Back in the corporate heydays of GM, before the Detroit automaker went bust, the General would re-badge just about anything it could get its hands on if it were to make a fast buck without breaking a sweat.
This lazy corporate mentality was not only limited to GM’s American products but it spread throughout the entire company. Saab and even Subaru were subjected to this crude process, which was mostly limited to swapping badges and grilles.
When GM controlled the fate of Saab and held a 20 percent share of Subaru, the Detroit company’s executive gurus came up with the bright idea of re-badging Subaru models as higher-end Saabs and selling them for a premium.
The first product of the Saabaru project was the Saab 9-2x, which was nothing more than a Subaru Impreza hatchback with a different nose job and a re-trimmed interior. It was also the last production model of the sort as the following year, GM sold its Subaru’s shares back to the Japanese carmaker’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries.
But not before it finished a prototype named the Saab 9-6 that was built on the Subaru B9 Tribeca crossover. And even though most of us had heard about the 9-6, no one outside of Saab and GM had ever actually seen the crossover model, up until now, that is.
The Swedes decided that it was time for the prototype model to come out of the darkness and into the light of Saab’s museum in Trollhättan, Sweden.
Discovered and photographed by Steven Wade, the man we came to know as the founder of the Saabsunited website and who is now part of the Swedish firm’s social media team, the 9-6 is a typical product of GM’s re-badging process.
And by that we mean a Saab nose plus some minor changes to the exterior and interior trim.
Wade also mentioned on the company’s website that GM also developed a three-door prototype of the Saab 9-6, but its whereabouts remain unknown.