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We Still Sell Affordable Saab Spares and Parts for the Remaining Saab Cars in South Africa
Saab spares are almost exclusively available from the franchised agents in South Africa, because Saab is a very low volume, slow-selling niche brand. However, Saab has garnered a loyal – if small – local following that appreciates these cars for their quirky Swedish charm, high safety levels and solid engineering. Therefore, it is rather a shame that under the auspices of General Motors, the Saab brand was progressively diluted over more than twenty years from when GM had bought the brand in 1989 until they sold them in 2010 to Spyker.
The Glory Days
Saab parts and cars were meticulously engineered to the highest aerospace – never mind automotive – standards in their starting years, because Saab was a proud aircraft manufacturer since 1937, building aeroplanes for the Swedish Air Force. Development on the first Saab passenger car started in 1944 and the Saab 92 duly went into production in 1947 with a drag coefficient of just 0.30, a value that would only be matched by mass-produced cars more than thirty years later. For years, solid and charismatic cars like the Saab 94, 95, 97, 99 and 900 defined the brand and endeared it to its followers. The decline began under GM, when many Saab parts were shared with other GM products; many Saab spares were identical to GM cars'.
The GM Era
Under GM, Saab developed the new 900, which was launched in 1994 and was quite a decent car and a reasonable success. Critically, it maintained Saab's trademark hatchback layout and distinctive dashboard design complete with the console-mounted ignition switch and the toggle-type ventilation outlets. It even helped the brand to a modest profit in 1995 and it seemed that the company may be set for a rosy future, but the trouble was already brewing, because more and more Saab spares beneath the surface were replaced with GM parts in succeeding years. These were the GM era Saabs:
- 1994: the new 900, which was based on the Opel Vectra platform, but still leveraged Saab turbo technology and engines and had distinctive styling. However, it was not as well-built as older Saabs.
- 1997: the Saab 9-5 was launched to replace the ageing 9000 and was initially offered as a sedan only, doing away with Saab's classic hatch layout; this mistake was only partly redressed by the 1999 estate.
- 1997: the 900 was facelifted and renamed 9-3 to coincide with the 9-5 launch.
- 2003: after GM had acquired Saab as a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2000, the new 9-3 was launched and dropped the hatchback concept altogether; it was a shamelessly badge-engineered Vectra with GM engines – and felt it.
- The badge engineering continued with two American market products, the 9-7X (a restyled Chev Trailblazer) and a 9-2X (a restyled Subaru Impreza) but both failed miserably.
GM disposed of Saab in 2010 and tellingly, went bankrupt themselves too, but Spyker Automotive was unsuccessful in reviving the brand, despite the launch of a stylish new 9-5. While Saab cars have not been sold locally for a number of years, there are still a good number on the roads and the good news is that we are probably the only place where you can still find affordable used Saab spares.