By the late Eighties, Swedish firm Saab’s automotive division had been reduced to a sad shadow of its former self and “Born from Jets” heritage. Keen on divesting its interest in cars and to focus attention on its more successful aeronautic business, Saab was looking for an investor. Around this same time, General Motors was looking to expand its foothold in Europe, and it promptly made an offer. It seemed like a win-win situation for both. Saab got much needed liquidity, while GM got 50 per cent stake in the brand, which was later raised to 100 per cent making the Swedish brand a wholly owned subsidiary.
But it didn’t take much time for everyone to realise that this was the beginning of the end for Saab. GM didn’t have any plan to retain the brand’s heritage, instead started badge engineering these cars. Starting with the Saab 900 in 1993, which was nothing more than a rebadged Opel Vectra to the 1997 9-5 that was again Opel-based, a string of disappointing cars emerged from Trollhättan. And quite contrary to what Saab owners were used to until then, the GM-based cars were below par in engineering quality and reliability. But GM wasn’t willing to change its strategy or invest more into development of all-new Saab models, and again came out with an SUV, the 9-7X, which was a clumsy mishmash of the Chevrolet Trailblazer and the GMC Yukon with a vaguely Swedish front fascia and a Saab badge.
It wasn’t difficult at all for customers to see through this lazy half-hearted job, and naturally, sales were dismal. By 2010, Saab was bleeding so much money exponentially that GM decided to sell the brand. And in 2011, Saab filed for bankruptcy, dying a slow, ignominious death.