DTW Summer Re-Issue: 1968 Saab 99 Review

Marking the Saab 99’s 50th anniversary, we revisit legendary motoring writer Archie Vicar’s impressions of one of the top-ten great Saabs. (First published Nov 7, 2014.)

Library photo
Library photo

There can be little doubt that in the annals of automotive journalism, the voice of Archie Vicar was unique. At a time when most road test texts were couched in the most circuitous language;  where opinion or indeed outright criticism required from the reader a keen appreciation of the science of forensics, Vicar stood apart.

A little like the cars of Trollhätten, if we can make that analogy. The Swedish carmaker, by the latter 1960s, had made itself a name for finely crafted, durable motor cars, but more so, for going about their business to a drumbeat very much their own.

1967’s 99 model marked the point where Saab began to be taken seriously. A car which in its various forms would serve the carmaker loyally for more than two decades, it was perhaps the most ideally realised of Saab’s production designs, being at the very least, closest to the vision which inspired it.

Today’s reissue, sees the esteemed motor-noter essaying forth to Sweden to sample the 99 on home territory and proffer his wildly opinionated generalisations both on the car itself and on the subject of national stereotypes. (Although one never quite knew how far Vicar’s tongue was in his cheek as he did so…) His fine (and inimitable) review can be found by clicking upon this link, right here.

For more of Archie Vicar’s renowned period car reviews, click here

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

One thought on “DTW Summer Re-Issue: 1968 Saab 99 Review”

  1. I was happily running an Austin 1100 when the 99 was introduced but upon studying it’s specifications the seed was sown for a future purchase which eventually came after a Peugeot 504. Having admired Rover and Citroens of that era also, it was the SAAB that became my next car. A few other elements of the design that never get mentioned was the unusual ability to complete a clutch plate change without removing ether the engine or gearbox,something unheard of on other cars however I do seem to recall the radiator had to be removed!
    The A pillars were double profile for rollover safety and also angled with the narrow profile section favoring the driver and passengers view out again a safety advantage. This inner strengthening profile can be seen reaching clear down to the front wheel arch with the bonnet open.
    Another oddity the handbrake operated on front wheels through dedicated drums separate from the four wheel disc setup of the primary brakes making handbrake turns impossible.
    Interesting I experienced the luxury of heated seats 45 years ago while they have only recently surfaced in premium models and are sure to widely become standard on all EVs in the quest for energy efficiency.
    The 99 ticked a lot of boxes but there were negatives in use namely the short wheelbase and limited suspension travel, heavy nose bias resulting in stiff steering before power assist was offered.
    These negatives were probably amplified by the previous use of the superbly suspended long wheelbase Peugeot which itself was lacking in the numerous details that made the SAAB so attractive.

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