To gearheads, the turbulent times Swedish carmaker Saab is facing really pulls at the heart strings. It's one of an elite group of makers that real car enthusiasts like to know is around, even if they wouldn't buy the products themselves.
Having had its personality and vitality steadily eroded under General Motors ownership for the past two decades and having struggled to meet the bills of creditors in recent weeks under current owners Spyker, many are fearing the formerly quirky marque is doomed.
All is not lost though. U.K. magazine Autocar reports that Saab is lining up a bid to buy the rights to BMW's platform for the current MINI. If successful, the platform would form the basis for the touted 9-1 compact car, a spiritual successor to the 92 and 96 Saabs of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and possibly inspired by the styling of the PhoeniX concept shown at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
BMW is expected to replace the current R56-generation MINI in late 2012 and there have already been moves tieing Saab to BMW in engine sharing deals, so platform sharing would be a logical step.
The premium small car segment is booming at the moment with models from MINI, Fiat with the 500, and in Europe the Audi A1 and Citroen DS3. Saab wants a slice of the action and current chairman Victor Muller is keen to break into the small car market with a unique design inspired by the classic Saab models.
We think the MINI platform could be perfect for an upcoming small Saab. It's already known for great road manners, and is suitable for a range of engines including turbocharged units. There's even the potential to fit BMW's upcoming 3-cylinder engines, which whilst not two-stroke like the Saabs of old, would certainly be fitting successors.
A small, fun Saab? Maybe those non-Saab owning gearheads will finally have a reason to reach into their pockets...