I am responding to James Treece's Oct. 24 Comment column, "Fuji foiled GM's plans for the Subaru brand." I have been in the automobile business in wholesale (Volkswagen, then Toyota), as a Nissan-Lotus dealer and recently as an importer.
In my opinion, Saab and Subaru have or had real character distinctions that attracted their buyers.
Saab was originally a unique, even oddball car that appealed to a Northeast group of slide-rule gearheads who knew what they were buying. Saab left them behind when the character and price of the car changed. Early Subarus filled that market for awhile with their equally funky looks and boxer engine. They had a unique sound, like the early Saabs.
Saab is in trouble today because Saab owners don't buy the floor-mounted ignition key on an Opel as the sign of being a genuine Saab.
General Motors is kidding only itself, and the sales volume indicates that.
Subaru has a character -- the thrum of that boxer engine is a part of it, and, recently, all-wheel drive.
If Subaru had let GM "GM-ize" (read "sterilize") any of its cars, it would have been the death knell for Subaru.
Saab is now a no-name car; not one model has its own architecture or character. The cars are Opels or Chevrolets, and real Saab buyers know it. Funny enough, a Subaru is the most likely vehicle to offer as a Saab. It has had a similar customer base in the past.
Put an Opel engine into a Subaru and you are on the way to killing it.
Subaru was smart enough to balk at GM's tampering, and three cheers for it.
By the way, Subaru is now developing a diesel boxer engine, which confirms its commitment to that design.