Having been a Ford person since learning to drive in the family Cortina GT (good fun) and a Vauxhall Viva HB driving school car to get to know the test routes (utterly aweful thing) I was never a great fan of GM products. I will admit to owning a coupld of minis as first and second cars - as one did at the time - but after that it was Escorts, Cortinas and Sierras unless the employer at the tiome had other ideas (Renault 12, a Dreadful old Maxi for a while and a Datsun Sunny that was half decent.)
Then one day I stumbled across a used Vauxhall Senator 24V. I decided that, being a prestige Opel in reality, it might be fun as a motorway cruiser for not much money. And it was. With 100k on the clock after 4 years it still went well and not much went wrong with it except the aircon - which needed charging every year. To be fair that was probably connected to an EU regulated change of refrigerant gas connected to CFC laws.
The worst problem in about 3 years and 75k miles of ownership was an LSD failure and a refurb unit fixed that for a few hundred quid. In the end it was getting to the point where rust was into the rear wheel arches, parts that were due to fail were getting scarce due to low production numbers and mine being from near the end of the model lifespan and the aircon, cruise control and a few other things all needing attention. SO I chopped it for a V6 24V Omega - the car that replaced the Senator. That too was about 4 years old at time of purchase but only 60k miles.
The Omega was a nice enough car to use, most of the time, but no Senator. And reliability was terrible. Really dreadful. No way that it was a reasonable direct replacement for the Senator in its target marketplace. Perhaps that is why most were shifted at a large discount. There seemed to be some very poor design and engineering involved for a 'prestige' car.
At 135k miles the Omega was showing so many signs of being at an of life that I traded it for a Saab 9-5 Aero Estate with a huge mileage. Now, my travelling is much less than I had expected so the Saab has only clocked up 130k even though it is now ten years old. I've owned it for almost 8 years. It's not perfect but still very comfortable and very satisfying to drive. Passed this year's MOT test with no comments. Last year we had to do something with brake piping but realistically that is not unreasonable at 9 years old.
The attention to detail in the 'metal' engineering is just amazing. IIRC the model was originally launched in 1997 and there are still quite a few early ones looking like they are in very good condition driving around.
Saab, at least with the 9-5, seemed to have got back to the Pre-Fiat, Pre-GM reputation that they had for longevity in the days of the 99. I have some friends who inherited a 99 when it was about 16 years old and continued to run it for some years and a rarely maintained second car until it was finally left to rot at the bottom of their garden. There were not many cars of its era that would survive so long treated that way.
Quirky and very niche market oriented but Saab was more often than not a quality, long life product when fully controlled by Saab management, which is more than can be said for most mainstream GM output even iin their 'premium' ranges, in my opinion.
Could they have survived independently? Probably not - few manufacturers are still truly independant. Could GM have made better us of their asset? Almost certainly - but when has a finance company ever cared about the longer term? When you seek planned obsolescence over a very short period, as was traditional in the US market, the idea of something that will last for years must cause palpitations. Hence the forcing of GM 'IP' into Saab when going the other way would (and seemingly eventually did) make more sense. In the end whose IP are they trying to 'protect' from other manufacturers?