By on December 4, 2013

saab97

On the same day that a Chinese firm announced that it would restart production of the 9-3, I happened to bump into the poster child for Saab’s decline and fall.


This Saab 9-7x can’t be any more than seven years old, but the badge on its nose has already faded away to nothing. The faded cloisonne is almost as much a part of Saab lore as the centrally-located ignition key, and it’s something that should have been fixed long ago. General Motors’s stewardship of Saab was supposed to result in an improved customer experience. That was the promise, but the reality was a few riffs on a European Cavalier and an Oldsmobile Bravada with a nosejob. A bad nosejob, as you can see.

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79 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: And It’s All Small Stuff Edition...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It’s also missing the SAAB script which goes in the center of that bar across the grille. Ha.

    • 0 avatar
      kojoteblau

      The script on the center bar is missing because the 9-7x was a straight up rebadged vehicle. The Saabaru didn’t have it either. SAAB only put the script on “real” SAABs.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Always thought GM was stupid not to take the then almost new 9-5 and 9-4x and make them Buicks. The 9-5 (renamed of course, and with a “Buick” grille) could have been their flagship sedan above the LaCrosse and the 9-4x (new Rendezvous?) could have been positioned between the Encore and Enclave to fill a big hole in Buick’s lineup. They didn’t sell the rights to these two products to the Chinese, so why not have them here as Buicks? Oh well, too late now I guess.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        9-5 = Lacrosse

        9-4X = GMC Terrain

        Buick/GMC dealers get to sell both.

        • 0 avatar
          mmarreco

          Not right, the 9-4X uses the Theta “Premium” platform which is shared with the Cadillac SRX. The Terrain uses the regular Theta, shared with the Equinox.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yes I know. I was being overly simplistic. I was pointing out that the hole in the Buick lineup can be filled at the same dealership by the GMC Terrain. The rumor before was that the Acadia would be moving to the Theta Premium platform for its next generation. That would give Buick/GMC dealers 4 unique CUVs.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    jvv will be here any moment to tell you about the $20k 2005 Saab 9-3 we all should have bought, as they’re more reliable and better than Camry and Accord – all day long. You also get better dealer service. He ALMOST bought one, that’s how good they were.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      LMAO!!!!

      That said though, I am definitely looking at a Saab 9-3 SportCombi for wifey’s next ride. Aside from the defunct brand the cars are actually not that bad.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    The badge didn’t fade away; the plastic applique in the center is gone. Either the adhesive gave up, or somebody pried it loose.

    http://rackattackminneapolis.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/sam_0801.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      Meanwhile, on earlier Saabs, the paint flaked off of the emblems – same deal as with BMW roundels back in the day. My ’96 has a completely silver rear emblem and only a few flecks of red and blue paint left on the hood’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Hell, my F-250’s logo blue is almost all gone in the front, and it’s only a 2007…

      I think I’d prefer a glued-on logo, as it’d be much easier to replace if it fell off.

  • avatar

    I’ve lost count of how many Saabs I’ve seen with shiny emblems because the overlay popped off. Quality product right there.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Silicone is expensive. Use sparingly.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Worst thing to be phased out in the 1960’s: baked enamel emblems. Now, THOSE lasted. Only modern vehicle I’ve seen with said is the Fiat Abarth.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The enamel emblem bakers wanted too much money. We lost more than the emblem on the hood: the emblem on the steering wheel (which would have hurt if the airbag went off), and the enamel gauge faces, plus some ash tray lids on the door handles of high end models. That silver sparkle, brushed aluminum and plastichrome just doesn’t cut it.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Plenty of Ford Mondeo here with the same issue. Also some BMWs.

    • 0 avatar
      jcain

      My parents have had 4 Saabs (no Trollblazer, though), and they have all had the color wear off the badges.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      So? My BMW badge was gone in one bad snow storm. I think abrasive road salt got it. Means absolutely nothing about product quality. These things are very easy to replace, big deal.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        It does say something about attention to detail on the part of the product design, especially to those of us who aren’t sold on the BMW value proposition.

