Saab builds the last GM2902 9-5 SportCombi
Photo credit - Teknikens Värld
As the suspense-filled Saab "wind-down"/spin-off saga reached its climax, the Trollhattan factory was busy with their daily schedules, completing the last orders gathered under the GM stewardship. Among them, the last production run of the outgoing Saab 9-5 SportCombi. The very last model of the long-running series rolled off the assembly line at 12:30 on Monday, February 1, 2010.
This event marks the end of the long road the first-generation 9-5 has covered. Originally a fresh vehicle reenergizing Saab sales in the executive class and topping the, for the time being, successful Saab product offensive under GM, it had to soldier on for over 12 years, with just a moderate facelift afforded to it in 2005. The facelift gave the Saab 9-5 the distinctive "bespectacled" face as a means of transition between the toned-down previous and more aggressive future Saab styling, and also the affectionate nickname "Dame Edna", inspired by the Barry Humphries' comedic character with similar penchant for eyewear.
The assembly line workers gathered around the special vehicle, which was optioned-out in everything it could have, including the top-of-the-line 2.3t BioPower engine, also a dying breed as the Saab H series of powerplants are also being retired. The "Snow Silver" car will go directly into the Saab Museum in Trollhattan, joining the very first 9-5, a red sedan.
This is an important moment in both Saab's and GM's history. Not only does it mark an end of an era for Saab, it also marks the end of the GM2900/2902 platform, the predecessor of the modern Epsilon. Originally launched in 1988 in the Opel Vectra A, the GM2900 went on to underpin the Opel Calibra coupe, the second-gen Saab 900 (which was also the first-gen Saab 9-3 by means of a mild facelift), then updated for the Vectra B in 1994, and later stretched by Saab to underpin the 9-5. This stretched version, called GM2902, finally made it to North America in 2000 as the basis for the Opel-engineered Saturn L-Series.
In many ways, the GM2900 was the first attempt at what became the Epsilon programme - bringing together the best GM had in the intermediate class. Epsilon, of course, started out in a much cohesive way and with that clear goal in mind, and now its second generation clearly shows GM has finally arrived at having a global platform flexible and capable enough to provide it with a range of midsize-to-large cars of very different characteristics and target markets.
This is not quite the very end of GM2902 though - Dame Edna is now packing her bags and relocating to China, as the old Saab 9-5 technology and tooling were entirely bought out by Beijing Automotive Corporation (BAIC). With the help of Saab engineers, BAIC intend to create a whole range of new vehicles based upon it - the outcome and their market performance will show how much life there still is in this GM creation.
Written by Bravada based on a story from Teknikens Värld (in Swedish) -> go there for more photos!
As usual, SaabsUnited had the story first