Posts from ‘Saab’
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
Disappointingly, such companies as Volkswagen (whose symbol is VW) and Ford (Ford) have refused to join in the fun. But many of the other logos have fascinating meanings. Let’s explore. . . .
The Acura logo plays with our minds a little. Most observers think the logo is a stylized letter A, for Acura, just like Honda’s logo is a stylized H for Honda. But according to Honda (Acura’s parent company), the image is a caliper, a design instrument used for measuring thickness.
The Alfa Romeo badge pays tribute to its home city, Milan, Italy. It features the city’s coat of arms, which symbolizes Milan’s two ruling families during medieval times. On the left is a red cross, a Christian symbol of heraldry that represents the right of a person to bear arms. On the right, a serpent devours a human being, interpreted by some as a Muslim—that is, the enemy of the Christians during the Crusades.
Here in Chicago, at least, we’re finally seeing signs of spring. And every year about this time, I start thinking about convertibles.
Since ragtops aren’t really practical as daily transportation in these parts (especially where I live in the city, where anyone with a pocketknife can cut their way into your car), I always think of a convertible as being a “weekend” ride. Trouble is, it’s really tough to justify the expense of insurance and license plates for a car you only drive occasionally—and even then, only half the year.
But get one old enough, and that’s not so much of an issue. When a car turns 25 years old, it’s considered a “classic” by some insurance companies and state licensing agencies, meaning both insurance and license-plate fees can be cut tremendously. So whenever I start thinking of convertibles, I also start thinking about any that just turned that “classic” corner.
This year, it’s the 1988 models. However, not many new ragtops appeared that year, so I’m also including a trio of one-year-olds I missed on last year’s list (partly because some were late-year additions), all of which were also offered in ’88.
Sarcastically, it was called badge engineering. Basically, it’s the process by which an automaker amortizes development costs by retrimming an existing vehicle and selling it under another name—usually through another brand channel, or channels.
Many of us can recall the Chrysler Corporation’s “Grand Fifthlomat” of the Eighties, a single vehicle that came to the public thinly disguised as the Plymouth Grand Fury, Chrysler Fifth Avenue, and Dodge Diplomat. Three cars on one chassis ain’t bad, but General Motors has done better—much better.
Behold here the most recent and most egregious example ever of badge engineering: the RainTrail Asscendavadavoy-X.
Actually a fine truck by most measures, the RainTrail Asscendavadavoy-X (all six corporate variants, that is) disappeared ahead of schedule not because the buying public raged against the obvious product cloning, but because gas prices were rendering largish body-on-frame SUVs obsolete.
To be fair, GM did a better than decent job of keeping each vehicle distinct, as the photos below demonstrate. Still, it’s hard to argue that the company wasn’t seriously pushing its luck.
Since my daily commute takes me through some of Chicago’s wealthy northern suburbs, it’s not that unusual for me to see some interesting cars. Recent sightings include a Fisker Karma, an Audi A8 W12, and a McLaren MP4-12C. Bentleys are surprisingly common, and I probably see at least a couple Lamborghinis a month when the weather is nice.
But this morning in oncoming traffic I saw something I’ve never seen on the road before, a Saab 9-4X. It’s not particularly exotic, but it has to be plenty rare. If you haven’t been following the Saab bankruptcy drama, the 9-4X was the very-short-lived crossover SUV that was based largely on the Cadillac SRX and assembled at a GM plant in Mexico.
This got me to thinking: How many 9-4Xs actually made it into customer hands? My Google research produced several different production totals. All were comfortably under 1,000, but Automotive News reports 9-4X production at 457 units. The same source states that 267 were sold in 2011. An online search came up with 15 used 9-4Xs for sale. So, presumably some of these vehicles are being driven daily. I’d guess owning a low-production vehicle sold by a bankrupt car company introduces many challenges and headaches that I can’t even comprehend.