Spyker Rescues Saab -- For Now

Last Updated Jan 27, 2010 3:54 PM EST

It's impossible for me to join the celebration over Spyker Cars rescuing Saab from near-extinction, as much as I like Saab and admire in some ways the Swedish way of doing things.

Putting Saab on life support is just that - life support, postponing the inevitable.

Like a lot of Americans, my fondest memories of Saab are now more than 40 years old.

In my small hometown, the one Saab driver was a piano teacher, originally from Denmark. She lived at least a mile away, but whenever she came over, it seemed like you could hear her car from the moment she started it up until she arrived in our driveway. She was always in a cloud of her own making, of cigarette smoke and burning motor oil.

Rugged individualists like that, many of them Scandinavians, made the Saab brand what it is today - quirky, lovable, but hopelessly out of date. There's no room in the world today for a car company like Saab that builds fewer than 1 million cars a year, unless it can command a big premium price, like Porsche - or Spyker.

"The news that Saab will live to see another day is great for consumers looking for individuality," commented James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelly Blue Book.

That's true, but there aren't enough Saab enthusiasts to go around. Today's customers want everything: individuality, reliability, and value for the money, even if it's a lot of money. Saab delivers a lot of those things, but at small volumes and without sufficient snob appeal, there's no way it can deliver all those things at once.

Photo: Saab