-oriented and classy (if somewhat quirky) cockpits. It’s hard to pinpoint what happened along the way, but Saab’s decline arguably started after a failed attempt at global expansion. The company initially focused on producing small cars and gained attention with its quirky designs, but an acquisition by General Motors (GM) in 1989 proved a significant turning point, with many feeling this saw Saab’s unique identity start to fade under the influence of GM's standardised processes and platforms. Saab faced further setbacks with low sales, discontinuation of models, and production shifts. Despite its reputation for engineering excellence and innovation, Saab was a relatively small player in a fiercely competitive market, so the company struggled to achieve sustainable profitability. Attempts to appeal to luxury car enthusiasts and compete with premium German manufacturers were met with limited success and, despite a loyal following, Saab struggled to define a niche over the years. GM eventually put Saab under review in 2008, and despite efforts to find a buyer, the brand faced administration. As to what finally saw Saab off, well, watch the video to find out.

Saab for sale

While the brand ultimately floundered on the global market, there are generation of devoted fans still out there and plenty of beloved second-hand models available on Auto Trader.
Take a deep dive in to the range of Saab cars available for sale today.