Saab, a Swedish company, has a long and storied history. In 1937, as the world marched closer and closer to World War II, Sweden began making provisions in the event that its neutrality was challenged. To that end, Swedish Aeroplane Limited (Svenska Aeroplan AB) was established to build aircraft for the Swedish Air Force. As the war went on and Sweden saw it had no need for fighter jets, the company looked to expand into new and untapped markets. It found just that in the form of automobiles.
In 1945, the year that WWII came to a close, Saab began on a car design project. Out of that project, the Saab 92 was born. First sold in 1949, the 92 launched Saab onto the international car market, and it was the first of many 9-Series vehicles to come over the next 60+ years.
Immediately after World War II, Saab was technically still an aircraft company. Those in charge of the corporation decided that, in order to distinguish civilian airplanes from military ones, all civilian products manufactured by the company should be given numbers starting with 9. Built immediately after WWII, the Saab 90 and 91 were actually civilian aircraft. The 92 was the first vehicle ever made by the Swedish company, but similarly received the designation of ‘9.’ Subsequently, all Saab vehicles became part of the so-called ‘9-Series.’
As the years went on, this naming convention became problematic. Since the rule was that all civilian vehicles and products had to begin with the number 9, it wasn’t long before the cars got into triple and even quadruple digits. In 1998, Saab launched a car that should have been named the ‘Saab 90,000.’ Instead, Saab went back to double digits, but now decided that a dash should be put in between the two digits (such as, Saab 9-3). The second number now indicates the size of the vehicle – and, in turn, the price. When the second number is followed by an ‘X’ that indicates that the vehicle comes equipped with all-wheel drive.
Over the years, there have been dozens of different model lines on offer. However, Saab has always maintained a reputation for reliability, unique styling, efficiency, and luxury. Available as convertibles, 4x4s, sedans, wagons, and more, Saabs are generally thought of as high quality, durable, and distinctive, and there is plenty of brand loyalty among owners. The company faced serious financial issues during the global recession, and it was recently acquired by a joint Chinese-Japanese venture that plans to create all-electric Saabs in the near future.
Throughout their production run, Saabs have featured a wide variety of engines under their bonnets. For example, the first Saab ever introduced, the Saab 92, featured a 764 cc 2-stroke V2 engine with just 26kW of power. That car actually won a race in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952.
The new generation of 9-Series most popular car, the 900, on the other hand, featured a choice of 2.0L, 2.3L, or 2.5L engines. The 2.3L V4 on that particular car features an output of 110kW of power and 210Nm of torque. More recent Saabs, such as the Saab 9-3, can feature much more powerful engines such as the 2.8L V6 with an output of 206kW and 400Nm. You will find a wide variety of different engine options among Saab 9-Series on the pre-owned market.
Since the Saab company was formed from a Swedish aerospace corporation, they have always been at the forefront of technological innovation. Saabs are renowned for the unique Swedish engineering. What’s more, the Swedish automaker has been responsible for many automotive breakthroughs. For example, in 1958, a Saab became the first car fitted with seatbelts as a standard feature. The company pioneered direct ignition, as well as many safety features.
All Saabs are subject to the Swedish elk test, as elk are a common cause of automobile accidents in that country. In addition, the company compiled a database of over 6000 real life accidents in order to improve their safety features. Modern Saabs feature a floor-mounted ignition, giving the cars more interior space. Saabs are very difficult to hotwire because of a unique metal bar that rotates up into the ignition when the key is in the ‘Lock’ position.
Since the Saab’s 9-Series is so distinctive, Saab owners tend to be generally loyal. The brand has an unusual image in many markets around the world, and it usually tends to find its niche among intellectuals and enthusiasts. However, just because Saabs are a bit offbeat doesn’t mean that the Swedish automaker is without its competitors. Significant competition can be found from Volvo, another Swedish company that has been manufacturing safe and high-quality cars since 1927. Volkswagen, a German automaker, could also be considered a competitor.