        That’s doubly true when my 10 year okd Toyota minivan doesn’t have this problem. Toyotas typically cost ab Po ut 2/3rds as much as BMW, and my van can haul more people and stuff in speedy comfort. So, if BMW wants to sell me something at that kind of premium, the xar has tl be absolutely perfect.

        A logo may be a small thing, but it’s easy to spot and has everything to do with brand perception and image. As a comouterman, my eye for detail is what keeps me employed and at a salary range where low-end luxury cars are marketed at me. But those details are also the kind of thing that gets me looking for other oversights. And, with a brand thst charges such an extreme premium for what I believe to be mostly image and branding, anything that detracts from image and branding seems like a huge problem.

        I’ll keep my Toyota minivan, thanks.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Along with the 9-2x this was the best Saab sold since the original 900’s produciton ended.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Re: the Saab re-start only one question in my mind, WHY?

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I’ve seen my fair share of BMW’s that have the same problem. Either the emblems get popped off by petty thieves or they’ve cracked and faded to bits.

    Either way, most of the time its not the car’s fault… unless its a 2004-2008 Ford F150, sadly. Those Ford emblems never hold up past 5 years old. Don’t believe me? Go look at just about any grille emblem of that generation F150… unless its been replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      I’ve seen that on a lot of F150’s also (the fender mount badges have the same problem too). A company New Beetle we had a few years ago also had a faded out logo on the rear hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      I’m pretty sure F-150s get their emblems from the same parts bin as all of the other models; and all of the older ones I have seen are fine; including mine.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        The ones on the F-series and E-series are MUCH larger than the ones found on the sedans. I’ve owned two ’04-’08’s, my neighbor has one, four people at my current unit have one… and EVERY one of them has delaminating grille badges.

        I know its “anecdotal evidence” but three states (TX, VA, and SC), and seven different examples of the same generation and product line prove 100% concurrent problems. I will say though, the replacement badges are not expensive. I did it on both of mine.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      It was as recent as 2012 that Ford PD realized their DVP&R (PV test) was flawed. They made a lot of sh1t badges. It wasn’t until the manufacturing process degraded to the point where badges would delaminate within a few months and a few thousand miles that the root cause was identified. I’m guessing warranty claims weren’t high enough and the PVT teams at each plant couldn’t motivate Product Development enough to make the necessary changes. Once it was visible to the quality department, it seemed the fix was dispatched.

      Edit: not all badges were impacted – most of the chrome based badges with color were garbage.

  • avatar
    PCP

    I bought one – Saab 900 II 3 door Coupe, already on the GM Platform, with the 2.3l Saab engine, manual. Bought it used, put quite a few more kmiles on it, and abolutely loved it. Of course the nose badge faded (actually chipped) away. So what.

    Roomy, classy, comfortable car. Good road manners, decent fuel economy. I even started looking for the convertible one and ended with a Z3 – don’t try to understand. And kept the Saab, of course. MOT and newborn child then convinced me to go for a 5-door, diesel powered family van.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    A friend of mine had an old 9-5 that did that. He called it the “Silver Series”. Amazingly in 5 years of ownership of my 9-3, it managed to hold on its badges.

  • avatar
    cmd

    I actually own a 9-7X. I needed an SUV and I wanted something with a decent amount of amenities for a low price. The 9-7X was far and away the best value on the used market. I have now owned mine for almost five years and 109,000 miles and it has been a decent vehicle. Definitely not the most reliable vehicle ever made but no worse than the TrailBlazer it is based off of which is acceptable. I also own a SAAB 9-3 and I will be the first to admit the 9-7X is not a real SAAB but it is a decent SUV none the less. It filled a void in SAAB’s line up and I can’t really fault them for selling it. To SAAB’s credit my 9-7X’s interior panel gaps are Japanese tight, something you would not find on a TrailBlazer and the handling is much improved. Overall a decent SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The 9-7X was assembled in Moraine, OH with all the other GMT360s. It would have been the same GM UAW factory workers that made the Trailblazer making sure the 9-7X had tight panel gaps.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I was hoping someone would point that out. 9-7x owners seem to have a hard time coming up with why their cars are better than the other 6 Trailblazer variants offered.

