November 28, 2012

The Station Wagon Is Undead: Zombie Saab 9-5 SportCombi Auction


While we're on the subject of unusual cars in Scandinavia...

The Saab liquidation auctions are still going on, including a round on Dec. 15&16 in Tjörn, Sweden, which, really? Wow, it's like BF Gothenburg, a little less than halfway to my new favorite Swedish city, Trollhattan. But this is really just me stalling to avoid the depressing news.

Because as Saab was struggling to find money and/or a buyer to stay alive in 2011, they were also unveiling a very fine-looking new wagon, the 2012 9-5 SportCombi, which was all ready to go, just waiting for someone's, anyone's check to clear before. Swedish factory operators are standing by!


And no. The SportCombi never made it to market, in the US or anywhere. Just 33 SportCombis were produced before the whole Saab story came to an end. Six of those, we're told, were destroyed in testing. Of the remaining 27, 18 are included among the 69 leftovers being sold at the Dec. 15 auction. [The Geneva show car seems to be among the missing.]


They come in various trim levels and engine/transmission configurations, including 180hp 4-cylinders and 190hp 4-cyl diesels, up to a 300hp Turbo6. There are many XWDs, and a few 6-speed automatics, but mostly 6-speed manuals. They're all EU-spec. There's just one RHD example. Kilometrage ranges from 2k-45k; with a few exceptions, the condition seems pretty solid-to-excellent.

And they're all being sold as deregistered "used test cars," with no EU Certificate of Conformity, which must "absolutely not be driven on the road."

Saab Auction, Dec. 15-16 [kvdauctions via dt]
Geneva 2011 | Saab 9-5 SportCombi specs revealed for US [autoblog]


So many choices. How quickly a car goes from "you can't have one" to "what kind do you want" to "absolutely not be driven on the road."

And while some owners may have spent the last decade or so thinking they were driving Saabs, Saab really died long before 2011. The 9-5 SportCombi with XWD would truly be a unique offering in the US but the rest of these vehicles can be "enjoyed" in other incarnations at your favorite Chevy, Buick or Cadillac dealer.

And while I can understand executives at GM no longer believing that they should be selling Saabs (at least the Saabs that they were making), I can't for the life of me understand how those executives think the world needs this:

Are we sure there's no way to scam the EPA/DOT/NHTSA into letting us import one of these and driving it on our sacred US highways? Because, sadly, these are the best looking wagons Saab ever made. Or will make, as it turns out. You live in DC, maybe you can fake some diplo plates and get away with it.

I think "only one in America" should qualify for Show and Display. Or just, you know, apply your own VIN from a 2011--they have early '11 build dates. Who's gonna know? Not that I condone that sort of victimless crime.

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