Saab History

Many People Say Saabs are “Quirky” – Why is That?

Saab 9-5 NG Stearing Wheel

At one of the numerous internet Saab forums, a discussion was started on a eternal topic among Saab’s fans and those who have no experience with the Saab brand –  Why Saab are are “Quirky” (adjective – having or characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits or aspects)?

The initiator of these topics in the Forum explain the reasons for starting the topic – His story short, he inhertied his Saab 900 from his grandfather when he passed away one month ago and since then he have started bringing her back to life, She didnt run one month ago and now he drive her every weekend. Just trying to understand why some people shutter at these cars cause since working on it he enjoyed all the time/research done.

Saab Keyfob

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A Quirky Car Loved by Some…

Here are some interesting thoughts on this topic by fans.

Daniel Josefson: A true wierd car maker is Peugeot/Citroën, they have some wierd solutions for you and non-service-friendly thechniks of puting an automobile together, also have window winder buttons in the roof etc…..totaly wierd

Ravin Perera: Well…wrap around screen, deep dash, engine reversed, gearbox underneath driven by a triplex chain, removable clutch without removing engine or gearbox, front drive, massive cargo space, steel in roof structure strong as, disc brakes all round, dual front wish bone suspension, first car to use turbocharging in a commercial production car, doors designed to push snow away when opening… the list goes on…

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Olav Andreas Nordlie: You forgot reverse lock, ignition in the center console and for later cars Black panel/night panel, some of my favorite features…

Joe Gray: Is that true about the doors designed to push snow away? – Ravin Perera: yes, that’s why they wrap under, and I have read it somewhere, it apparently allowed them to make a stronger sill and also made it easier to step into the car as the sill was further in.

Saab 9000 dashboard Mock-up
Saab 9000 dashboard Mock-up

Perry Ellington: It’s partially a “you had to be there” kind of thing. things like Turbo’s, hatchbacks, Ergonomic design, Good seats, that are common place today were started or were adopted early on by Saab. Ya the engine is backwards and the key is in the wrong place but those are just the obvious things you see looking back in time.

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Sue-Larry Jewett: Years ago (60s – 80s) I believe it was attributed more to the owners of the cars and not so much the cars. SAAB ownership was definitely a special group who appreciated the special qualities and safety features of the cars. Definitely not the mainstream cars of the day. Much like Volvo and Citroen. Long before Audi became mainstream.

Dave Clark: Interestingly enough, SAAB owners who used to be called SNAAB owners,and never acknowledged another one,now wave when they see me,even across the median on the interstate,but only the old 900s. This is now similar to what I experienced driving VW campers and a LandRover. – Sue-Larry Jewett: Oh contrare, of sorts! When Saab first moved the dimmer switch to the steering wheel stock, they also made it a flasher so fellow Saab owners could flash their headlights to one another.

Terry Cronin: I suspect because so many think they are very technical cars. they are just well planned and well engineered. if you know the stuff that goes out and stay on top of it, you are ahead. great cars.

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Vincent Levinger: I think it’s the look. They’re instantly recognizable from anything else, modern or classic. Honestly on the interior there isn’t anything radical (other than key in the middle). You also have to consider the engineering is pretty quirky (engine mounted at 45 degree angle, backwards, on top of the gearbox)

What is your opinion on this topic – Why Saab are are “Quirky”?

Goran Aničić
the authorGoran Aničić
For over 10 years, Goran Aničić has been passionately focused on Saab automobiles and everything related to them. His initial encounter with Saab cars took place back in 2003 when the first Saab 9-3 and sedan version were introduced. At that moment, he was captivated by the car's Scandinavian design logic and top-notch engineering, and everything that followed stemmed from that first encounter. Later on, through his work at the editorial team of the Serbian automotive magazines "Autostart" and later "AutoBild," he had the opportunity to engage more closely with Saab vehicles. In 2008, he tested the latest Saab cars of that time, such as the Saab 9-3 TTiD Aero and Saab 9-3 Turbo X. In 2010, as the sole blogger from the region, he participated in the Saab 9-5ng presentation in Trollhättan, Sweden. Alongside journalists from around the world, he got a firsthand experience of the pinnacle of technological offerings from Saab at that time. Currently, Goran owns two Saabs: a 2008 Saab 9-3 Vector Sportcombi with a manual transmission, and a Saab 9-3 Aero Griffin Sport Sedan from the last generation, which rolled off the production line in Trollhättan in December 2011.


