Saab History

Uncovering a Hidden Gem: The Story of a 16-Year-Old Saab Fan’s Revolutionary Designs

Discovering a Lost Treasure: The Amazing Story of a Teenage Saab Enthusiast's Innovative Designs

Sketches of a 16-year-old in the late 1970s

The Twente Saab enthusiasts (Saabvrienden in Twente) made an extraordinary discovery this week that the Saab 900 classic convertible may have originated from a Dutch drafting table. And even more astounding, it was designed by a 16-year-old Saab fan.

The Twente Saab enthusiasts were formed in 2007 through a friendship between Bob and Pieter and their love for the Swedish car brand, Saab. Bob has another great love besides Saab: High End Audio. In the past, Bob sold new audio equipment, today he runs a vintage audio shop, ‘XP Audio’ in Enschede. Because he has an truly amazing collection of vintage audio equipment from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, he receives customers from all over Holland, including many Saab enthusiasts.

Chris Bronkhorst, who lives in Winterswijk, is one of Bob’s customers. As there are always Saabs parked outside Bob’s shop, their conversation inevitably turned to the Swedish car brand this week. Bob was stunned when Chris brought in a map with drawings, featuring the most extraordinary designs based on a Saab 900. You might think these are drawings of existing Saabs, but nothing could be further from the truth. Chris made design sketches of models that were later introduced to the market in the late 1980s.

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The answer of the old Saab designer Björn Envall to the drawings sent to them by the young Dutch enthusiast Chris
The answer of the old Saab designer Björn Envall to the drawings sent to them by the young Dutch enthusiast Chris

The drawings date back to 1979 and 1981! And the proof of this is in the original letter from 1979, which was sent by Saab’s design department as a response to Chris’s submitted designs. Saab designer Björn Envall addressed Chris in this response, stating that Saab had also been working on similar designs but that a relatively small brand like Saab had to limit its designs to 3- and 5-door models that were included in the program at that time. A station wagon 900 was a much too big challenge due to wind sensitivity and noise level.

Young Chris Bronkhorst's vision of the wagon version of the Saab 900 from the late 70s, which Chris then called the "Saab 900 GLE Break"
Young Chris Bronkhorst’s vision of the wagon version of the Saab 900 from the late 70s, which Chris then called the “Saab 900 GLE Break”

Chris’s love for Saab was sparked by a beautiful white Saab classic 900 5drs in the family. On the photos is the 50th wedding anniversary party of grandpa and grandma, who were transported in the Saab 900 of Chris’s father.

Chris poses next to the family's white Saab 900 during his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration
Chris poses next to the family’s white Saab 900 during his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration

That Saab was the inspiration for drawing models based on the Saab 900, as can be seen in the accompanying photos. Chris later studied law and still lives in Gelderland. He no longer drives a Saab, but another special beauty in the form of a Citroen DS.

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When viewing the drawings, it became clear that Chris had a special talent for design and had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve. His designs were not only beautiful, but also very practical and feasible.

Revolutionary Designs by 16-Year-Old Saab Fan: Discovering a Hidden Gem in the World of Saab Convertibles
Revolutionary Designs by 16-Year-Old Saab Fan: Discovering a Hidden Gem in the World of Saab Convertibles

The story of the discovery of these designs by a 16-year-old Saab fan, is a perfect example of how passion and talent can lead to great things. The Twente Saab enthusiasts are proud to have uncovered this piece of history and are excited to see what the future holds for these designs. It is a true testament to the enduring appeal of the Saab brand and the dedication of its enthusiasts.

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.

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