There’s no doubt that Saab as a company has been running on fumes for the past couple of years, teetering that bankruptcy line more than any other automaker has in recent time.
But if there’s one silver lining to the malaise the company is embroiled in, it’s that some of their cars are still being represented in the world of auto racing. One in particular is Flash Engineering, which recently unveiled their new Saab 9-3 TTA race car that’s set to compete in the Swedish Racing Elite League this year.
The 9-3-turned race car comes with a dynamic wide body kit to go with a vented hood, a new rear diffuser, and a larger rear spoiler, making it primed and ready for some hardcore racing action.
According to Jan Nilsson, Flash Engineering’s Managing Director, the motivation to enter the Swedish Racing Elite series with a Saab 9-3 was to finally see how it stacks up against its local rival, Volvo, out on the track. “I have longed for 40 years to see the fight between Saab and Volvo on the race tracks," he said. "It becomes reality this summer and my biggest dream is to get all Saab fans to the TTA races to cheer us on.”
While we think that it’s a race that will get turn some heads, we think it’s a little more of a big deal to see a Saab vehicle compete in a racing environment despite the company’s well-chronicled financial struggles. Here’s to hoping for a good showing from the guys over at Flash Motorsport.
Updated 03/23/2012: Flash Engineering has unveiled today a first video for their Saab 9-3 TTA Race Car featuring a first test session. The test was a first run, at the Alés track in France, where the front was not completed, the final car is going to look different.
We knew something was going on when a Swedish newspaper reported that Volvo was looking into purchasing Saab from Spyker, but the deal didn’t exactly go down like they had stated. Volvo won’t be purchasing the Swedish automaker, but as of June 15, 2011, the Spyker/Saab pair will now be known as Swedish Automobile N.V. (SWAN) after both companies were purchased by the Chinese Pang Da Automobile (Pang Da). Pang Da gave Spyker new life by filling its veins with a €65 million investment for a 24 percent stake in the company.
In a previous statement, Victor Muller, CEO Spyker Cars and Saab Automobile, said: "Based on our discussions with Pang Da we are confident about the possibility of Pang Da obtain regulatory approvals necessary to formalize the transaction. I am very eager to create a solid company with Pang Da, first in the distribution and subsequently in the manufacture of Saab cars in China. It must be stressed that the prepayment Pang Da and sales of Saab cars imported are not subject to approval by the NDRC. The first advance of 30 million has been received by Saab on Tuesday."
In a perfect world, Saab wouldn’t be embroiled in the mess that they’re in, having to fight for their automotive life while struggling to even hang on by a thread. Unfortunately, the real world is far more brutal than that and for the past few years, Saab has teetered the precarious line of living to sell another day and permanently closing shop.
It’s this sad reality that makes us feel bad, especially when we know the prospects of what Saab could be if they were as fit, healthy, and spry as other automakers. This particular concept study, an amalgamation between Saab and Nespresso designs, comes from the mind of student Eric Leong from Umea University. A Saab sponsored-project, Leong wanted to design a car that takes its inspiration from a non-automotive source: Nespresso, a Nestle-owned company that sells espresso machines, of all things.
The creative young student mixed the design elements and characteristics found on coupes, hatchbacks, and pick-ups while also keeping to mind Saab styling cues, including the aviation-inspired elements, the ’hockey-stick’ C-pillar, a wraparound DLO, and a roofline design that looks similar to the Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept.
Nespresso-inspired elements on the car can be traced to the rear end with its flexible, dual storage compartment. Likewise, the car was designed with top deck panels with cushions serving as substitute materials to create an open-air, social environment. Incidentally, the same 9-X BioHybrid Concept-inspired roof is covered with solar panels that serves the quizzical purpose of powering the owner’s house when the car is parked.
While we’re not certain as to how that last part works, the whole design of the Saab Nespresso study does give us an indication of what the future would be like if the Swedish brand stood on safer ground.
Saab may be on the short stick – again - as far as their future is concerned, but some of their models still find a way to make the news and try to move the spotlight away from their tumultuous future into something a little more optimistic.
In this case, the question has to be posed: who knew that you could take a Saab 9-3, strip it down to its bare essentials, build the whole puzzle back together, and fit in an 8.4-liter V10 engine that comes courtesy of a Dodge Viper SRT10?
You read that whole paragraph right, folks. The word’s ‘Saab’ and ‘SRT’ are coming together for a very revealing customer project. The final model, which is being called the ‘9-3 SRT10 MegaPower’, came from the mind of one Zaccho Pelle, who wanted nothing more than to turn his Saab 9-3 Estate from an otherwise mundane wagon into a Viper SRT10-powered, 600-horsepower piece of automotive madness.
Full details on the Saab 9-3 SRT10 MegaPower after the jump.
Volvo and Saab have long since been rivals in the automotive industry. Recent years have seen a decline in this competition, but the two still share much in common. After General Motors was finished running Saab into the ground by making re-branded Chevrolets with their nameplate, it was sold off. One of the most unique companies in the world, Spyker, bought Saab and has been running it since 2010.
Earlier today a Swedish newspaper has reported that Volvo in conjunction with the Swedish government were in talks about buying Saab. Volvo spokesman Per-Ake Froberg said, “No such talks have been going on and no such talks are scheduled.” The idea of this merger is rather interesting and has several implications on capital markets.
The De Telegraaf newspaper mentions that the Swedish government would like Volvo to take over Saab because that would mean a greater chance that a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) granted to Saab, which was guaranteed by Sweden, would be repaid. This type of acquisition would also help Saab deal with its cash problem. Spyker had its 2010 sales fall below forecasts and has therefore struggled to pay suppliers. Sweden has also come to the rescue here by approving financing to help get production on the move once more.