  • The key in the center console is perfectly located so there is no unnessessary motion to start the car, release the hand brake, put the car in gear and go. No reaching for the key one the dash or column, then to the brake and shifter. Same when shutting the car down.
    Plus the security of locking the gearbox when the key is removed!
    Had them all: 99 T, 900 T ‘82, 9000 T ‘86, 9000 Aero ‘94, 95 Aero 2000. Still have our ‘92 900 T Convertable.
    Not Querky, Advanced until distroyed by GM!

    • That’s all too true. And all that was quirky about Saab was what drew me to owning my first 99 when I was in the military and the ones I owned after that.

      And yeah, Saab was destroyed by GM who couldn’t make a vehicle that would compete with the Saab. Instead of gleaning from the engineering, they allowed an entire company to die in their hands. People won’t talk about this topic but I have stayed away from GM after this happened.

  • A statement often made by a person that’s been driving Saab’s forever; lol. Here’s one for you; in the earlier 99″s if you packed the trunk; your fuel pump could stop working. So the answer is; always expect the unexpected with Saab’s if you don’t service them. I’ve been driving them since 1984, and I’ve seen my share of quirks. Quirky is accurate; lol

  • It’s interesting that people almost always refer to the classic 900 or 99 when saying Saabs are quirky.

    I mean, the 9000 for example, is way more mainstream than early saabs, and the 9-5 even so.

  • after 26 years with the car (bought new), the only time it had to be picked up was because my daughter put diesel fuel on it, inadvertently, and just as a precaution -she realized on the spot and they extracted the fuel, but I insisted on a cleanup-. Saabs are special, and particularly 900s and 9000s were not liked by every one, but I dont think that they were “nerdy” at all. And definitely not accessible to everyone at the time. You had to be able to afford them, to start with.

  • On first getting a manual 900 I was warned has to be in reverse to be able to take the key out. I had to ask as SAAB service that the wipers on lights operate when you do the full wash wipe motion on the windscreen wipers. Now I have a later 900 automatic. I had to be told if it does not start on first turn of key you must take key back to lock and take key out and then in to try to restart.

  • The one thing that was the main reason for SAAB’s standing out in a crowd was the forward tilting bonnet on the C900, something that wasn’t mentioned at all in article.
    Furthermore, the recessed bottom of the doors wasn’t to “push snow away when opening” as was suggested. It was to create a hull shaped profile out of the floor so that the car could glide through snow drifts easily.
    SAAB has always stood out largely down to radical design, unusual lines and near flawless engineering used in their construction. Another stand out feature is the ‘cockpit like’ drivers console, all controls are easily reachable when being driven, no leaning over to operate.
    Ergonomic, that’s SAAB for you. Swedish design incorporating form, function, design, appeal, drivability, safety, all round visibility when driving and most importantly, reliability.

  • Because Saab cars and their drivers are DIFFERENT!
    And being different scares people.
    Drive one and become DIFFERENT.

  • Simple..SAAB innovation has driven some of the most notable car improvements known today. Most People, because they’re inherently adverse to change and improvement, fail to realize that fact!

  • Saab is unique, the experience of aircraft construction has led SAAB on a different but always logical path. Therefore Saab was technically advanced and durable. Sweden has always been very innovative and, above all, collaborative when it comes to active and passive safety, even before the laws required it.
    GM has never been able to cope with this mentality because GM has only learned to think commercially.
    SAAB it’s not mainstream like GM wanted it to be; that’s why Bob Lutz was against, because Saab it was too eccentric. That was the reason why GM didn’t fit with SAAB. But GM took advantage of the Swedes’ technical research right up to the end.
    As long as the mass follows this current of mainstream, the Swedes are always described as quirky. The logical thinking required to understand Saab is missing.
    This proves in retrospect that a non-Saab mechanic will only understand Swedish technology when an engine is removed, because small logical details emerge that make reassembly easier. Afterwards, Saab is seen from an independent perspective.

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