by J Kraus
Saab could find a ready market today by becoming what German cars used to be. The upscale German cars of today are more like the American cars of yore rather than the German cars of just a few decades ago. Too often overly styled, overweight and overwrought, they are in many ways the polar opposite of the handsome, understated and functional German machinery of days past.
After becoming ascetic to near-monasticity with cars like the W201 190 and W124 E-Klasse with their Wehrmacht-grey window mouldings and trim and starkly elegant simplistic interiors, the Germans have firmly reversed course, heartily embracing glitz and flamboyance.
I do not mean to single out Mercedes. I recall a few years ago when Porsche debuted the Carrera GT. On display next to it was a vintage 550 Spyder. The contrast between the two was disheartening. On the handsome 550, there was nothing superfluous. The whole car, inside and out, spoke of design; design for a purpose. The new Carrera GT on the other hand shouted out styling for the sake of style: the decoratively fluted exhaust outlets, the interior with its overuse of glare-inducing brightwork and the front lamp clusters with their strange turbine-look headlamp rings.
With the capitulation of the Germans, more and more cars are seemingly meant to resemble fighter aircraft, spaceships, robots… anything but automobiles.
Saab, with their history of straightforward Nordic practicality and sober styling are well positioned to step into this void. There is a dearth of simple, functionally handsome and practical vehicles at the moment, and this is a gap in the market that Saab would do well to target.