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Saab Company History

Published: 24th Mar 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!


Saab Archive

  • Saab 900

    Saab 900

    Price: Non-Turbos: Rough, £300. Good, £750+. A1, £1500
    Turbo: Rough, £500. Good, £1500. A1, £3000

    Read more »
  • Saab 9000

    Saab 9000

    Price: Non-Turbos: Rough, £200. Good, £500+. A1, £1200
    Turbo: Rough, £300. Good, £1000. A1, £2000+

    Read more »
  • Saab 92

    Saab 92

    Price: Rough, £1000+. Good, £5000+. A1, £10,000+

    Read more »

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The involvement in vehicle manufacturing of a firm that produces aircraft is always good news for buyers of the resulting automotive products, in terms of quality engineering and an innovative approach to problem solving. So it was in the case of Svenska Aeroplan Atkiebolaget (AB) originally a Swedish state company, set up in the spring of 1937 so that Sweden could provide its own aircraft for defence purposes.

Early production involved designs from the United States and Germany, but the Saab 17 dive bomber was built in 1940 to the firm s own specifications. Many other fascinating Saab designs followed, including the Saab 18 (the last propeller-driven military aeroplane used by the Swedish Air Force) and the Saab 21 interceptor/ strike aircraft.

After the War, when aeroplane production wound down, it was necessary for the company to build other products in order to survive, and thus began the firm s venture into car manufacture. Responsible for the first Saab car were Gunnar Ljungstrom (who had worked in England, for the Standard and Rover companies) and designer Sixten Saxon.

Work on Saab s first car began during 1945, with a full size wooden mock-up being produced early in 1946. The hand-made prototype was shown to journalists in June 1947. With lightweight aerodynamic bodywork, frontwheel drive and a transverselymounted, 25bhp twin-cylinder 764cc two-stroke, the car was very advanced for its time, and subsequent production versions (please see our separate panels covering the various specific models, for more details) found favour with discerning motorists buying public. Although the power output was lowly, light weight enabled lively performance, and the car handled well too. Indeed during the 1950s and 60s Saabs achieved much success in rallying, notably with the brilliant Eric Carlsson, who repeatedly won the Monte Carlo and RAC rallies in two-stroke Saabs, in the early 1960s.

The unique sound of a twostroke Saab being driven hard is definitely something to savour eventually they gave way to 1.5- litre V4 Ford Taunus units, which gave more power (plus lower emissions of smoke). The last Saab of this type (a 96) was built in 1979. Saab joined forces with the lorry manufacturer Scania-Vabis back in 1968.

The next Saab, the completely new 99, emerged in 1967, with a Triumph-sourced 1.7-litre engine (later seen in the Dolomite), located above the transmission and driving the front wheels. The joint venture between Saab and Triumph for engine production came to an end in 1972, when Saab opened its own engine manufacturing factory.

The phenomenal 99 Turbo arrived in 1977, providing scintillating performance combined with everyday practicality; this was a true driver’s car which was also practical. As with its predecessors, the 99 was successful in rallying.

The 900 built upon the strengths of its forerunners, but was longer than the 99, and provided more interior space for passengers. Larger still inside (yet with smaller external dimensions) was the 9000, which made its debut in 1984, and which was built in four-door saloon and five-door hatchback versions. With high levels of equipment, excellent performance and enduring reliability, the 9000 continued Saab’s tradition of building individualistic, desirable cars.

In recent years an association with General Motors has helped both concerns, but Saab cars remain separate models with their own identities and characteristics.

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