        • 0 avatar
          CoastieLenn

          Dashboard was better…. looking.

          Oh, and the Saab key location.

          That’s all I can come up with.

          Oh, and the 9-7X Aero was MUCH better looking than the TBSS.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t like the key location. Your keys swivel about on the console if you have key chains or lots of keys. This causes wear marks and makes too much noise.

            The dash had more manufactured wood, I’ll give you that.

            Oh I know, the wheel designs were better than the TB/Envoy/Rainier/Bravada/Ascender versions.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          It was basically a resurection of the Bravada. Not that I think that is a bad thing. I think the 9-7X would have made a better Oldsmobile than Saab. I am biased though. Between my sister and I, we have owned 5 Oldsmobiles. I think its mostly a function of dead General brands being so cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        cmd

        I am well aware of its lineage. If you compare to a TrailBlazer you will definitely find better panel gaps though. Not that it’s really anything special but if you drive one and another GMT360 back to back you will notice that the 9-7X is a much nicer vehicle. Is it on par with other luxury SUVs? No, not really but the price makes up for it not to mention GM parts are cheap.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I like the 9-7X. I understand its appeal in a weird way. I notice the panel gabs on my Lincoln MKT are better than the Flex produced on the same line. However, it doesn’t share any body panels at all.

          When comparing gaps and such, make sure to compare it to a Bravada or Rainier. The 9-7X has the body of a Bravada with a “Face-Off” style face replacement. It is also lowered an inch or so.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          It kind of makes sense. I worked at a supplier that did several iterations of GM product. Out of the same dies, we had parts for the GMX381, and the damned tolerances were different for 3 different cars on the Epsilon platform. It was ridiculous. Same tool, 3 different sets of tolerances. F you, GM.

          What you’re seeing is likely an interior designed with lessons learned form prior GMT360’s or a supplier pulling magic out of their *ss.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim_Turbo

      But when they were on the market new I didn’t find them to be cost competitive, since all it is just a fancy Trailblazer with a few unique “saab” touches. If I remember correctly, a v-8 9-7X was around 10K more than a v-8 Trailblazer. The Saab grill, center mounted key, clear tail light lenses, and oval exhaust etc might fool some people-but it was not worth 10K (at least to me). Oh yeah-they “tweaked” the suspension.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    I don’t think there’s Saab out there who’s badge hasn’t peeled off. Hell, there’s a small cottage industry based on replacements.

    It’s a shame really, because the griffin badge is one of the sexiest around.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Nearly every older Saab I’ve seen has sported partially or totally faded badges.

    It seems to happen with some BMW badges too. Seems to be a pitfall of “full color” badges as opposed to those made entirely of chrome, i.e. the Honda (or Hyundai) H, Toyota Oval-T, Mercedes star, etc.

    Of course, it’s more ironic and heartbreaking on a Saab. It’s like when you see people disappearing in photos in the Back to the Future films.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I would have thought the Saabaru would do better.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    Now I’m going to have They Might Be Giants’ “Cloisonne” in my head all morning. Which isn’t a bad thing.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    http://www.mad4wheels.com/webpics/hires/00004913%20-%201999%20Saab%209-3%20Viggen%20coup%C3%A9/1999_Saab_9-3_Viggen_coup%C3%A9_011_5854.jpg

    My favorite Saab I think, or maybe some special edition 9000.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    a lot of these types of badges use a film with the desired logo/lettering printed on them, then heat-set onto the plastic/metal badge substrate. Problem is the substrate is usually either chrome-plated pot metal or a “chrome” plated (vacuum-vapor deposited aluminum) plastic piece.

    both aluminum and chrome are absolute bitches to get decorative films to stick to, especially paint.

  • avatar
    cmd

    Forgot to mention in 109,000 miles the 9-7X has been through three rear badges but curiously the front badge is still original.

    My 9-3 at 70K has both original badges.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    It’s George Bush’s fault!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Am I the only one who thinks that front end (minus the chrome disk where a griffin used to be) could be a dead ringer for the current Chrysler 200?

