Everything will be Saab – the history of the Swedish car brand
65 years ago, the unknown town of Trolhettan became the center of the Swedish car industry. That’s when the city started serial production of Saab cars. We will tell you about the first Saab cars and what the model 92 was famous for. The whole Saab range.
First thing first, first things first…
See the training plane? This is the Saab 91 Safir – until the spring of 1945 it was produced by SAAB. World War II was coming to an end, and the aviation engineer Gunnar Lungström was running out of orders. Founded in 1937, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Reconnaissance aircraft and bombers were not needed in a moment, after which the company’s management in the person of Ragnar Vargren and Sven Otterbek decided to diversify production. There were few options for the new business – kitchen furniture, country houses. In the end, the choice was made in favor of cars.
Volkswagen in Swedish wrapper
The car business was not chosen by chance – at that time the production of cars in the country was in its infancy. Of course, there was Volvo, but its cars were too expensive, so they couldn’t satisfy 100% of the demand.
Gunnar Ljungström, mentioned above, was appointed as the new project manager under the index 92. The engineer’s field of vision included a small car DKW, which was produced in Germany even before the war. It had a reputation as a compact, inexpensive and unpretentious model. Since the Swedes had no practical experience in creating cars, they were not confused neither by the front drive, nor by the two-stroke engine.
Front anchors? Why not – the cardan shaft can be abandoned. Two-stroke motor? It means that it will be easier to start the car in the cold, because the oil in these models is added directly to the gasoline. You can see exactly what pre-war DKW F8 looked like in the photo below.
Master Sason’s help
At first, car designers did not need a designer. Famous at that time Sason Sixten started working in Saab when Project 92 was nearing its final stage. The very first sketch has delighted the company’s engineers. The future car resembled a fuselage of an airplane that had no plumage. A streamlined roof and wings, almost completely enclosed wheel arches.
Tests of the running prototype began in 1946. Presented in 1947, the model made a real sensation. Gunnar Phillipson, the largest car dealer at that time in Sweden, immediately expressed his desire to buy 8000 models and even made an advance payment!
Here comes the most famous prototype of Ursaab. During the road trials, a number of drawbacks were discovered. For example, because of the closed wheel arches, the niches were so clogged with snow that sometimes the car just couldn’t move.
Final Saab 92
The serial version of Saab 92 looked more stylish and modern. From the point of view of aerodynamics the model was simply excellent. Hundred models were typed in about half a minute, weighing less than 800 kg. Saab 92 was equipped with a new body with modified headlights, open wheel arches and grille.
The DKW trophy engine under the hood has been replaced by a Saabovsky engine. With a volume of less than 800 cc’s, it had a speed of 25 horses. The developers used the simplest thermosiphon cooling system and overrunning clutch. A very simple 3-speed mechanics with the first gear was included in the set to all this farm.
Of course, these characteristics will only make a modern motorist smile. However, do not hurry to compare today’s realities of the automobile industry with postwar ones. According to the dynamics of the Saab 92, even VW Beetle was not inferior in anything. The Swede put the German on the shoulder blades in terms of a more spacious interior.
Launched in 1953, the Saab 92B had a larger exterior boot lid and rear window area. The Saab 96 continued to be available until 1980. Then the Swedish car industry in the face of Saab was not the most pleasant story, but about it – in one of our next articles.