Being in a somewhat privileged position, I have just recently come into contact with some decidedly odd motor vehicles that bear the Saab insignia.
Vehicles so strange that it makes me wonder what on earth the Trollhatten boys were smoking when they designed these ??? mobiles.
1. The 95 Stationwagen
Now needless to say, Iím on perilous ground already because there are quite a few people, Tom included, that really love these cars, cherish them, cuddle them when no-oneís looking. Well, the front end I have no problem with at all. Itís the same as the 96 and is very cute indeed. The rear is not. All sorts of angles, straight lines and fake vents that do nothing to cohese the rear to the 96ís cute and bulbous front.
Now at this point Alison, in its defence, pointed out that ,at that time, these angles and fins were very popular and called my attention to the Ford Zepher and Zodiac, not to mention the Anglia and Cortina. They were a product of too many designers looking to the US for inspiration in a time when nobody had any real money to plough into automobile design. ďFair enoughĒ I retorted, ďbut itís ĎNoelís House Party Syndromeí isnít it? Just because somethingís popular, doesnít make it goodĒ.
I really think that the Saab boys werenít paying attention when these things first chugged out of the factory. The whole feel of the design is just a bit too ďRenault 4 VanĒ for my liking and I just canít get excited by them.
NB: in saying that I do concede that they are different in the extreme and, while I canít like them, I do understand why some people do).
PS: hate mail should be addressed to department of the treasury.govt.org.co.uk.
2. The Sonett III
There are some very odd cars from the late 60ís and early 70ís mainly because car designers at the time still wanted to be drawing 1950ís Wolseys and Alvisís and were constantly being pushed to make their cars different before the technology existed to be able to do it well.
While the Sonett III doesnít fall into this category, it does utilise lots and lots of strange angles and dimensions that were the personification of automobile design at the time. Throw a tight budget into the mix and then the fact that Saab really didnít know how to build a two seater sports car so they copied how British sports cars were put together, from say a spitfire (bad move) and itís not surprising that the Sonetts, on the whole, didnít make much of an impression on the motoring world.
Donít get me wrong, they are fun cars to drive and again they are very, very different but theyíre not as dynamic as a Sports Car should be and they look SO ODD! There are many little touches that do endear and they are a Saab and not some c**ppy little Triumph but on the whole er! No.
(Hate e-mails should be addressed to www.simoncowell.co.uk)
3. The Saab 90 (circa 1984)
Now this car is charmingly ODD and much easier to explain. The 99 at this point has pitched as the cheaper alternative to the 900 but it needed a re-vamp to see it through the planned remaining two years of manufacture. Now if you believe Saab, they said that nailing on the 900ís rear end was just part of the revamp but it was actually much cheaper to use these rear panels than to continue manufacturing the 99ís. There also may have been an element of using up NHAT 99 stock Saab had left et voila, the Saab 90 was born.
Didnít last long, didnít sell many but it did the job it was supposed to do (after a fashion). So cute and strange are these cars that I am seriously thinking of turning one into Norwegian Blue II. Iíll keep you posted.
There are of course, many more wonderfully weird concept cars and let us not forget the road test muse 99 that was badged as a ďDaihatsuĒ (I think anyway; no doubt someone will correct me on that if Iím wrong). So many in fact, that they could all be given lip service here.
NB: Saab are one of the few car companies that donít fritter away millions on developing something if itís not got the legs to make it to production. So many concepts didnít make it past drawings and for that they are to be commended, praised and exulted for being truly unique.
I suppose what we are really talking about her is a carís character. All Saabs have oodles of character; some, it would seem, have a bit too much for their own good. However, in the long run, theyíre still Saabs and that really what matters in this conformist, dull, girls a?? world we live in..
28 November 2006
(apologies for any oddities and omissions in Mattís latest contribution Ė we await some proof reading input)