Looks like the end of a long and winding road for SAAB. The 'other' Swedish car company, now owned by the Dutch Spyker organization, filed for bankruptcy a few days ago.
Sweden was politically neutral during World War II, but SAAB built some pretty good military airplanes to help defend its homeland, just in case.
Once hostilities ended, the engineers set their skills to land-bound transport.
The original SAAB even looked a bit like an airplane fuselage without wings.
Two-stroke engines initially, and always (at least until nearly the end) front-wheel drive.
SAABs were always unique and characterful. Their cheekiness, plus amazing results in international rallying thanks to Eric "On the Roof" Carlsson's brilliant driving, attracted a small but fanatical customer base.
SAAB was an engineering pioneer in a lot of ways. That front-wheel drive thing, strong in aerodynamics (that airplane heritage), one of the first car makers to introduce turbocharging in semi-mass-market cars.
But it always struggled to find a 'critical mass' market.
When General Motors lost the fight with Ford to buy Jaguar in 1989, The General decided it needed an up-scale European brand anyway, and settled on SAAB.
There were always suspicions that GM didn't really know what it had in SAAB, or exactly what to do with it.
Car-making has always been a capital-intensive business, and it got more so in the late 20th century as ultra-expensive emissions and safety technology especially made it increasingly difficult for small car makers to survive.
GM tried to graft some of the SAAB character onto platforms used for Opels, Cadillacs and other GM models.
The challenge was this: if GM took away the charming SAAB weirdness, they'd lose the traditional SAAB aficionado.
But if they aimed for a wider audience and made SAABs too much like, say, BMWs, why would customers not just buy BMWs?
Which, by and large, they did.
Hey; if Porsche and Volvo could sell SUVs...
Actually, SAAB's suspension engineers didn't do a bad job on the 9-7X; the marketing and sales staffs just couldn't push either of these 'hybrids' (in the pejorative sense of that word) off buildings onto unsuspecting customers.
When GM went through its restructuring a couple of years ago, SAAB was among the first brands tossed out of the lifeboat. If Oldsmobile and Pontiac didn't make it, what chance did SAAB have?
"None," is the answer.
The remains of the company got tossed around, with Dutch, Chinese and Russian interests involved. It could have been a John Grisham novel if only someone had got murdered.
The final nail appeared to be GM's refusal to extend licencing rights for various technologies to a Chinese auto maker, with which GM would be competing in that growing market.
A sad ending to colourful story.