It may well be that there are forces at work to get the SAAB car brand back on their legs again, but it looks somewhat hopeless. Since 2009, when SAAB first went into receivership, the world has lost count of just how many times the gates to the factory in Trollhättan have been closed and locked, only to be reopened again with new hopeful owners. Maybe all this could have been avoided if one had been more aware of the future back in the 1980s?
In 1966, Aldo Garnero began as a designer at Pininfarina. Only three years later he switched to Bertone with the now very famous colleague; Marcello Gandini. In 1971, he began working for Lancia’s Centro Stilo, under the direction of Piero Castagnero, the leading designer behind the magnificent Lancia Beta HPE. Then in 1980, he changed to Aldo Sessano’s study, Open Design and here he meet yet another very creative force when it comes to car design; Paul Breuer.
So far so good; all this just to explain that although Aldo Garnero is not the best known name in car design, his CV is still quite significant. One can safely say that he has spent his career at the very epicenter of Italian car design throughout a vast portion of its golden age. It’s important that we acknowledge this, because in 1986 he founded his own design studio, Euro Design Engineering, along with Joël Brétécher, a Frenchman he met during his three years at Pininfarina. This is where it gets really interesting – especially if you’re among those who mourn the loss of SAAB. In order to promote the capabilities of their new design study and highlight their expertise, they presented a new concept car at the Paris Motor Show: the Fjord 9001.
The Fjord concept was both a small two-door station wagon – or a Shooting Brake as this type of vehicle can also be called – and a coupé variant. Both were based on the SAAB 9000 chassis and mechanicals, and to prove that the concept was more than just some fancy idea, the prototype was in fact fully functional and drivable with all mechanical parts in place. In other words: a real car rather than just a design concept.
This gave the SAAB Group the opportunity to add a smaller car to their program, and judging by the design it even suggests that they could have done so without compromising the brand’s DNA and traditions. Six months earlier, Volvo had revealed their new 480 model at the Geneva Motor Show, and the little SAAB looked like an obvious competitor to take up the battle with the new little Volvo. It could have been a Swedish stand-off…
Aldo Garnero’s plan looked brilliant and certainly held the potential of launching their new drawing office up in the top division. Unfortunately, SAAB did not bite the bait at that time – perhaps not surprisingly, in view of the financial difficulties which already then existed in SAAB’s accounting department. In retrospect though, the idea of a compact and modern SAAB model during the 80s certainly wasn’t a bad one. Who knows? Maybe – just maybe – it could have added just enough to the sales statistics to boost the proud Swedish car brand out of its financial trouble, and thereby avoid the sad fate that was waiting ahead?
Source: Car Design Archives