Behind the Badge: What Animal Is on the No-Longer-Used Saab Symbol?
Saab AB (Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget or “Swedish Aeroplane Limited”) began as an aviation and defense manufacturer in 1937 out of Trollhättan, Sweden. In the late 1960s, the company began creating automobiles and merged with truck manufacturer AB Skania-Vabis (aka Scania). At the end of 1989, a primary investor sold his share of Saab to General Motors, which controlled 50% of the auto brand until selling it to Dutch Spyker Cars in 2010. Soon, Saab filed for bankruptcy and was purchased by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS).
Despite that rocky history, you probably still see used Saab vehicles on the road today. But do you know what that red bird is on the badge?
What Is the Red Creature on the Old Saab Logo and Where Did It Go?
Although we associate the logo with Saab, it had been used by Scania since the beginning of the 20th century. It’s based on a mythological creature with the head of a bird with the body of a lion: the griffin (or Gripen, the same name used for one of the company’s fighter planes). The red-and-gold creature is the official coat of arms of the Count von Skane, which became the emblem for the Swedish province Skane where the companies were formed.
The creature, which symbolizes vigilance, wasn’t used on Saab vehicles until 1984, when designer Carl Frederik Reuterswärd revamped the emblem’s appearance. He stated, “The Symbol consists of a roundel inscribed with two circles, transposed to form a cylindrical band and create an impression of movement. Although each is shown in its own perspective, Saab and Scania are seen as a unit.”
The griffin emblem was used by Saab until 2010. Because Scania has always been protective of its logo, General Motors only had the rights use the griffin design for 20 years after acquiring Saab in December 1989. After NEVS purchased Saab in 2010 and tension increased between the auto brand and Scania, the truck company refused to allow Saab to continue using the griffin emblem. For fear that NEVS’s Chinese backers would misuse the logo, Scania now exclusively uses the griffin.
A new logo was developed by NEVS and agency Stockholm Design Lab AB–a silver text-based badge. Their corporate logo depicts the road conditions of the four seasons in combination with the Saab letters.
Enjoy learning about the Saab logo? Check out the rest of The News Wheel’s “Behind the Badge” series to learn about other auto brand emblems!
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.