Manchester, second arrest in

There are other websites with better photos than the ones I take. I gave up taking arty photos of cars ages ago because I am simply no good at making a good car look any better than it might be.

Some cars are easier than others to work off though and this Saab is one of them. It also helps that the owner has chosen to give the car some steam-punk charisma. Is there a small vogue for this in my little area I wonder because if I
root around in the memory cupboard I find this:

1979 Opel Kadett (D)

…which we showed recently.

Further, a neighbour has a Land Rover Discovery which is stuffed with military cast-off equipment, has no front bumper (just an iron bar) and black metal wheels. It sports a vivid bright metallic green too – the kind of cheerful hue they did in the early 1990s. I know a colour specialist and I must ask her if there is some kind of name for those 1992-1995 colours.

Which brings us back to the Saab…

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“One of the most overlooked Saabs”, writes this site. This quote is quite interesting if you are interested in engine history. Half a V8 is the way the car’s motor is eventually summed up. “The Saab 99 project was christened ‘Gudmund’ after the name Swedes give to the day of the year on which it began April the 2nd. Saab had realised that a bigger car was needed than the much praised 96, and though Saab loved two-stroke engines, the company realised that four pots were needed for this new family saloon.

1965 Saab 99: source

British firm Ricardo & Co Engineering was developing a new unit for Standard-Triumph at the time, and Saab asked to be in on the action. The result was that that S-T would build the engine for Saab under a deal signed in 1965. The eventual 1.7-litre engine would be overhead cam – unusual for a family saloon at the time, and mounted at 45 degrees to fit under Gudmund’s bonnet.”

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The car had  remarkable run, from 1965 to 1984 which is a very long time indeed. Think about all the versions of Taunuses, Cortinas and eventually Sierras made in the same span of time. Honest John quite likes the car: “In typically Swedish fashion, the Saab 99 managed to be both rational and interesting at the same time. For a car of its vintage it was technically very advanced, but also a great car to drive. Cabin was a bit on the narrow side for maximum comfort, but that was negated by the commanding view forward and excellent seating. Strong performance and brakes were a 99 strong point – hatchback Combi version offered later.”

You could have bought one of those or a Citroen GS new and both are so astoundingly different in style and execution. It makes the fact the not-bad descendents were reworked Opels and Peugeots harder to bear.

Author: richard herriott

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

5 thoughts on “Manchester, second arrest in”

  1. Slightly confusing, Richard.
    Your interior is a four-door; that nice three-door (in a horrible colour) was the attractive Combi Coupé, as it was called in Britain, a real alternative to a Beta HPE or 2000 Touring.

    Good friends always have Saabs, preferring 900 to 9-3 or 9-5, which they could easily afford. As a frequent passenger I find it faultless.

    I don’t hold with mucking about with the original much; a 99 needs a front bumper — those first impact-absorbing ones being a distinctively Swedish innovation.

    1. It’s not so confusing. The interior seems to be from the red(dish) 2-door example that Richard photographed. The 3-door example in the middle seems to be a stock photo (I like its colour, by the way).

      I agree on the bumper, although I think that the small indicators and chromed bumpers of the first series from 1968 (not 1965*) looked even better.

      * As a compensation, you could add the Saab 90 to your figures, running from 84 to 87 – so you’d still get 19 years. And with the closely related 900 it’s even 25 in total.

  2. Yes, Simon, it’s a two-door interior. My screen image was a bit gloomy, but I should have spotted the front seat-belt anchorage in what could never be a door!

    I’d forgotten all about the 90. An attempt to combine the best of both worlds it ended up looking an ugly cut-and-shut job.

  3. The Saab 99 was an interesting car.
    It was effectively hand built with 73 hours of assembly time and had a body structure so solid that FIA homologation papers stated it didn’t need a roll over bar to be used in motor sports.
    The 99/900 also was extremely thoroughly and cleverly protected against corrosion with doors covering the sills and fuel and brake lines running through the car’s interior without being exposed to the elements.
    Saab also went one better than Volvo because their plastic cell bumpers not only absorbed impacts up to 8 kph but also sprang back to form undamaged where Volvo’s metal bumpers protected the car’s body but had to be replaced after a hit.
    Saab fitted the Triumph engine the wrong way round, with the flywheel facing towards the radiator. That way the engine’s tilt was correct for use in LHD cars and the clutch was easily accessible for servicing. Saab also ironed out the engine’s numerous design faults with their H series engine sporting a new head with the head bolts perpendicular to the block surface and under the valve cover instead of the Triumph’s exposed bolts that made it impossible more often than not to undo them in order to take the head off. They also did away with the intermediate shaft that overstressed the timing chain by placing the distributor at the end of the camshaft and they replaced the water pump with horizontal impeller that came loose all too often with a conventional design. These engines are extremely long lived with half a million kilometres even in turbo form being nothing exceptional.

  4. Taking arty pictures takes ages, poncing about and usually an artic trailer of gear; these are perfectly acceptable pictures of a car where it should be – on a street.
    And the colour name? Surely it Spangles Orange, the 1970’s sweet? Haven’t seen either the confectionery or a 99 in bloomin’ ages.

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