Rare Rides: The Saab 9-4x - One Last Gasp From 2011

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Would you like a luxury CUV that’s based on a Cadillac, but contains many unique and unobtainium parts? So many rare parts, in fact, that an owner might be scared to put it on the road? Well then, here’s a Saab for you — it’s a 9-4X, from 2011.

In 2011, the Saab brand was just about finished. General Motors relinquished control a year prior as it reorganized and shed brands in its bankruptcy proceeding. Supercar manufacturer Spyker purchased the company, and kept on building Saabs. The 9-4X was forced into existence after the Swedish brand cancelled the planned 9-6X model (based on the Subaru B9 Tribeca). The 9-6X project ground to a halt when General Motors sold its 20 percent holding of Fuji Heavy Industries in 2005.

Realizing the brand needed an SUV offering to replace the GMT360-based 9-7X, GM got to work on the smaller 9-4X. It utilized the upcoming Cadillac SRX platform for economies of scale. The design debuted in near-production form for the 2008 edition of the North American International Auto Show.

The 9-4X was produced in Mexico (a Saab first) on the same line as Cadillac’s new SRX. Two engines powered the 9-4X, both borrowed from Cadillac: an uplevel 2.8-liter turbo V6, and a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter unit. All examples shared the same transmission: a six-speed auto.

Production began in February of 2011, but didn’t last long. Saab was under Spyker ownership, and inked a deal to purchase every 9-4X from General Motors. The fresh 9-4Xs joined the existing 9-3 and 9-5 models in the remaining Saab showrooms in 2011.

But Spyker wasn’t doing well, and it looked like Saab would soon be up for sale again. The company hadn’t exactly paid its bills to GM for the delivered 9-4Xs. General Motors would have none of it. Wanting to prevent a modern platform and engine from falling into the hands of a competitor, GM cited that the proposed change in ownership would not be in the interests of GM shareholders. The General cancelled the selling arrangement. Thus, 9-4X production wrapped up in November 2011.

Surely one of the rarest Saabs, 9-4X production totaled 814 examples. The vast majority were 2011 models, but a reported 60 were labeled as 2012s. Today’s Rare Ride is a 2011 model in top Aero trim. The 2.8-liter engine powers all four wheels via XWD, which is regular all-wheel drive with an “X” in the name. Rear fold-out entertainment screens match well with the dash buttons that already lost their finish. Located north of Tampa (which is in Florida), the silver beauty asks $19,999.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Mar 16, 2019

    I'd rather roll the dice on a 9-2X with the Subaru parts underneath. If you really love Saab you'd be better off finding one with a bad engine/transmission, picking it up for peanuts, and putting the body parts on your XT5.

  • NutellaBC NutellaBC on Mar 16, 2019

    The Saab 9-4X is not really "based" on the Cadillac SRX as both were developed together by a Saab engineer based in Michigan, Peter Dörrich. In a sense, the SRX might be more a Saab than the 9-4X is a Cadillac !

  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain