Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The shape of SAABs to come, and Nikolai's new TVR.

The next generation of SAABs could be very interesting...

There's a fair bit of rumour-mongery at the minute. Not that there's anything new in that, but this time it's centred mainly around two brands I've always rather been interested in; SAAB and TVR.

According to Dutch site Autointernationaal, SAAB wants to bring back the spirit of the old 900 with it's next 9-3 range. By this, I mean we're looking at losing the saloon and estate, and possibly looking back to three and five door hatchbacks to complement the cabriolet. SAAB haven't yet confirmed or denied this, but they've just been handed a big cheque by the European Investment Bank which should cover it's development and more besides.

And what for old Trevor's baby? The last I heard of TVR was that the five year old Russian who held the purse strings was planning to close down the Blackpool factory, and re-establish production in Russia. This rumour proved to be half true. It now looks as if Nikolai Smolenski is planning to launch a new car in the near future; to be made in Germany and to use an American V8. Rumours would have us believe that the US V8 is to enable worldwide homologation, as TVR would be looking at the US market amongst others.

But my column is not a news column, it's an opinion column. And a good job, because I'm one of the most opinionated chaps you're likely to meet. So it stands to reason that if I've mentioned these rumours I've got something to say about them. And I have.

I like the rumours about SAAB. It's not two months since I was bemoaning the lack of individuality on the roads, and now it looks like we could see the return of one of my favourite oddball shapes to the roads. A new version of the 900 Classic would be an interesting looking piece of kit, and given SAAB's history of turbocharging it could be made to go rather well. And imagine a 4wd rally version...

The TVR, on the other hand, I'm not so sure about. Alright, the idea of sticking a US lump in a TVR was first coined in the 1960s by Jack Griffith, who 'did a Carroll' Shelby' to the Grantura. And in the UK these cars were sold under the TVR name. But somehow, I can't see a US-friendly German made sports car being a true TVR. I can't see it being a slightly scary, very hairy sportster along the lines of the original Big Healey. This worries me.

We've got Corvette for people who want a sports car with a Yank V8. We've got Porsches for those who want German sportscars. And I can't see a combination of the two working as a TVR. Good luck to the Smolenski boy, but I think I'll wait and see before praising the idea.

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