A potted history of Saab in the UK from the beginning until the early 1980s

The history of Saab GB 


Saab (Great Britain) Ltd, was formed in October 1960 to market the Saab 96 two-stoke.

The company was an expansion of a Regent St London office, from where the components for the Royal Swedish Air Board and the Saab car division were purchased.


In 1961, the first cars were brought into this country on a pilot scheme to see how they faired.  The cars were landed at Tilbury and then transported to George Bate Garages of Bath road, Slough, which was contracted to receive, prepare, and despatch the cars. In that first year 370 cars were sold.


As this strange little two-stroke car became more and more popular, it was decided that a two-tier system of distributors and dealers be established, and by 1962 there were already 100 Saab outlets.


Because of increased sales, larger premises were needed, and George Bate Garages purchased Haymill Garages Slough, and set up a parts warehouse.

By now it was becoming evident that Saabs had a future in Great Britain, so in July 1962 Saab Great Britain Ltd moved into its own premises in Wellcroft Road Slough.  The new premises housed the whole of the administration, car preparation and parts set up.


By 1965/66 sales had climbed to around 1500 units a year, so it was decided that a preparation plant should be built near Immingham, where the cars landed after being shipped directly from Gothenburg, which until then had come in via Felixstowe.


The kiln lane Stallingborough site, covered  17.2 acres, and had sufficient storage area for 4000 cars.  The original preparation unit covered 15,000 sq ft and was built at a cost of £70,000, it consisted of two inspection lines and the plant had a capacity of 10,000 cars a year.

In 1969, two more buildings were added, and the parts operation moved from Slough to Stallingborough.  Buildings now covered 40,300 sq ft and had sufficient capacity to cope with the 2376 cars sold that year.


Part 2 to follow 🙂

Alex R

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