  • avatar
    Windy

    Real cloisonné does not fade if you went to that Colorado field full of old cars that have been baking for decades you would find those with the real thing have badges just as bright as new(they might need to have a grt plains sandblasted finish re polished ) the later badges that started to be made of plastic will have crazed and cracked clear tops but many of these can be saved as well. But the real cloisonné badges last… They are also a lot more expensive to make than plastic or transfer based badges. The fact is that some car makers ( even those that have come to engineer cars that are good for 200,000+ miles) have folks whose bean counter driven trim designers are set to design longevity thinking locked to the old 80,000 to 100,000 mile and dead design era. This is also seen in interior trim that out gases plasticizers so quickly that after 8 years or so of south west sun they are a brittle as a stale piece of toast.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      My wife’s 06 9-3 did exactly that – both front and back. The thin, four-color plastic overlay mounts directly on a chrome round mount, inside of which is a colorless outline of the logo. After six years of repeated runs through the carwash, summer days baking in the sun, and a few midwest winters of snow and ice, the clear plastic overlays stripped away.

      The solution: Go online (I recommend eBay) and get replacement logos. Order the diameter appropriate for your Saab’s year and model, rough up the chrome mount with steel wool, clean thoroughly with acetone, then peel and stick the new logos (roughly $15 for a pair – mine were bootlegged via Argentina). The replacements are soft plastic – pliable and slightly raised, and look just as good as the originals; hopefully they’ll last longer.

      Certain BMW roundels were plagued by the same problem and the same guy on eBay can hook you up with BMW replacement badges as well.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    The only Saab I would ever consider is the Saaburex.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Doesn’t Dykes have one of these?

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Say what you want, but the trifecta of orphan brand plus low production plus no one knows what it is results in a maelstrom of bargain-bargain-bargain when buying a 9-7X. You get sassy Sweedish exterior touches with a superior domestic powertrain for less than a comparable Envoy.

    Just don’t ever need bodywork ever.

    Also, the 9-7X did something 50+ years of Sweedish engineering couldn’t – provide an all-weather vehicle that is reliable, relatively robust, and wrenchable by even a half-competent mechanic.

  • avatar
    CurseWord

    Our nostalgia needs to learn to let go. There’s too many car companies these days and not enough customers. I feel bad for the people that lost their jobs at SAAB, but times change, companies get better, and GM had to cut the fat. We all liked the idea of Saab, an idea we created in our heads, but did many of us buy them? No. They were expensive and problematic, and not that good looking.

    Grandma is 98, on dialysis. Let her go.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “There’s too many car companies these days and not enough customers.”

      Exactly.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      It isn’t nostalgia. It’s that everyone makes the same car, except it looks a little different and costs a little more or less. The Toyotafication of the car market is a sad thing for some of us. I understand the regulatory and market forces at work here, and I know it’s not going to change. Those of us who are sad to see SAAB go aren’t all misty-eyed fools who think they were all 90-MPG, 200-MPH bags of turbocharged awesome that ran for a million miles with only oil changes. But the fact that a company who did things differently and offered a product outside the mainstream is now defunct makes some of us feel like there isn’t a product left that’s made for the discerning/adventuresome/weird/expressive people.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim_Turbo

        We have been getting quite a few Saab customers over here at Subaru, which is mildy surprising. In my head I have it that Volvo would be the most logical choice, but I guess even though Subaru has become more mainstream as of late, they are still quirkier than the Camcords of the world.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          I have an ’04 Aero convertible as my play car, and recently bought an Outback to replace my Trooper as a daily driver. What attracted me to the Subaru was the boxer engine and AWD. And that, like the Saab, Subaru is still relatively uncommon here in Texas. I love my car in the torrential rains we frequently get.

          The Aero’s trunk label fell off; $15 on ebay for a new one. Oddly enough the wheel emblems all darkened past recognition; I replaced with the Saab-Scania design for $20.

  • avatar
    lon888

    I guess you haven’t seen any 3-5 year old BMW’s from here in the great southwest. Around these parts we gauge the age of a BMW by how faded the propeller roundel is. By 5 to 7 years its just an aluminum disk. Fine enduring German craftsmanship.

  • avatar
    CarGal

    Sometimes I miss my Saab 900 Turbo convertible. College car. Good times.


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