Saab filed for bankruptcy in Sweden on Monday after its former owner, General Motors, opposed a plan that could have bailed the company out.
Saab developed severe cash flow problems almost immediately after GM sold it to a Dutch company, Spyker. Saab had to stop making cars this year while it sought new investors.
The company found a buyer in China, but GM said no to the deal.
Selling the company triggered contract clauses that required GM to sign off on transfers of technology used in many Saab vehicles.
A GM spokesman said the company didn't want to lose control of its technology and allow Saab to become a competitor's shortcut into the thriving auto industry in China.
AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan says there's now little hope the quirky little brand can be saved.
"[Saab] was a vehicle that could easily be seen on the road as a Saab," says Sullivan. "It could never be mistaken for anything else, and I think we’re losing an iconic design."
Saab sold only a few thousand cars in the U.S. last year.