Like Rolex, Apple or Harley-Davidson, there is something mysterious – albeit modest and Scandinavian – about Saab that, over the years, has transcended its marketing and publicity materials and been appropriated by the people who drive the cars.
The phenomenon has even attracted academic attention. Albert Muniz, an associate professor of marketing at DePaul University in Chicago, has written repeatedly about Saab in his work on “brand communities”. Examining the behaviour of Saab drivers, he has discovered hierarchy, also known as “Snaabery”: often defined by owning an original, pre-GM Saab; rituals and moral responsibilities: flashing your lights at other Saab drivers and helping them out of trouble; oppositional loyalties: despising BMWs; and myth-making: notably “How Saab saved my life” stories about crashes in which the cars lay down their lives for their owners.
The fixation is apparently international. After studying 1.2 million postings on “Motor Talk”, Germany’s largest motoring web forum, Rüdiger Hossiep, a psychologist at the University of Ruhr in Bochum, concluded this summer that Saab drivers have the highest levels of “psychological involvement” with their cars: more than 10 times the passion of the average Volkswagen driver.
Sam Knight in Why the Saab inspires intense feelings