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”
…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
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
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.
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.
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.