The Swedish are coming. The Swedish are coming. And it was well worth the wait.
As General Motors plunged into bankruptcy, almost exactly a year ago, it became increasingly apparent the maker would have to abandon as many as four of its North American brands, including Saab. And though GM hoped to find a buyer for the long-troubled brand it seemed all too likely the Scandinavian maker might be forced to shutter its sprawling design, engineering and assembly operations in the Swedish town of Trollhattan.
It would have been not only an ignominious but ironic end to the marque, which emerged out of the aircraft industry shortly after the Second World War. That’s because, after years of producing generally lackluster products, Saab finally seemed poised to launch an all-new version of the 9-5 sedan, a product that finally seemed to live up to the high expectations of long-suffering loyalists – and draw in a new generation of buyers, as well.
But, late last year, even as GM began the process of shutting down Saab, the proverbial white knight rode in – in the form of Victor Muller, CEO of Dutch-based Spyker, a maker of low-volume, high-priced supercars. After some desperate bargaining – and the helping hand of the European Investment Bank – Muller clinched the deal and took control of Saab. But not before GM disbanded the maker’s board, shut its Trollhattan assembly line and told suppliers to cancel parts orders.