Saab is a Sweden-based wholly-owned division of General Motors that produces a range of upmarket sedans, convertibles, wagons and sport utility vehicles. All of Saab's used products blur the line between sport and luxury, offering hallmark Saab styling coupled with performance and luxury amenities. Also present on almost every Saab vehicle is the quirky console-mounted ignition, a design feature said to reduce knee injuries during accidents.
Saab's recent "Born From Jets" marketing campaign is a nod toward the company's aerospace history. While the name of the company is now widely recognized as Saab, the four letters were originally an acronym. Saab stood for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (Swedish Airplane Corporation). The company was formed in 1938 in Trollhatten, Sweden to produce aircraft for the Royal Swedish Air Force. Saab produced military aircraft based on German, American, and in-house designs throughout World War II. After WWII, Saab expanded its line to include non-military aircraft. The Saab defense, aviation, and space company still produces military and civilian aircraft.
Saab's interest in automobile manufacturing was sparked as WWII came to an end and Saab's leadership foresaw the need to expand from the aircraft business. While the market in Sweden for motorcycles, trucks, and cars had already been entered in full-force by companies such as Volvo, automobiles were a natural move for Saab. The company applied its extensive experience designing aerodynamic aircraft to its automobiles. This aerospace heritage has led Saab to introduce many automotive industry firsts, such as standard headrests, side-impact beams, headlamp wipers, heated seats, cabin air filter, asbestos-free brake pads, CFC-free air conditioning, and many others.
Saab's first car, the Saab 92001 prototype, featured a two-stroke engine, front wheel drive, and a safety cage design. Production of the Saab 92 started in late 1949, featuring a drag coefficient lower than many of today's cars. Over 20,000 Saab 92s were built between 1949 and 1956, at which point Saab introduced the Saab 93. Also in 1956, Saab unveiled its first sports car, the Sonett. Only six Sonett sports cars were produced, but the experience introduced Saab to the world of sports cars, which would influence Saab vehicles from that point onward. In 1959, Saab introduced its first wagon. Wagons would become a staple of the Saab lineup.
Saab Acquisition by General Motors
General Motors purchased a 51 percent controlling interest in Saab Automobile in 1990 and acquired the outstanding shares of the automobile division in 2000, making Saab a wholly-owned subsidiary of GM. The defense, aviation and space division is now a separate company. In 2011 Saab announced bankruptcy and 2012 was the last model year to be produced. There are lots of good used Saab cars still on the market though.