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.
Like so many ill-considered marriages, GM’s entanglement with Saab was destined to end badly. We look back over this unhappy union.
Throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s, GM looked on enviously as its arch-rival Ford carefully and methodically assembled the pieces of what would become its Premier Automotive Group* (PAG), a stable of European premium, sports and luxury car marques to which it would add its own Lincoln and Mercury brands.
Ford began by acquiring an interest in Aston Martin in 1987, then assuming full control in 1991. It purchased Jaguar in 1989, followed by Volvo’s car business a decade later. In 2000, Ford acquired Land-Rover from the wreckage of BMW’s failed ownership of Rover Group, which it folded into the newly formed PAG.
The latter acquisition was particularly painful for GM because, in March 1986, it had agreed the purchase of Land-Rover, then part of the nationalised British Leyland, from the UK government before a public outcry and political pressure forced Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Continue reading “Irreconcilable Differences (Part One)”
The 1978 Saab 900 could be dismissed as merely an evolution of an older model, but it became far more than that. It became the ur-Saab.
“The car has become an indispensable part of our everyday life. We need it so that society will not grind to a halt and so that people will serve society efficiently. looking ahead a little further, will the car continue to be as essential in our everyday lives as today?
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 Continue reading “Manchester, second arrest in”
This isn’t a discussion about BMW motorbikes. It’s more about wear and tear which are together a bad thing, generally.
I noticed this old BMW motorbike and the working decay had an appealing character to it. My own bicycle is heading for the same style of worn tattiness which is something I cultivate as I don’t want the thing stolen.
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.)
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
Already a decade old in 1977, the SAAB 99-series perhaps best embodied the Swedish ideal of ‘Lagom’ .
The 99 saw Saab come of age. A bigger, more commodious, more mainstream model than the somewhat home market-specific 96 series which not only preceded it, but was sold alongside. By 1977, the 99 was a very mature product, and what bugs may have arisen in earlier incarnations were fairly thoroughly expunged. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Just Right?”
The Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan, Sweden has a well-presented and thorough collection of production, prototype and concept cars.
In this installment I will take a gander around the production cars. DTW is very pleased to present the work of photographer NMJ who accompanied me on the visit. A few of my own images are scattered in the collection. A while back a Buick Electra 225 caused me to think about the links between Sweden, American and American cars in Sweden. Now a visit to the Saab Museum took me back down that path. Continue reading “Saab Museum: The Production Cars”
“The new Saab 99 tested”. In this transcript Archie Vicar samples what is now viewed as one of the top-ten great Saabs. Is it more than the anti-Volvo?
From “Mass Motorist” Dec. 1968. Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.
When people think of Sweden and Swedish cars, they often think of Volvo who make sturdy machines capable of withstanding the horrors of the Scandinavian climate. But it’s worth remembering that Sweden has a second car maker, Saab, who also make fighter jets. Like our friends at Bristol, Saab use the experience they have gained in aerospace to Continue reading “1968 Saab 99: Review”