header image
Homepage. This page: A British-registered RHD SAAB 99 (1850cc).
Original transport photographs
Old Classic Car Image Archive index >

SAAB 99 two-door saloon.

Thanks to Kevin for sending over this old colour photo of a SAAB 99 two-door saloon car that he once owned, in the late 1970s. He liked the car, although it wasn't without its shortcomings, as he relates: "Great car, comfy and smooth, but incredibly heavy steering. No PAS, so that turning corners would almost break your wrist or sprain your back; a bus would probably be lighter".
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
SAABs have featured in my own family's fleet on several occasions. My uncle ran a very similar 99L in the 1980s, albeit his was bright yellow instead of green, and for a time had a Dolomite Sprint engine under its bonnet. My brother ran a later 99 saloon, while dad had one of the first 900 Turbos (a 1979 car). I too ran a 900 Turbo (a 1985 car), while years earlier I also had a 95 bullnose van for a time. Surprisingly, Kevin's photo is the first old photo of a SAAB to feature in the image archive section of OCC, hopefully it won't be the last.
Until General Motors got their claws into SAAB, this Swedish manufacturer's products were renowned for their quirky, sturdy, well-thought-through, engineering. Engine accessibility was good thanks to the huge, forward-hinged, bonnet, and it was with the 99 model that SAAB introduced the idea of having the ignition barrel situated between the front seats. Before you could remove the key, reverse gear had to be selected, the theory being that a car parked in reverse would not only be less likely to roll away down a hill, but would be far more awkward to steal. This was a novel and practical idea - at least until the mechanism began to wear...
While on the subject of the reverse gear/ignition key feature ... one day I parked my 900 in the work car park. Due to wear, there was no need to select reverse before removing the key with my particular example. On one fateful weekday morning I parked up in the car park, applied the handbrake, and headed to the office. Normally I would have voluntarily left it in reverse after applying the handbrake, but on this day I forgot. A little while later a site security guard tracked me down, seeking to confirm whether the white SAAB that was now impaled in the back of a Director's new Porsche 968 Club Sport was my own (it was). Sadly, the handbrake had released itself. It operated on the front discs. As they cooled down, the brake's grip lessened, to the point that the slope of the car park was too much for the brake to deal with, hence its unauthorised, unmanned, tootle down the tarmac into the back of the 968. A memorable way to lose one's no-claims bonus, but not one I'd like to repeat.
99s are best remembered now by the punchy 145bhp Turbo versions that first visited SAAB dealerships in 1977/78. Turbos were available in two-, three- and five-door forms, the two-door being the most numerous of the bunch and taking over the top-spot in 99 catalogues previously occupied by the fuel-injected EMS. The Turbos have quite a cult following now, and I've always liked the idea of owning one. As a result of the Turbo's popularity, less-rorty versions of the 99, especially early examples, have been long-overlooked by most old-car fans and as a result are quite thin on the ground now, in the UK at least. LVO 327K, Kevin's example, no longer shows as being registered at DVLA.
Return to Page 21 in the motoring image archive, or visit the main index of vintage & classic photographs here.

Custom Search
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2020. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers