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Old 06-13-2012, 12:07 AM   #1
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Saab replication idea

I have no idea where to post this but I'll try here first. It's not model-specific and I don't see anywhere in the General Saab Forum that fits either. So here goes.

This is a dream I've had since Saab started really struggling a few years back. The major caveat is that I don't know anything about the legal ramifications of doing it, so if you do, please let me know. Even if it would be completely illegal to do, I think some people might be entertained by the idea.

THE BASICS:
So there are CAD programs out there like Autodesk Inventor and such that are capable of drawing up plans for just about any single piece of material that can be manufactured using today's technology. Anyone with accurate measuring tools can take an object, draw its basic 3D shape on a computer, and input measurements at enough critical points so that a CNC machine or whatever else can produce that shape based on the computer model. Inventor can assemble parts and model working machines, but that's less useful in what I'm about to suggest.

Though it would be more difficult than I make it sound and EXTREMELY time consuming, someone could, in theory, use this technology to make a very accurate computer model of every single part of a Saab. I'm not saying make a model of a fuel pump, I'm saying take apart a fuel pump and measure the shit out of every single thing in it. It wouldn't be that hard to figure out what material each part is made of, and all you really need to reproduce something is an accurate computer model and whatever raw material it's made of.

LEGAL THEORY (which may be totally incorrect):
The idea would be to use an older model not tied to GM, reasoning that if Saab is really dead no one really has any claim on the old patents and whatnot.

PROFITABILITY:
With unlimited funds, it wouldn't be that hard to produce a brand new c900 SPG or 9000 Aero or whatever you want. For the prototype, each individual part could be specially made. The hard part would be finding enough initial capital to build a factory capable of mass producing all the parts. You'd absolutely need to be able to produce a few hundred a year and be able to sell them at a price that competes with new cars. Still, I think it could be possible.

For starters, contract with someone like Genuine Saab and make all of the desirable performance upgrades (within reason) come stock on the car. In other words, whoever designed my 2002 9-3 SE purposely put an inefficient intercooler in there to save money. At $440 retail, the ETS intercooler would add very little to the purchase price of the car but would, along with other components, allow Saabs to compete with cars that otherwise would perform much better from the factory. I figure that between suspension and power upgrades that are essentially bolt-on (nothing major- no new turbos or upgraded pistons etc.) with the exception of a Quaife LSD (which would be a good call even if it violates the "nothing major" rule) the cost of making the new car would only be about $4k more than the cost of making it exactly as stock, and would really be even less than that since you would never be spending money on the "stock" components. When you consider that new 9000 Aeros were sold for around $35k in the mid 1990s, and that new Audi A4 2.0T's aren't really any nicer than an updated 9000 Aero would be, that $4k in upgrades would REALLY help to justify whatever the asking price of this reproduced car needs to be. You'd be getting more than $4k of value out of it, considering that the most recently produced Saabs weren't at all competitive with similarly-priced cars when it came to performance.

If, in theory, you could sell an updated, high-performance 9000 Aero for $35k, and then maybe a replica (with upgraded/updated aspects as well) of a naturally-aspirated 99 for $25k or less, you'd be producing a very competitive line of cars. The 9000 would blow the base-model 3-series out of the water in all categories (performance, gas mileage, comfort, versatility) and be almost $10k cheaper, while the 99 would put up a serious fight against sport compacts like the Fiat 500 Abarth, which, at around $25k, receives an awful lot of praise while being maxed out at 160 crank horsepower.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
My guess is that it would take a few hundred thousand dollars and 3-5 years of dedication to accurately produce one replica of one Saab model from scratch. But if that could be pulled off, it wouldn't be so hard to draw up a business plan and find investors to get the company up and running.

Needless to say, this is mostly a pipe dream, but please do share your thoughts and opinions as to whether or not you could see it happening and why.
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:57 AM   #2
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Sounds pretty cool--in theory--for someone as mechanically-minded as that. If we're talking about a complete re-creation, you'd need a fair bit more than just a cnc machine. Sure, that would take care of the 3d items, but a fair bit of every car is pressed/bent from sheet metal. You would need the full facilities of a car manufacturing plant.