The Swedish government is not the only player in this transaction seeing as China is essentially the owner of Volvo. Geely Automotive Holdings took over the Volvo brand after its sale from Ford. This acquisition was the largest of any automaker by China. You may also remember the acquisition of the Hummer brand, but that paled in comparison to this. The Saab CEO, Victor Muller, has said, “the Swedish carmaker is negotiating with a wide range of Chinese car makers about a tie up.” It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out and whether these two monikers can rise from the ashes of their U.S. ownership and become profitable once again.
Shortly after becoming the official supplier for ECU upgrades, aero kits, brakes, exhaust systems, and a few other modifications for Saab models on the US market, Hirsch Performance is getting to work with the beginning of what we’re sure will be a long list of tuning projects for the Swedish automaker. The first project unveiled was the 9-3 models shown at the Chicago Auto Show, and the next is this tuning package provided for the 9-5.
The name for the package comes straight out of the power behind it. Hirsch Performance has taken the 2.0T Turbo4 engine found in the Saab and equipped it with direct injection, a modern twin scroll turbocharger, and improved charge cooling. The result is a total output of 260 HP and a peak torque of 295 lbs-ft. Thanks to the twin scroll technology, the throttle response is also significantly faster. The 40 HP increase is accompanied by a new top speed of 155 mph.
The price for this upgrade is $1350 and can be applied to any of the models with front wheel drive and XWD, manual and automatic transmissions.
Back in 2006, Saab brought out the Aero-X, a concept considered a piece of art at that time. Now, five years later, Saab has one-upped that concept with the launch of the new Phoenix Concept at the Geneva Motor Show. This concept previews the design language of the next generation of Saab cars.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Saab history, you should know that the "Ursaab" name says a lot. It was Saab’s first model to be launched on the market and the Phoenix takes its inspiration from it as a play on the rising of the Phoenix. We’re thinking that if the future of Saab looks anything like this, then they will truly rise from the ashes, just like the Phoenix bird did.
"The PhoeniX establishes a new reference point for the future of Saab product design," says Jason Castriota, Saab Automobile’s Executive Design Director. "It symbolizes a renaissance of the innovative spirit and passion that drove Saab to build its first car. We’re now taking the visual DNA forward with what we call ‘aeromotional’ design, adding emotion, power and fluidity. This design aesthetic will shape and differentiate future models in the Saab portfolio."
Hit the jump to read more about the Saab PhoeniX concept.
Saab’s entry level compact car has received a refresh for the 2012MY, and it also has a new name to go along with it. Now called the 9-3 Griffin for the US version, the hot hatch will be getting some interior and exterior modifications, as well as a couple of new engines.
Starting off with the exterior, the 9-3 Griffin will be receiving new front bumpers and signature Saab ‘ice block’ headlamps to differentiate itself from the earlier versions of the second generations. This is followed by a new metallic trim for the interior, as well as updated leatherette seats and unique storage pockets on the sides of the front seats.
More engine options will also find their way into the 9-3 Griffin, alongside the usual mix of 1.9-liter TTiD twin turbo diesel engines producing either 130, 160, 180hp. These new engines will come in 2.0L petrol flavors with 163hp or 220hp.
Hit the jump to read more about the 2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin.
The biggest international auto show of the 2011 calendar year is getting closer and closer to opening its doors when the event kicks off on March 1st, 2011. Unlike recently concluded auto shows we’ve had since the calendar turned to 2011, the Geneva Motor Show is always the one that gets our juices flowing. Not that those other events weren’t any good, but Geneva brings out all the goods. All the big boys come out to play at this event, so much so that making this preview took more days than we expected because everyday, a new model was being announced as attending the event.
Now that the Geneva Motor Show is less than two weeks away, we feel like it’s time to give you a sneak peek on what cars to expect at the event. A lot of brands that routinely skip other auto shows will all be in attendance at the Geneva Motor Show, proving that without a shadow of a doubt, this Swiss spectacle is one of the most important - if not the most important - events in the automotive calendar.
Hit the jump to check out just who will be in attendance when the show opens its doors on March 1st, 2011.
February 23rd is a very special day for the boys of Saab. A year ago on this day, the Swedish automaker was officially given a new life by Spyker, and the former will be celebrating the first anniversary of Saab’s rebirth as an independent carmaker by releasing a special edition 9-3 Convertible that it’s calling the “Independence Edition”.
Set to be launched at a special party to be held at the company’s Trollhättan plant in Sweden, the 9-3 Independence Day Edition is a model that will be limited to just 366 units – one for each day that has passed since Spyker made its purchase from General Motors. Pass the cheese this direction, please?
Cheesiness aside, the 9-3 Independence Day Edition will come with a number of unique features, including a 2.0-liter Biopower engine that produces 220 horsepower, a bespoke Amber Orange metallic exterior paint finish, a set of 18" alloy wheels decked in a two-tone satin chrome and black finish. Meanwhile, the interior gets beige leather interior seats and a glovebox with orange piping, an orange turbo instrument needle, carbon fiber trim, an orange stitched sports leather steering wheel, carpet mats that come with gray piping, and a couple of other upgrades courtesy of Hirsch Performance.
As soon as the 9-3 Independence Edition finishes celebrating Saab’s one-year “rebirth” anniversary, the car is expected to make an appearance at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Can’t say that we’re particularly thrilled about the car. It’s a definite looker, especially that orange piping on the interior seats, but we’re not going to sell our souls in order to get one.