Saab 99

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Saab 99 (1970)
Saab 99 (1970)
Production period: 1968-1984
Class : Middle class
Body versions : Limousine , station wagon
Gasoline engines : 1.7–2.0 liters
(59–107 kW)
Length: 4350-4480 mm
Width: 1680 mm
Height: 1450 mm
Wheelbase : 2470 mm
Empty weight : 1120-1160 kg
successor Saab 900
Saab 90

The Saab 99 was a mid - size passenger car from the Saab car manufacturer , which was manufactured from early 1968 to spring 1984. The Saab 99 was designed by Sixten Sason .

The successor was the Saab 900 introduced in the late summer of 1978, but next to which it remained on offer. As a slightly modified version, the 99 rolled off the production line as the Saab 90 from summer 1984 to mid-1987 .



Rear view

The Saab 99 had a two- or four-door self-supporting body, front-wheel drive, independent front suspension on double wishbones and a rigid axle at the rear , which was guided lengthways by two Watts rods left and right and a Panhard rod crosswise.

From the spring of 1970 the car was also available as a four-door and was fitted with a new, padded dashboard and headlight washer system.

The Saab 99 was laboriously manufactured: it took 73 hours to assemble a vehicle. Modern vehicles have assembly times of less than ten hours, but with less vertical integration .

The body was designed to be so stable that the Saab 99 initially received homologation for motorsport without the need to install separate roll bars, which was otherwise only the case with downright motorsport vehicles such as the Lancia Stratos .


Saab had originally commissioned the British development company Ricardo to design an engine for the 99. In the course of development, however, it quickly became clear that designing your own engine was too expensive and too risky for a company as small as Saab.

Ricardo had excellent contacts with various British car manufacturers. This made it known that at the same time at the manufacturer Triumph, a team led by the local designer Harry Webster was developing a new four-cylinder for the Triumph automobiles. Ricardo then mediated a contact between Saab and Triumph. So Saab was ultimately able to adopt the new Triumph engine for the 99.

Initially it had a displacement of 1.7 liters, which was later increased to 1.85 liters. This could be combined with a D-Jetronic injection system. The engine was installed lengthways over the front axle, the four-speed gearbox was under the engine. An automatic transmission was available from 1970. The reverse installation position of the engine with the flywheel facing the radiator and the camshaft drive in front of the bulkhead was remarkable. A later two-liter version of this engine (H series) was a pure Saab development, which in many respects (higher engine block in favor of a wider top land, distributor drive directly from the camshaft) diverged from the Triumph design and not from that of Triumph-built two-liter variant is related.

Together with group partner Scania , who had gained experience with supercharged diesel engines , a modern engine with exhaust gas turbocharging was developed . Unlike previous turbo engine concepts of the competition, this worked according to the torque philosophy , characterized by a relatively small turbocharger , which was combined with a specially developed wastegate valve for boost pressure regulation. This system generated sufficient air pressure at lower engine speeds and responded more quickly than conventional turbochargers. The engine developed 107 kW (145 hp) at 5,500 rpm and accelerated the vehicle from 0 to 100 km / h in 8 seconds; the top speed was just over 200 km / h. The vehicle was optionally available with water injection , which additionally increased performance. The model was only introduced in 1978 after an intensive test phase with 100 test cars that were made available to motor journalists and test drivers for detailed analysis.


  • 1970: In spring the 99E comes with fuel injection and an automatic transmission. This increases the power from 80 to 87 hp.
  • 1971: new dashboard. In addition to the engine with a displacement of 1.7 l, there is a 1.85 l engine with carburetor or injection and without a freewheel. Introduction of the headlamp washer system and, for the first time, electric seat heating for both front seats as standard.
  • 1972: First major facelift, all models without a freewheel gear different front suspension. Larger and differently placed combination lights at the front. Also new were powerful active bumpers on the front and rear of the car. These provided a somewhat better protection against accidents, as they were deformable and self-repairing up to a speed of 6 km / h, but the car lost its graceful line and now looked a bit clumsy.
  • 1973: Side impact protection in the doors, flexible roof lining. There was also an engine with a displacement of 1.971 liters. The new engine was introduced with the start of series production of the Saab 99 EMS with Bosch D-Jetronic, later also for the carburettor versions. Black radiator grille with trim parts made of polished aluminum.
  • 1974: In addition to the two- and four-door models, a variant with a hatchback and a large tailgate with a low loading sill, called the Combi-Coupé (CC for short), came onto the market. With the rear bench seat folded down, this had a load volume of 1,600 liters. New seats with integrated headrests at the front and, in the case of the sedan, neck impact protection at the rear with rear window freezer nozzles for rear window heating and improved bumpers on the outside, which are now self-repairing up to 8 km / h.
  • 1975: Second extensive model update, completely revised technology on the chassis and drive, the engine output increases from 95 HP to 100 HP and from 110 HP to 118 HP. The grille is now made of plastic. The Triumph engine is omitted. A two-seater delivery van is available as an additional model. The EMS model, the sports variant, is equipped with the K-Jetronic and from now on, the car started alongside the Saab 96 in rallying - driven by Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund. The rally version received cylinder heads with 16 valves and two camshafts in 1976. This rally-tested variant was also the basis for the Saab turbo engine.
  • 1976: Expansion of the engine range with a dual carburetor engine with 108 hp. Electric rear window heating also in the two and four-door models. The five-door combi-coupé is introduced as an additional body variant and a luxury version with 118 hp engine like the EMS but only four-door and with power steering, namely GLE.
  • 1977: Small exterior facelift with larger rear lights on the sedan and enlarged combination lights on all front variants. The combination lights contained a cornering light and side reversing lights (not permitted in Germany). In autumn, the Turbo model was presented as a three-door combi-coupé in mother-of-pearl white at the 47th IAA in Frankfurt and was also delivered to customers, primarily in the USA, from autumn of that year. Pre-series production of 100 vehicles for test purposes was launched in advance as an 'EMS turbo' to motor journalists and car testers in the spring.
  • 1978: Series production of the Saab 99 Turbo begins with the model year. It is equipped with a 2.0-liter engine that delivers 145 hp when supercharged and has 235 Nm of torque. Only available as a 3-door CombiCoupe in black and carinal red, with a sliding roof as standard. GLE model now only with 5 doors.
  • 1979: Technical adaptation to the Saab 900, simplification of the equipment, including the elimination of the neck protection for the rear passengers. Fewer model variants. Turbo is no longer available with 3 doors. But now as a 2-door sedan only for Europe in marble white and acacia green in small numbers as well as EMS.
  • 1980: Longer bumpers and further technical adjustments to the Saab 900. Only available as a sedan. Two-door turbo available in fixed small numbers but also with a five-speed gearbox.
  • 1981: Engines with 100 hp carburettors or 118 hp injection. Four or five gears, no more automatic available. Production only in Uusikaupunki / Finland at SAAB-Valmet.
  • 1982: By changing the front area, the 99 can now be equipped with the H engine from the 900. Outside new side moldings and grille from the 99 EMS.
  • 1983: The design of the radiator grille is adapted to the Saab 900.
  • 1984: Contactless electronic ignition. Production will stop in April.