You have to consider the market as well. If the actual Saab company failed to survive, I'm not sure you could bring it back by re-introducing amateur-built copies of old models...at least with anywhere near a reasonable margin of profit. What's stopping the consumer from simply doing what we're already doing: buying an older car for cheap, and pouring the leftover money into painstakingly restoring it exactly how we want? Older models are still pretty prolific, so I'm really not seeing how anyone would prefer what you're offering.

That said, if this kind of thing interests you, then go ahead and piece together one for yourself. You would certainly have an extremely unique vehicle, and the bragging rights would be stupendous. I just don't think it makes for a reasonable business venture.
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Old 06-13-2012, 04:36 AM   #3
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I like your brainstorming, but no one is going to want to pay for a new-old car design. Sure you can upgrade parts, but the frame and geometry of the design lend to a poor handling performance vehicle. (I didn't say everyday driver.)
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:10 AM   #4
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Tooling costs are huge -- they wouldn't be a couple hundred thousand dollars; they'd be tens of millions.

Additionally, you'd need a few more million to cover the costs of regulatory compliance testing.

I do like your thinking, though.

Perhaps you'd be interested in learning more about companies that specialize in kit cars and reproduction cars. You might also like learning about the small business (cant think of the name, Google will know) that stocks all of the leftover parts from when Delorean ceased production.

I'm a mechanical product development engineer, feel free to PM me for more details.
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:34 AM   #5
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I like your brainstorming, but no one is going to want to pay for a new-old car design. Sure you can upgrade parts, but the frame and geometry of the design lend to a poor handling performance vehicle. (I didn't say everyday driver.)
maybe we could talk icon into remaking the c900
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:23 AM   #6
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Tooling costs are huge -- they wouldn't be a couple hundred thousand dollars; they'd be tens of millions.

Additionally, you'd need a few more million to cover the costs of regulatory compliance testing.

I do like your thinking, though.

Perhaps you'd be interested in learning more about companies that specialize in kit cars and reproduction cars. You might also like learning about the small business (cant think of the name, Google will know) that stocks all of the leftover parts from when Delorean ceased production.

I'm a mechanical product development engineer, feel free to PM me for more details.
Haha thanks for the input. I'm going to be a junior in college majoring in English, so I'm sure I got some major facepalms from people who actually understand this stuff. I took an intro to CAD class back in high school as part of a program called project lead the way that was supposed to turn everyone into engineers. Their message was basically "you can do literally anything with this technology."

At the time I also had an idea to make a suspension system that, using electromagnets, reacts to bumps a split second before the tires actually hit them, allowing for a perfectly smooth ride with stiff enough suspensionto corner really well. I swear to God I thought of that on my own while riding in my dads 9000 on the way to go skiing, but it turned out that Bose, the speaker company, was working on something very similar.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:23 AM   #7
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Haha thanks for the input. I'm going to be a junior in college majoring in English, so I'm sure I got some major facepalms from people who actually understand this stuff. I took an intro to CAD class back in high school as part of a program called project lead the way that was supposed to turn everyone into engineers. Their message was basically "you can do literally anything with this technology."

At the time I also had an idea to make a suspension system that, using electromagnets, reacts to bumps a split second before the tires actually hit them, allowing for a perfectly smooth ride with stiff enough suspensionto corner really well. I swear to God I thought of that on my own while riding in my dads 9000 on the way to go skiing, but it turned out that Bose, the speaker company, was working on something very similar.
No facepalms from me, just . It easier to sit in front of the TV and have no passion. It's easier to not bother with asking questions.

I certainly didn't intend to shut you down... just wanted to share what obstacles there would be with conventional development.

3D CAD is amazingly powerful and accessible. Keep your skills up, if you can. Check out Sketchup, if you haven't already.

The companies that I mentioned are doing things that are similar to what you proposed. If you read more about them and how they do business, it might help to give you ideas to "springboard" off of.

Here is a link to the Delorean parts supplier I mentioned.

Here's a couple links to to kit car manufacturers:
DDR Motorsport
Factory Five Racing

Again, don't hesitate to PM me with questions about real-world product development.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:24 AM   #8
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Why not build it with a 3-D printer?

