Welcome to Ridiculous Rebadges, a series of articles in which I go through and examine the details and circumstances surrounding some of the more infamous and some of the more esoteric vehicular rebadges throughout automotive history.
Saab and Lancia were two automakers that had very much alike. Both were kind of quirky and non-mainstream. Both had storied rallying histories. Both enjoyed forcing induction into a small four cylinder engine. Despite all of these similarities, however, there were several key differences between the two brands as well. Lancias liked to rust; Saabs, not so much. Saabs were Swedish and therefore viewed as more sensible whereas Lancia’s Italian heritage characterized it as feisty and exciting. That is why in the 1980s when Saab and Lancia attempted to join together in a joint venture, the result was the hopeless Saab 600. Arguably not a joint venture at all, the 600 was a base Lancia Delta with a hopelessly slow 1.4L I4 and a water soluble body. It went on to sell only in Scandinavia and Finland, and not in great numbers due to a reputation tarnished by the infamous Italian build quality. As a result, few if any 600s remain today. However, the connection between the Swedes and the Italians later resulted in the Type 4 Platform venture which was a sales success with the Saab 9000, Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma, and Alfa Romeo 164. Today these funky Italio-Swedish relations stand to remind us of two amazing car companies, both killed prematurely by American brands. Rest in Peace, Saab and Lancia.
First Generation Lancia Delta
[First two images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]
[Third image courtesy of taringa.net]
Saab Lancia 600
[All images courtesy of SaabsUnited.com]