Saab 99 Petro

In 1977 a model with a bivalent drive (petrol or petroleum ) was presented for the Finnish market. This was manufactured exclusively in the Uusikaupunki (Nystad) plant and was only available with the two-door body of the Saab 99.

As with the Horizon Petro , it had a low-compression engine. It was the two-liter turbo engine, but without a turbocharger, which produced 63 kW (85 hp). The top speed was 150 km / h. The tank was divided, with the larger half for the kerosene and 45 liters. Outwardly, it differed in addition to the Petro lettering by a second filler neck, which was located to the right of the license plate.

When production of the Saab 99 was discontinued, the production of the Petro models also ended.

The end of the Saab 99

Stig Blomqvist in the Saab 99 Turbo at the 1980 Hunsrück Rally
Saab 99 (1983–1984) with a new grille and 5-speed gearbox

In the late summer of 1978 the Saab 900 was introduced, a somewhat lengthened and expanded model based on the Saab 99. The variety of models has now decreased somewhat with the 99 and so the 99 Turbo was only offered in Europe as a two-door model for homologation purposes . Just like the EMS in only small numbers. At the beginning of the 80s, the range of 99 models had only shrunk to two- and four-door models with single-carburettor 100 hp engines in order not to compete with the 900 model.

From 1981 the 99 was only produced in Finland at the Saab-Valmet plant there, but at an excellent level of quality.

In 1982 the so-called H-engine also used in the 900 was installed as a further development of the existing engine and a five-speed gearbox was available.

A gentle facelift and good equipment ensured that sales figures rose again from 1983 onwards. Even in 1984, the last year of production, the steadily improved and meanwhile very mature car was upgraded again with a contactless ignition system and modified steering geometry.

1985 was not yet finally over, because the Saab 99 was continued in August 1984 as the Saab 90 in an unusual style: The front section was provided with the rear of the Saab 900 Sedan and could thus function as an entry-level model until August 1987. Since the 900 is actually a further development of the 99, the concept could exist until the end of 1993.

The Saab 99 was not only manufactured in the Trollhättan (Stallbacka) plant, but also in the Uusikaupunki plant in Finland by the subsidiary Oy Saab-Valmet ab . The Saab 99 was therefore also used as a police car in Finland. There were also models that were manufactured in Mechelen , Belgium .

Datasheet Saab 99 (1982)
Saab 99 GL
Engine: 4-cylinder in-line engine (four-stroke)
Displacement: 1985 cc
Bore × stroke: 90 × 78 mm
Performance at 1 / min: 74 kW
(100 PS)
at 5200
Max. Torque at 1 / min: 162 Nm at 3500
Compression: 9.5: 1
Mixture preparation: 1 × Zenith-Stromberg 175
Valve control: Overhead camshaft, chain drive
Cooling: Water cooling
Transmission: 4-speed transmission,
front-wheel drive
Front suspension: Wishbones above and below, coil springs (struts)
Rear suspension: Rigid axle, two watt rods lengthways, Panhard rod, coil springs
Brakes: Disc brakes all around, servo
Steering: Rack and pinion steering
Body: Sheet steel, self-supporting
Track width front / rear: 1400/1430 mm
Wheelbase: 2475 mm
Dimensions: 4480 × 1690 × 1440 mm
Empty weight: 1120-1160 kg
Maximum speed (factory): 160 km / h
0-100 km / h (factory): 14.5 s
(liters / 100 kilometers, factory):
11.6 S.
Price: DM 19,250–19,950 (02/82)


  • Automobil Revue , catalog number 1982 (data)

Web links

Commons : Saab 99  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files