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1993 Frankfurt Auto Show: Saab 900 SE Premiere

Kamil Kaluski December 3, 2015 All Things Hoon 20 Comments

Every time auto manufacturers show off their new vehicle at one of the many major auto shows around the world, they try to present in an original way. In my years I have seen a flash mod, , obscure Guinness records being set, horrible dance performances, bands, singers, famous chefs, and other similar attempts by auto makers at drawing attention to their new product.

Not so with Saab. In 1993, despite their company, and future, now firmly in the solid and secure hands of a company that is too big to fail, and their new vehicle nickled-and-dimed on the platform, they still chose to show off their engineering rather put on a horse and pony show. Enjoy watching this very interesting premiere.


  • That is, without question, the worst skidpad performance I’ve ever seen.

  • Frank T. Cat

    That cutaway really highlights the problem with my Opel Calibra-derived AWD swap idea. Can you guess what it is?

    • How to get it back together after you’ve cut it down the middle and jammed the rear propshaft and differential into place?

      • Frank T. Cat

        The only cutting I need to do is the floor pan from the rear bulkhead to the rear bumper, and some of the rear wheel wells. Engineering-wise that’s not a problem, since the dimensions of the rear floor pan from the Calibra 4×4 are identical to the NG900. The problem lies in the fact that the rear suspension, driveshaft, and gas tank are all going to want to occupy the same space.

        • bigredcavetroll

          Solid axle with leaf springs and put a fuel cell in the trunk.

          • Frank T. Cat

            The whole reason to use the Calibra A 4×4 system, other than it (mostly) being plug n’ play, is to gain independent rear suspension. I was originally going to use the rear suspension off of an OG9-5, but after owning an OG9-5, I don’t want to use that on my 900 anymore lol.

            On further research, I think the Calibra A mounts the gas tank behind the rear axle vs. in front of the rear axle like the NG900. Soooo, swapping in the Calibra gas tank is probably necessary too.

            • bigredcavetroll

              My response was [mostly] a joke. Is this something you’re strongly considering?

              • Frank T. Cat

                Once I find the money, and someone in Europe willing to cut the ass end off of a Calibra 4×4 for me, and ship that, the transmission/transfer box, and driveshaft in a container to New York.

                • Car_Door

                  You should import a 4×4 calibra, and then keep that as your project car. It is a shame that gm never brought those over to the U.S. as a buick or something, that would have been way more interesting than the reatta.

                  • Frank T. Cat

                    Eh, but then I’d have an AWD Opel and not an AWD SAAB.

                    • Car_Door

                      Either way I would be jealous

          • Vairship

            Hollow axle with leaf springs and put the fuel in the axle.

  • bigredcavetroll

    Gives a new definition to the term lane splitting.

  • Jofes2

    The special thing about having a car industry in a small country is that every new car becomes a matter for the whole population.

    When the second generation 900 was launched, SAAB bought all ad spots for a whole evening in one of the few Swedish commercial TV-channels, making a 35-minute long documentary-like thing in 11 parts, some of them made live.

    It had a total of 3.5 million viewers, with about one million watching the entire thing. Sweden had a population of about 8.7 million in 1993 and about a third of them were watching this at once at its peak, beating everything else on TV that day.

    • That’s amazing!
      What’s the population now?

      • Jofes2

        9.8 million according to Wikipedia. Maybe those ratings should be taken with a grain of salt though because I can’t find anything about this other than the text in the video itself.

  • Sjalabais

    Smooth movements!

    It is amazing to think about how Saab-fans turned their back on this 900 – I grew up thinking this was a sad Opel with a fresh face, influenced by car papers and people I knew. Only Top Gear’s special about Saab, stating how much had been re-engineered in Sweden (and thus driving up costs) made me realize how much work had been put into this; way more than a re-badging. I wonder if better information flow in its time could have made this Saab a better sell.

    • Frank T. Cat

      There’s really not much on the NG900 related to the GM2900 platform that SAAB hadn’t fiddled with. Because of that, GM really clamped down HARD on SAAB’s finances in ~2003, and it really shows. Just look at the interior quality of any 2002 9-5 vs. a 2004 9-5. Or the design/parts quality of any NG9-3 vs. the OG9-3.

  • CraigSu

    I miss Beryl Green paint and Viking wheels.

  • Fuhrman16