The Random Griffith

Bring back weird Swedish cars

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 25/02/2010

Now that General Motors has completed the sale of SAAB to low-volume luxury Dutch carmaker Spyker Cars, it’ll be interesting to see what develops. I read the news of the transfer this morning, and the first thing I thought of was, wouldn’t it be really cool if Spyker brought back a modernized version of the SAAB 92, with its aerodynamic teardrop body, along the lines of what Volkswagen did with its New Beetle, BMW did with its acquired Austin-Morris brands’ Mini (but, alas, no front-entry BMW Isetta) and FIAT’s Nuevo 500? Then I clicked on the car blog Jalopnik and found this sweet entry.

The SAAB 92 was idiosyncratic to say the least, powered as it was by a two-stroke two-banger. Later iterations of the teardrop body design were bulked up a bit, first the 93 and then the 96, many of which made it to America. Those cars were powered by a Ford Europe V-4 plant. They’re pretty cool looking, too.

If Volvo, which Ford is in the process of selling to Chinese carmaker Geely, won’t get round to building an updated PV 444/544 (or even an Amazon!), a modernized SAAB 92 will do nicely. And, yeah, I’m a sucker for weird Euro cars, and I tend to really like the updated versions (save the Volkswagen New Beetle, which I think missed the mark a bit. Just my opinion, really; your mileage may differ.

Yes, I’m a sucker for oddball Euro iron. Give me a few billion bucks, and I’ll revive Borgward. —Jackson Griffith


6 Responses

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  1. Warren Bishop said, on 25/02/2010 at 09:22

    Borgward!! Oh man, my old guitar playing buddy in high school had one of those. We drove out from Anaheim to Devonshire Downs for Newport ’69 and crashed for a couple of hours in the parking lot in that thing. Got in for the festival and watched the L.A.S.O. beat the shit out of the hippies for about 12 hours when we weren’t distracted by the music. Got very wrecked on hash and only remember the “Four Sail” era Love, Jethro Tull and God help me, The Friends of Distinction. We bailed before CCR due to exhaustion and drove the Borgward home.

  2. jaxong said, on 25/02/2010 at 09:30

    Beautiful cars. Borgward also built Hansa, Goliath, Lloyd and maybe a couple of other marques. The Hansa cars were quite beautiful. Borgward went belly -up in the earl ’60s, but in retrospect should have been able to iron out its problems, get financing and continue.

    I’m a big fan of oddball euro car brands, like DKW-Auto Union (now Audi), Renault, Peugeot, Panhard, Citroen (too lazy to go get the proper umlauts). My all-time fave is the Czech rear-engine behemoth Tatra, I think maybe the 603 model. I’ll post the vids for those soon.

    • Warren Bishop said, on 26/02/2010 at 04:12

      They made Goliath too? That’s nuts! My stepdad had one of those when he and my mom got married. My mom used to call it “that Goddamn Goliath”; she demanded a new car, so we got a 1961 Corvair. I think my stepdad wrecked the Goliath in 1962; that was what knocked him out of the recording biz, having lost 70% hearing in his right ear from the accident. He wound up with a Renault Caravelle which I eventually got for my first car.

  3. jaxong said, on 25/02/2010 at 09:31

    Oh, and Friends of Distinction rule. I love their version of Hugh Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass,” but it’s the song “Going in Circles” that I’ve been wanting to cover for years, slowed down and sexy Elvis Costello style.

  4. Brandon Weber said, on 27/02/2010 at 12:27

    My first car was a 1978 Saab Turbo. I loved that car!,14112/1978-Saab-99-Turbo_photo.aspx

    • jaxong said, on 27/02/2010 at 16:37

      That’s when SAABs were great, quirky cars, before GM turned them into Swedish Opels, and even before SAAB hooked up with FIAT for some ill-fated iron. Lucky you. Those SAAB turbos went like a bat out of hell.

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