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Saab 99 Finlandia – Finnish Independence Edition

Antti Kautonen December 6, 2012 Cars You Should Know, Finnish Line 26 Comments

Dec 6 is the Finnish Independence Day, and today we commemorate our small Northern country’s ability to be just as bone-headed and stubborn as we like it, since 1917. The Soviet wanted to challenge that from 1939 to 1945, and these days we’re a member of the European Union which can be seen as the modern-day equivalent to the Soviet Union, but no matter: here we stand, 95 years later.

As a tribute, I present you what might be the most Finnish car built: the presidential edition Saab 99 Finlandia and the short-run production version. Back when all our presidents were called Kekkonen, this is what the top brass got to enjoy. A stretched Cadillac is nothing compared to the 12-window Saab.

I’m featuring a couple of magazine scans of the Scan-auto automobile, in Finnish. The car featured above is the production edition prototype, with a 25-centimetre extension welded in the middle. The rest of the car is a Finnish-built 99 Combi Coupé, with the two-litre fuel-injected 118-horsepower engine. “It’ll transport the bigwigs as fast as 168 km/h, if that speed happens to be legal in any country.” All the trimmings are GLE specification, and the magazine proudly declares how the extension section was cheaper to manufacture than the Swedish-designed job featured below.

In comparison, here’s the actual Presidential car, with the rear doors extended instead of an add-on middle section. This is an earlier car than the Finnish-designed one, even if the base car was also built in Finland before it was taken to Malmö, Sweden, for the stretching job. The notchback car was lengthened by 20 centimetres, in comparison to the 5cm longer 5-door.

The article mentions the “most expensive car stereo in the world, the Blaupunkt Berlin Electronic”, which was controlled from the back seat. In addition to that, the car features air condition (rare in a 99), police radio and louder horns.

“The usual black limousines of the President with their lion emblems are sure to stand out in traffic. A humble Saab 99 is inconspicuous in comparison, and can navigate easily through the downtown traffic jams.”

Later on, there were comparable stretched versions of the OG 900, the 900 Finlandia and CD. These too were Uusikaupunki-built.

Source: Tuulilasi magazine scans 1975 & 1976


  • Alcology

    What's the deal with survivors and collectors these days? That's a pretty hot number but it looks like your presidents were on the shorter side as it looks pretty cramped back there.

  • Hopman

    I think this might be so obscure that even die-hard SAAB junkies might not know about it!

    Great work!

  • Mika Takala

    So, a fellow Finn here. Did any of these cars survive? I would think either the Finnish-made or the Swedish is in a museum… or are they?

  • david42

    I'm amazed that the head of a non-African state had a limo with such a colorful interior.

    I've been long baffled by the Kekkonen thing. I know Finland wasn't a dictatorship–there was no totalitarian nastiness at all, right?–but that wasn't exactly democracy, either.

    • TurboBrick

      You don't need nastiness when you get a 4-yr extension to your 3rd term with an emergency law that passes the parliament with 5/6ths majority and then 9 parties put you up as their candidate for your 4th term which you win with a blowout because there's no credible challengers left.

  • dtargo

    thats cool, but i'm holding out for an extended cab ElCamino

    • mallthus

      Your wish is my command.

      <img src="http://www.oto6.fr/6roues/berlines/95pickup.jpg&quot; width="600/">

      (Sorry. It's technically a crew cab, not an extended cab.)

      • I'll take it, as long as the ignition switch is on the column, as God intended.

        • My three 96 sedans agree but my former Sonett begs to differ. On the dash is also acceptable.

          • Actually, the dash is preferable. I haven't had one of those in nearly 30 years.

        • Garland


      • Van_Sarockin

        Sweet 9-55!

  • Geez, who was the last American president to show up in a hatchback with hand crank windows?

    • Van_Sarockin

      Don't know about a hatchback. And the article says the President's car is a notchback. As for roll up windows, I'd think it might be Truman, and certainly Roosevelt.

  • TurboBrick

    UKK didn't just rely on the Saab, he also had this 1970 New Yorker:

    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5302/5831287145_4015059255.jpg"&gt;

    Both cars really make a statement in their own special way.

  • dukeisduke

    I remember when the Blaupunkt Berlin came out. The way coolest radio in the world. About a grand when they were new.

    • Rover1

      And back when a grand was worth a grand!

  • Goodwin

    I had a picture of one of these in Russia (the only example in the country). Wonder how it got here. Any info on the production numbers?

  • Van_Sarockin

    I've got 99 reasons to be president, but limo isn't one of them. Classy of them to use the EMS seats and soccer ball wheels.

  • Perc

    The big box on the transmission tunnel is a mobile phone called ARP, which is short for Autoradiopuhelin. Or Car Radio Telephone, in English. It was a manually switched wireless telephone network. Most (all?) ARP phones were made by Nokia, as is the one in the picture.

    I actually got to use an ARP phone a couple of times in my early teens. The network was in operation until the very late 90's, dispite being surpassed by Nordic Mobile Telephone in the early 80's and then GSM around '92. You flicked through the channels (think CB radio) until you found one that was free. Then you pressed the Red Button™ to get in touch with the operator and order a call. It was one-way with a push-to-talk button on the handset.

    Unlike in other parts of the world, we adopted mobile telephone early on. They were considered essential tools for everyone from businessmen to plumbers at a time when most people elsewhere viewed them as toys for rich yuppies.

    • TurboBrick

      Automobile Radio Phone, that acronym actually works in both languages that way… network construction began in the late 60's and it was opened for public in 1971.