You and my son should get together. He thought of a mag-lev system for a flying car when he was about 7. Playing with Brio wooden trains, he noticed that sometimes the magnets repel. He thought that the roads could have lines of magnets that repel the automobiles, making them float.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:33 AM   #9
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Why not build it with a 3-D printer?
You can even build your own 3D printer! Home MakerBot

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You and my son should get together. He thought of a mag-lev system for a flying car when he was about 7. Playing with Brio wooden trains, he noticed that sometimes the magnets repel. He thought that the roads could have lines of magnets that repel the automobiles, making them float.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:47 AM   #10
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maybe we could talk icon into remaking the c900
I want one of their Broncos. Badly. Around $100k, though.

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Old 06-13-2012, 09:56 AM   #11
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I want one of their Broncos. Badly. Around $100k, though.

yeah they build some sweet looking vehicles
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:00 AM   #12
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problem with the c900 is that nobody would pay 100k for your new/old car.
however, remake something truly awesome like lotus esprit. or a detomaso pantera.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:05 AM   #13
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Or get that Steve Moal guy to make you one from scratch. He seems pretty good at it. (Featured on Chasing Classic Cars last night.)

Get some Kleenex and check out the Gatto. Mindblowing.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:17 AM   #14
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Or get that Steve Moal guy to make you one from scratch. He seems pretty good at it. (Featured on Chasing Classic Cars last night.)

Get some Kleenex and check out the Gatto. Mindblowing.
wow.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:20 AM   #15
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I'd like a Countach, a Stratos, and an Esprit, all scaled up 5% for human habitation. In other words, whatever Gandini designed.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:25 AM   #16
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I'd like a Countach, a Stratos, and an Esprit, all scaled up 5% for human habitation. In other words, whatever Gandini designed.
I have so much respect for someone with that much tallent. Thats art
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Old 06-13-2012, 11:18 AM   #17
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Or get that Steve Moal guy to make you one from scratch. He seems pretty good at it. (Featured on Chasing Classic Cars last night.)

Get some Kleenex and check out the Gatto. Mindblowing.
Now that's craftsmanship. Mindblowing!
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:01 PM   #18
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By the sounds of it you should have been an engineer, but hey no one will stop you from designing what ever you want in your free time.

For a few years I have been designing parts for a FFR cobra along with parts for my last saab. Right now I'm designing engine mounts for a cobra and will be working backward to trans mounts and such.

If you really wanted to make a replica saab I'd go the route of FFR. It was started in a garage and excelled because those building it were excited and passionate about what they were doing. I'd design a race tubular chassis and then develop a body to fit over it which looks like your saab of choice. You could very easily "fix" the stock saab issues and really make it a sweet car to drive.

If you want to make one and have the drive you could get it done in 5-8 years. Thats giving at least a year to plan and another to build just the frame. Another 1-2 years for the body and then the rest to complete everything and work out the bugs.

If you really want to do it and would like some design help or SolidWorks help let me know as I need a summer project. My background is Mechanical Engineering so this would be right up my alley.
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:38 PM   #19
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For a few years I have been designing parts for a FFR cobra along with parts for my last saab. Right now I'm designing engine mounts for a cobra and will be working backward to trans mounts and such.
i'm a big ffr fan and have known people with the cobra and the gtm. consequently, its ffr builders where i've seen some incredible custom builds. as you have mentioned, their kits are great because they have a well-engineered chassis, and are designed with that "one donor car" idea. and that great chassis allows for great inventiveness, too, if you want to be different.

please elaborate what you are designing for the cobra. it's not a kit that needs a whole lot of redesigning/reinventing. i'm very curious.
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Old 06-13-2012, 06:55 PM   #20
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P.S. I'm actually in the process right now of having a few pieces I designed for my new suspension printed on a 3d printer at a friend's work. Definitely a fascinating technology, and really cool to learn how to model stuff. I'm in school for graphic design right now, but I've been leaning more toward industrial/product design lately. I may have to take more classes later on, right now I just figure stuff out as I need it.
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