A Hoon's Dirge to SAAB

<i>Saab's as dead as this Sonnett I (Type 94)</i>
Saab's as dead as this Sonnett I (Type 94)

So Saab’s in the toilet, eh? It’s a shame, but the thought of dwelling on why it happened on it brings to mind the sage words of Dr. Zaius from the Planet of the Apes, “Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.” Or, in the immortal words of Dr. McCoy, “He’s dead, Jim.” So we’ll grieve the dead, but in the Hooniverse way, by looking at some of the eccentric engineering spirit that made the company unique.

Saab 93 “Monster”

saab monster
…Like the Saab Monster, a nustso 93 stripped to the shell, and then engorged with two of Saab’s DKW-derived 3-cylinder two-stroke motors. Being transverse, they conjoined the twins across the front of the car, sandwiching a modified transmission. Sporting around 1500cc and a healthy 138 HP, this little beastie maxed out at around 122 mph, likely soiling the driver’s pants along the way as the car had a tendency to lift the rear end while approaching top speed. Of course, it handled like complete crap with more understeer than a Caddy on black ice, so Saab put ‘er down.

Saab-Valmet Twin-Four V8

saab v8
You might already know that the standard Saab B and later H motors were originally derived from a Triumph slant-four, slowly refined, enlarged, and reengineered over the years. It eventually became a damn good powerplant, especially in manic turbo form in the 99. However, the Finish co-owner of Saab Valmet wanted to give the then-new 9000 an indigenous but more powerful motor than the turbo H could offer. They grabbed two of their standard fours, and conjoined ‘em at the hip, creating an incredibly compact 4 liter motor referred to as the Valmet Twin-Four. It made nearly 300 HP, and fit (albeit snugly) right into a transverse application in the 9000. However, GM killed the idea after they purchased the company, foisting their V6 motors on the Trollhatten fleet. What could have been …

Saab 99/900 Finlandia

saab finlandia 1
While the Saab developments above were aimed at increasing the power out of contemporary Saabs, the 99 Finlandia was an attempt to give the Scandinavian home market a luxury car that could compete with the imports that flooded the field. Chopped in half, the Finnish Saab factory at Uusikaupunki (say that five times fast) grafted in some 10 inches of extra body. Only 23 were made, and some were fitted with two front seats in the rear – a vision, perhaps, of how future upscale executive cars like the Passat CC would court exclusivity. The later 900 version of the Finlandia was produced in slightly greater numbers, with 99 going to lucky Scandinavian buyers.
saab finlandia 2

Saab 90

saab 90
It’s probably no surprise that the Saab 99 was so awesome that the Finns had to keep it in production, even after the 900 was introduced. So the 90 was born – essentially a 99 with elements of the 900 grafted onto its snout (although I’m unclear if it was actually a 900 front clip, or just styled to look like one – Saabistas, you may pipe up if you know). It packed the H motor making a solid 100HP, although sadly it doesn’t appear that the turbo was offered.
saab luminko
But you could get a badass aero package! Look at that body-matched cladding. That’s a handsome automobile, yessir. And they called it the “Lumikko” edition, which is the Finnish word for “lesser weasel.” All in all, a dignified ride – and rare too, with only 10 being made.
And that about does it, as this mournful post ends. Have another Saab oddity or story to share? Send us an email at TIPS at HOONIVERSE dot COM.
Tommi’s Saab

0 Comments

  1. Tonight, Violet sits forlornly, weeping silent tears of antifreeze at the news that her family's once-proud rival and close friend, now withered and crippled, is finally at his deathbed, knowing that her own parent company may well be next.
    Treasure the quirky Swedish iron, my fellow Hoons – for someday it will be no more.

  2. My fondest Saab memory is from Seinfeld, when Jerry's 900(?) gets stolen by his mechanic. The police find a black Saab, and call Jerry to come down and take a look:
    YOUNG COP: Watch where you step. There's quite a bit of… grease.
    Detective, Jerry Seinfeld is here.
    DETECTIVE: How d'you do. Thanks for coming down.
    JERRY: (indicating) This is Elaine Benes.
    ELAINE: (explaining) We used to date, but now we're just friends.
    DETECTIVE: I see.
    JERRY: Yeah.
    DETECTIVE: I'm sorry to make you go through this, but we need to make
    sure.
    JERRY: Well, what's going on? What is this thing?
    DETECTIVE: One of our patrolmen stumbled over this.
    He lifts the sheet, revealing what's beneath to Jerry and Elaine.
    ELAINE: (horrified) Huuh! (she turns away and covers her mouth)
    JERRY: Oh my God!
    The young patrolman removes his cap out of respect for the victim.
    DETECTIVE: The block is nearly split apart. We found the overhead cams
    thirty feet away. We can only hope the body sold for scrap.
    ELAINE: Oh, my God.
    DETECTIVE: And we know it's a Saab. The angle on the Vee-6 is
    definitely ninety-two. The model is hard to determine because the drive train is
    all burnt out.
    JERRY: What is that smell?
    DETECTIVE: Look at the clutch.
    They look. Jerry and Elaine don't like what they see.
    ELAINE: Uuh.
    The patrolman cracks and leaves hurriedly, looking nauseous.
    YOUNG COP: Excuse me.
    DETECTIVE: Whoever did this didn't just dismantle it. I mean, they took
    their time, they had fun. They were very systematic. They went out of their
    way to gouge the sides of every piston, and the turbo was separated from the
    housing and shoved right up the exhaust pipe.
    ELAINE: Uhh
    JERRY: Wait a second. Turbo? I didn't have a turbo.
    DETECTIVE: Your car's not a turbo?
    JERRY: No, it's a nine-hundred S. (happy) It's a turbo, Elaine, a
    turbo!
    ELAINE: (sobbing happiness) It's a tu-hur-bo.
    Elaine and Jerry hug in happiness. In the background, another woman
    arrives.
    WOMAN: Excuse me, did you say turbo? Saab turbo nine-thousand? Is it…
    (voice breaking) midnight blue?
    DETECTIVE: (condolences) Yes ma'am.

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