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When the Saab car division of Saab-Scania was restructed as an independent company, Saab Automobile AB, in 1989, General Motors took a 50% stake, for US $600m, with an option to acquire the remaining shares from Investor AB within a decade.

This option was exercised in 2000 with General Motors acquiring the remaining 50% for US $125m.

Despite being a wholly owned subsidiary of GM, Saab never received the investment it deserved with planned vehicles being canned, sometimes late into their development, leaving Saab with an aging, two-model vehicle line-up.

Deteriorating performance across GM as a whole, during the mid to latter noughties, led to the announcement of Saab being “under review”, in December 2008.

Starved of investment, robbed of its innovations and denied it’s profits, Saab was very much the unloved European cousin in the GM brand portfolio.

During the course of 2009, GM received interest from, it has been reported, up to 27 potential buyers with serious talks taken up with three bidders.

GM, itself, was in a poor state having gone into Chapter 11 administration to protect it from its creditors. Support for a sale of Saab by GM as good as disappeared with the American motor monolith seemingly intent on closing down it’s Swedish subsidiary.

What GM underestimated now, and during their entire stewardship of Saab, was the intense affection and loyalty held by owners and enthusiasts worldwide for the innovative Swedish manufacturer.

This incredible support was crystallised by Mobilform Dresden in Germany – who set up Rescue Saab - and Steven Wade of, at the time, a blog called Saabsunited - based in a small Saab outpost called Tasmania.

Within days Rescue Saab had the support of numerous Saab dealers, suppliers, customers and over 10,000 supporters worldwide. Support that would continue to grow and play out in cruises and demonstrations around the world.

In late 2009, GM announced that Saab would be wound down. GM stopped accepting bids in a self-imposed deadline on 26 January 2010, with confirmation that an agreement had been made with Spyker of The Netherlands to acquire Saab.

Thus began a new, if uncertain era in the history of Saab.

Useful links:

Rescue Saab – the best people in the unlikely event you need to rescue just one Saab.


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