The Saab Phoenix concept car from 2011, which was meant to symbolize a new beginning for the Swedish automaker, unfortunately met a tragic fate.
According to numerous reports, the unique and highly praised Saab Phoenix concept car was destroyed and did not find its way to the Saab Museum in Trollhättan like other iconic Saab concepts. This unfortunate revelation has left car enthusiasts and Saab fans dismayed.
When Victor Muller took over Saab, he recruited the acclaimed young super designer Jason Castriota as the design director for Saab Automobile. Castriota had previously worked for Pininfarina and Bertone, where he played a key role in designing the Ferrari 599 GTB and Maserati GranTurismo.
His primary mission at Saab was to develop a new generation of the Saab 9-3 and create concept cars that would showcase the brand’s unique design heritage, which had been neglected during the GM years.
The name “Phoenix” was inspired by the mythological bird that rises from the ashes of its own destruction. Just like Saab, the concept aimed to signify a rebirth from the ashes. “Our company is being re-born, and the PhoeniX is a celebration of the pioneering spirit and enthusiasm that established Saab in the automotive industry. It ushers in a new generation of Saab design. We call it ‘aeromotional,’ adding passion and emotion to cool Scandinavian aesthetics,” said Jason Castriota.
The design of the Saab Phoenix concept was said to be inspired by Saab’s classic models, featuring speculative butterfly-wing doors and camera-based rearview mirrors. The interior was ahead of its time, incorporating an infotainment system based on Google’s Android platform. A 9-3 Phoenix variant based on the same platform was also developed, although it was never publicly showcased. However, images of the car have been published through SaabUnited.
During Castriota’s tenure, a multitude of sketches and clay models were created in addition to the two concept cars. These proposals aimed to return Saab to its roots and design heritage, receiving widespread acclaim.
Castriota faced a challenging task, and reportedly, he did not receive any salary from Saab. Unfortunately, all the projects came to an abrupt end with Saab’s bankruptcy in December 2011. The plan was for the 9-3 Phoenix to be equipped with engines from BMW.
Destroying the concept was part of the deal
The Phoenix bird rose into the sky but ultimately fell. Today, these iconic concept cars are nowhere to be found, and according to various reports, they have been destroyed and are not preserved for future generations.
Allegedly, the cars were scrapped as part of an agreement between Saab’s bankruptcy estate and Jason Castriota, with the condition that the cars would be destroyed due to Castriota not receiving the promised compensation. While there is no official confirmation from the bankruptcy estate, the information has been corroborated in an article by the magazine Auto motor & sport.
“We do not have the concept cars in the museum, and I don’t know where they have gone. If the cars have been scrapped, it is tragic. It is not surprising that the clay models are not preserved; they deteriorate over time. Regarding the agreement between Saab and Castriota, you should inquire with the bankruptcy estate,” said Peter Bäckström from the Saab Museum.
Following his departure from Saab, Jason Castriota has had a successful career. He currently serves as the global director of Ford’s electric vehicles and has played a key role in the development of models such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Ford F-150 Lightning.
It is indeed disheartening to learn that the Saab Phoenix concept cars, which held great cultural significance, have been lost. The destruction of these unique vehicles is a loss for the automotive world, as they represented a pivotal moment in Saab’s history and the vision of a brighter future for the brand.