The zipper. The computer mouse. Abba. What do all of those have in common? Well, all of those originate from Sweden. Basically, they're Sweden's gifts to the world. But apart from contributions to clothing, technology, and music, Sweden also gave Saab to the automotive industry.
Saab (Svenska Aeroplan AB), regarded by many as the most prominent automaker to come out of Sweden, was established in 1937. Saab wasn't always an automotive brand though. Before the company became known as an automaker in 1945, the company's main business was to build aircrafts for the Swedish Air Force, which was involved in a war. Once the war drew to a close, the demand for aircrafts dipped, forcing Saab to look for other options. They switched to manufacturing automobiles and released its first-ever automobile, the Saab 92, in 1949.
Saab sold the Saab 92 throughout the 50s. They were able to sell approximately 20,000 units, a respectable number for a newcomer in the automotive industry. In the middle of that decade, the company tweaked the existing Saab 92 (which they referred to as the Saab 93) and released a wagon variant of it (called the Saab 95).
1960 marked the first time that Saab released an automobile that was widely imported to other countries. It was called the Saab 96 and it sold over half a million units worldwide despite being just another improved version of the old Saab 92. Eight years after that, Saab released its first car that was truly different from the Saab 92 platform-the Saab 99. This was a bigger landmark year than 1960 was for the company as the Saab 99 was regarded as the car that defined Saab's future models. The Saab 99 had self-repairing bumpers, a wrap-around windscreen, side-impact door beams, and headlamp washers-all of which are trademark features of subsequent Saab vehicles.
Saab in the Modern Era
In 2000, Saab became a subsidiary of General Motors. This union didn't last that long though due to a variety of problems. Saab was then purchased in 2010 by Spyker, a Swedish automotive company. Saab's woes continued, which led the company to face bankruptcy. However, a Chinese-Japanese consortium saved Saab from what could be its demise by acquiring the company in 2012.