Saab History

Had a “Compact” Saab Been the Solution?

Saab Fjord by Paul Breuer

We have already written on this blog about numerous more or less successful projects and concepts of compact car with which Saab tried to conquer this part of the world car market, and thus somehow improve and strengthen its position in the market competition with other competitors. Unfortunately, we are witnessing that this has never been fulfilled, and that the production of cars in Trollhattan is now practically shutting down.

We remember the attempts to cooperate with the Italian Fiat and to sell a small Lancia car on the Scandinavian market under the name Saab 600. Or, various attempts to create a reduced model Saab 9-1. Unfortunately, all that failed.

Things Seem Hopeless For the Production (SAAB) of Cars in Trollhattan

In the very near future, we will see the outcome of the NEVS in Sweden, but it looks hopeless, at least for now. Since 2009, when Saab first went into receivership, there are almost no figures on how many times the gates to the factory in Trollhättan have been closed and locked, only to reopen with new hopeful owners. Maybe it all could have been avoided if one had been aware of the future back in the 1980s? Maybe?

Let’s Go Back a Little Bit

In 1966, Aldo Garnero begins as a designer at Pininfarina and three years later, he switches to Bertone along with the now famous colleague; Marcello Gandini. In 1971 he started working for Lancia’s Centro Stilo where, under the leadership of Piero Castagnero, he is the leading designer behind the magnificent Lancia Beta HPE. In 1980 he switched to Aldo Sessano’s studio, Open Design and here he meets another very creative force when it comes to car design – Paul Breuer.

SAAB Fjord 9001

So far so good, all this just to explain that, even though Aldo Garnero is not the most famous name, his resume is quite significant. One can safely say that he has been in the middle of the epicenter of Italian car design for much of its golden age. This is important because in 1986 he founded his own design studio, Euro Design Engineering, together with Joël Brétecher, a Frenchman he met at Pininfarina at the time. Now it will be really interesting, because in order to promote the knowledge of their new design studio and highlight their expertise, they present a new concept car at the Paris Motor Show: Fjord 9001.

Saab Fjord 9001

The Fjord concept was a small two-door station wagon – or a Shooting Brake as the type can also be called – and a coupe variant. Both were based on the Saab 9000 chassis and mechanics and to show that there were realities behind the tanks, the prototype was on their stand, fully functional with all mechanical parts in place. In other words: a real car.

This gave the Saab Group the opportunity to add a smaller car to the program, and the design suggests that one could at the same time avoid compromising the brand’s DNA and traditions. Six months earlier, Volvo had unveiled their Model Volvo 480 at the Geneva Motor Show, and the little Saab looked like a clear competitor to take up the fight with the new little Volvo.

Could it have been all different?

Aldo Garneros’ plan looked ingenious and could have brought their new design studio all the way up to the top division. Unfortunately, SAAB did not take this into account at the time, perhaps not surprisingly, given the financial difficulties which, even at that time, must have been a clue in Saab’s accounting department. The idea of a compact Saab model in the 80s would have been very well thought out. And who knows? Maybe it could have given exactly the starting point that the Swedish car brand needed, and avoided the sad fate that awaited ahead?

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