Monday, December 19, 2011

Saab - RIP

Saab has filed for bankruptcy, so it looks like it won't survive much longer.

A lot has been going on with the company since GM sold it off in its own bankruptcy proceedings in 2009. There had been been hope of a Chinese white knight to somehow take on the daunting challenge of restoring profitability to the Swedish automaker, but it looks like time and interest has run out. That solution has worked, for the time being, for the other Swedish brand, Volvo.

It's sad, and it's not the first brand I've known all my life that has gone. I've seen all of America's "Big 3" shed brands -- Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Mercury are now defunct, and Saturn, the newest GM brand, lasted only 20 years.

This kind of change happened in the 1950's, which saw many independents, such as Nash, Hudson, Packard and Kaiser, fade into history. Studebaker, which predated all the car companies in being a wagon manufacturer in the 19th century, held on until 1966.

What's happening today shows broad changes in the highly competitive auto industry and although it's too bad, it's also a necessity for the overall car business to thrive. Growth is definitely happening in the Korean companies, Hyundai and Kia, so although there are now fewer brands from the major US companies, there are still lots of choices.

Saab made a lot of interesting cars -- many are still out there in traffic -- and, when, as it looks nearly inevitable, it passes into history, it will not be soon forgotten. That's the latest 9-5 in the photo.

I've never owned a Saab, but I've driven some, including a bright green convertible. I do have a Plymouth and a Nash. Maybe it's time to add a Saab to my collection.

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