SAAB Concepts

The Saab 9000 in its Italian Coupe Variant: A Vision of Elegance and Innovation

Sketch by Pietro Camardella showcasing his vision of the Saab 9000 Coupe: A Side View Rendering

The Saab 9000 Coupe stands as a remarkable fusion of Swedish automotive engineering and Italian design flair. Delving into the rich history and unique design elements of the Saab 9000 Coupe, the narrative highlights its significance in the automotive world.

The Genesis of the Saab 9000 Coupe

In the late 1980s, a collaboration between the Swedish automaker Saab and the Italian Fiat Group, including Lancia and Alfa Romeo, gave birth to the “Type 4” project. This project was a groundbreaking European joint venture, aiming to create a shared platform for several models, including the Saab 9000, Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma, and Alfa Romeo 164.

Pietro Camardella and the Italian Influence

Pietro Camardella, a distinguished designer at Pininfarina, played a pivotal role in the Saab 9000’s design evolution. His work, known for blending functionality with aesthetic appeal, significantly influenced the Saab 9000 Coupe’s design. Camardella’s designs were characterized by a distinct Italian flair, marking a departure from Saab’s traditional design language.

Pietro Camardella, an illustrious figure in automotive design, made significant contributions to the industry during his tenure at Pininfarina. Known for his creative prowess, Camardella was instrumental in designing some of the most iconic vehicles, including the Ferrari F40, F50, and the Mythos Concept Car. His work is celebrated for blending innovative design with functional elegance, leaving a lasting impact on the aesthetics of modern automobiles.

Sketches by Pietro Camardella Showcasing the Saab 9000 Coupe: An Artistic Fusion of Swedish Engineering and Italian Design Elegance, Featuring Side and Rear Views
Sketches by Pietro Camardella Showcasing the Saab 9000 Coupe: An Artistic Fusion of Swedish Engineering and Italian Design Elegance, Featuring Side and Rear Views

Camardella’s approach to design was not just about creating visually striking vehicles; it was about instilling a unique character and soul into each model, a philosophy that deeply influenced the design of the Saab 9000 Coupe.


When Pietro Camardella was assigned the task of designing the Saab 9000 Coupe, he expressed his perspective with insightful clarity. Camardella stated, “Continuing 40 hours a week at Pininfarina (between one Ferrari and another): in 1989, SAAB, following the underwhelming success of the 9000 on a shared platform (not always a good thing), requested a return to the ‘personality’ of the 900. The project was related to the 3-door version, with a side and three-quarter rear view.” This statement reflects Camardella’s understanding of the importance of distinct design identity, especially in the context of collaborative platforms, and his commitment to restoring the unique character inherent to Saab’s design philosophy.

Design Elements of the Saab 9000 Coupe

The Saab 9000 Coupe was a masterful blend of Saab’s design heritage and Italian elegance. Notable features included the iconic Hockey Stick contour on its side window line and unique three-spoke aluminum wheels. The rear end of the car showcased an ‘Italian’ touch, distinct from previous Saab models. These elements were a nod to Saab’s roots while pushing the boundaries of its design ethos.

The Unfulfilled Project

Despite the promising design and the initial enthusiasm, the Saab 9000 Coupe project never reached production. However, its concept and design studies have been a subject of interest and admiration among car enthusiasts.

Alternative Endeavors: The Saab 9000 Variants

The same year that Camardella worked on the Saab 9000 Coupe, other designers envisioned alternative models, including a 2-door convertible and an unknown 2-door sedan version. These concepts highlighted the versatility and potential of the Saab 9000′s design.

Saab 9000 coupe concept sketch
Saab 9000 coupe concept sketch

ASC’s Take on the Saab 9000 Coupe

In a bold move, the American Sunroof Company (ASC) transformed a standard Saab 9000 CD into a coupe. This transformation involved extensive modifications, including relocating the B-pillars, fabricating new front doors, and redesigning the interior trim. The ASC’s Saab 9000 Coupe concept showcased the model’s potential in the luxury coupe market.

Saab 9000 Coupe Concept

Structural Integrity and Design Excellence

The conversion of the Saab 9000 to a coupe by ASC was a meticulous process, ensuring structural integrity and aesthetic harmony. This transformation was a testament to Saab’s engineering prowess and ASC’s commitment to quality and innovation.

The Legacy of the Saab 9000 Coupe: A Testament to Ambition and Creative Pursuit

The Saab 9000 Coupe remains a symbol of what could have been – a perfect blend of Swedish automotive excellence and Italian design sophistication. Its story is one of ambition, creativity, and the relentless pursuit of automotive perfection. While the Saab 9000 Coupe never saw the production line, its legacy continues to inspire and captivate the imagination of car enthusiasts worldwide.

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