The year of 1967 would be an auspicious one for for the Trollhättan-based carmaker. The start of the year witnessed the maiden flight of the aircraft division’s advanced new Viggen jet fighter aircraft, while that Autumn, the first completely new Saab motor car since the marque’s inception would make its press debut. The 99 model (and its derivatives) would go on to Continue reading “Nordstjärna (Part Four)”
The early 1960s had been good years at Trollhättan. Saab sales had risen exponentially, the export performance of the 96 showed considerable promise, and its rally exploits further bolstered its appeal. But it was clear that to consolidate upon this success, a more modern, more adaptable Saab motorcar was required. In April 1964 management initiated Project Gudmund which would culminate in the 99 model, unveiled to the press in November 1967.
But meanwhile sales of the two-stroke 96 were stalling, and technical chief, Rolf Mellde recognised the need to act. Not that his engineers had exactly been warming their hands in the interim. Between 1960 and 1964, a number of four-stroke engines were evaluated in Saab bodyshells. Initially three powertrains were selected, a longitudinal 897 cc four cylinder Lloyd Arabella unit, a transversely mounted 848 cc BMC A-Series (à la Mini) and a 1089 cc V4 Lancia Appia unit.
In the years immediately following the cessation of global hostilities, the pace of technological change accelerated massively. However, this rapid forward motion was particularly obvious in the aviation sector, especially following the advent of the gas turbine jet engine.
Among the many reasons why a car company might come into being, matters of geography are not always the primary rationale. However in this particular instance, both they, and geopolitics played a significant role. During the 1930s, German territorial aggression had become an existential threat to Sweden’s neutrality, prompting the government to develop an independent air defence force, not so much to repel possible invaders it would appear, but to make any such invasion more difficult and expensive to implement.
The development of a home-developed aircraft therefore came about from the unsuitability of bought-in hardware, and as hostilities became inevitable, the inability to Continue reading “Nordstjärna (Part One)”
Driven to Write salutes the passing of a motoring giant
The motoring world is a little bleaker today following news of the death of Erik Carlsson, Saab’s legendary rally champion and latter-day marque ambassador. Saab may well have made their commercial mark in the 1960s without his exploits on the special stages, forests and safaris of the World Rally championships, but Carlsson’s wins in the underpowered two-stroke 93-series were instrumental in making the world sit up and take notice of those funny looking little cars made in that funny sounding little place called Trollhättan. Continue reading “Obituary: Erik Carlsson – 1929-2015”