Eric Mayne's Blog

Another Saab Story


Hear that?

That's the sound of a nationwide shrug. A big "whatev."

It greets reports that suggest Mercury's demise is imminent. Ford is essentially mum on the prospect -- a tragedy, if only from an historic perspective.

Edsel Ford chose the name for the premium brand later linked fondly with cars such as the Meteor and Marauder. (As a kid, my favorite Hot Wheels toy was a tricked-out Cougar Mattel dubbed "Nitty Gritty Kitty.")

And according to Ward's digital archives, which cover slightly less than half of Mercury's 71-year market span, the brand has contributed some 10.7 million unit-sales to FoMoCo's books.

Yet talk of a world without Mercury evokes no mourning. Ditto before GM pulled the plug on Pontiac. And silenced Saturn.

You can hardly say there was hue and cry over Hummer.

So why was there caterwauling about killing Saab? Sales volumes were miniscule. Profits were a pipe dream.

Yet, consumers rallied in sufficient numbers to inspire Spyker's Victor Muller to open his wallet and save the day.

"Historically speaking, Saabs were incredibly versatile cars," says aficionado Steven Wade, who orchestrated from Tasmania an online protest that reverberated worldwide.

"You could go to the hardware store in the morning, to the track in the afternoon and to the opera at night -- and the car would look right in all three situations. This, combined with their excellent driving characteristics, comfort and safety, is why they built up such a cult following.... That's why people thought this company was worth fighting for."

Except for the Saabaru (Subaraab?) 9-2x and the 9-7x Chevy Trailblazer clone, Saabs possess a unique character. The 9-3 and 9-5 model lines owe much to their GM DNA, but still they remain set apart, beneficiaries of that elusive quality (especially in this era of intensified platform-sharing) known as differentiation.

Apparently, they never heard of such a thing at Mercury.

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