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Saab 99 as a classic car: two seconds of commemoration for a turbo


Little money, but still fancy a classic car? No problem - they are namely, the bargain sled. This time: The Saab 99, the swift downsizing pioneer from Sweden.

Vivian J. Rheinheimer

A fast Swedish snack: The Saab 99

General to the model: Who bought a Saab 99 as a new car, was courageous. At the start of sales in 1969, the Swedish car brand was hardly known in Germany. The competition in the upper middle class was then called Mercedes dash-eight, BMW 02 or Audi 100. And she was inferior to the Saab in some respects.

So the Saab 99 surprised with technical innovations. The passenger compartment of the body set new standards in terms of passive safety. The ignition switch positioned the developers in the center console to reduce the risk of knee injuries in an accident. Seatbelts and headrests were also series - at that time not a matter of course.

Rear-wheel drive was also the standard in mid-range cars in the 1970s. "In the Saab 99, the engineers put on front-wheel drive, which was initially ridiculed," says Ralph Bredlow from Berlin. Bredlow Automobile became one of the first official contractors of the Trollhättan brand in 1966.

The smile passed quickly to the critics. Because the Saab 99 uses the advantages of the concept consistently. For one thing, it convinced with plenty of space in the interior: Because the gearbox was flanged under the engine, the designers could do without a space-consuming center tunnel. On the other hand, virtually all the load was distributed to the front axle through the so-splinted drive train. "That brought excellent handling, especially in winter," explains Bredlow.

There were also small but lively engines. Even the entry-level four-cylinder with 1.7 liters of displacement and carburetor made 80 hp, the variant with injection 87 hp. This aggregate bought Saab from the British brand Triumph. A year later grew displacement (1.85 liters) and horsepower (86 and 97 hp, respectively). The first self-construction was from 1973 the so-called B-engine, a Triumph engine derived engine with two liters of displacement and 95 hp as a single and 108 hp with two carburetors. With an injection system from Bosch made the engine 110 and from 1975 even 118 hp.

A sensation was 1977 then the introduction of the Saab 99 Turbo. At that time, only the sports cars Porsche 911 and BMW 2002 offered an increase in performance with charging technology. "Saab made the turbo reachable for the mass," says Ralph Bredlow. With forced ventilation, the Saab 99 ran at a rapid 200 km / h.

Cheap classic car Saab 99

A swift Swedish snack: The Saab 99 already showed how downsizing works 50 years ago.

Despite front-wheel drive, the 99 Turbo was a successful rally car.

The compact design with front-mounted engine and gearbox brought a very good road holding.

The sleek design made for an exceptionally good cd of 0.36, which reduced fuel consumption.

Saab also builds aircraft, the 99 makes no secret of that.

A turbo engine was something out of the ordinary in the seventies. Saab made it affordable for the broader masses.

The interior also looks sporty.

The instruments are reminiscent of an airplane cockpit.

Even when space Saab 99 is suitable for everyday use. The rear seat can be folded down, the storage space then holds 1,500 liters.

Thanks to the low unladen weight of 1.1 tonnes, a power output of around 100 hp is enough to keep you on the move.

So it does not have to be a turbo, even a 99 GL with naturally aspirated engine can inspire.

With a 99 Turbo you can still annoy some sports car drivers today.

His avant-garde made Saab pay dearly. At launch, the 99 in Germany cost a lavish 10,600 D-mark. On the other hand, even the basic model ran with extras from the band, which cost extra at other brands: such as heated rear window, headlight cleaning system or heated seats. On request, sunroof or air conditioning were available, leather seats not.

Sporty customers were able to beef up their 99 with the special model EMS - leather steering wheel, injection engine, firmer suspension, alloy wheels, special paint and nobler seats were among the package. On the other hand, the model GLE with its soft chassis, electric exterior mirrors, special interior and, later, a power steering, was more geared to comfort.

Why just that? With the 99, Saab showed how downsizing works 50 years ago. While the competition built spritsaufende six-cylinder, set the Swedes on small, fuel-efficient engines with a lot of power. Even with the four-cylinder suckers, the sedan is on the move, whether carburetor, or injection variant.

The missile will be the 99 with the two-liter turbo, with which Saab also wrote racing history in the 1970s. "The 99 was the first turbocharged rally car to score points in World Rally Championship," says Ralph Bredlow, who has had a white turbo since 1981 and enjoys every ride. "I'm always excited about the roadholding and the power delivery."

The turbo concept had also cleverly thought through Saab: instead of designing the supercharger for maximum power, the Swedes developed the turbine in a different direction. Fast response and drivability in everyday life were the premise. At 1500 revolutions per minute, the turbo boost begins, and at 3000 revolutions per minute, it develops its maximum pressure. The dreaded turbo lag (first nothing happened until 4000 turns and then the kick in the cross), which plagued all competitors of that time, had closed so successfully Saab. In addition, the turbine produced significantly more torque than power, which made the engine wonderfully elastic.

Practically especially for city dwellers are the Saab-typical, fully rubberized bumpers. The obligatory bumps when parking on the street completely lose their terror.

Availability: Until 1984, the Saab 99 was built, a total of 588,643 units were off the line. Today, the offer is still manageable. The most common models are naturally aspirated, the turbos are rare and more expensive. Significantly larger is the range of vehicles in Scandinavia, depending on the model, it may be worthwhile to buy a copy from there.

Spare parts supply: Although the car brand Saab has long since gone down, spare parts are surprisingly good to get. The former Saab Parts GmbH - today Orio Germany GmbH - has many more components in stock, including for the Saab 99. What is no longer available, is partly reproduced. Only with sheet metal parts such as fenders or doors as well as special interior and trim parts can the procurement be difficult.

Spare parts prices (by way of example):

  • Repair sheet wheel arch: from 70 euros
  • Set brake discs front: from 70 euros
  • Water pump B engine: from 130 euros
  • Turbocharger B engine: from 900 Euro

Weaknesses: Saab has used 99 high-quality and thick sheets, so the car does not bother as passionately as many peers of other brands. If the brown plague spreads, then here: lower door edges, wheel arches and the axle shaft tunnels are typical nests.

Motor noise such as rattles may indicate a malade timing chain. In the case of Triumph engines, the cylinder head gasket often causes problems. The advanced B engines are considered to be more robust, but they need to be replaced with special tools. Also vulnerable in age is the three-speed automatic, specialized companies offer an overhaul.

Points of contact on the Internet:


Price: For 2,000 euros you can already get ready to drive copies of the Saab 99. Those who enjoy the car for a longer time and do not just want to ride it down, usually have to make major investments. Or just buy a neat pattern. The prices for such 99 must settle at least 5,000 euros. But even that is still cheap: Lovers pay 20,000 euros and more for good turbo models.

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Source: spiegel

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