Saab Brand Heritage
saab saab saab
saab saab saab
saab saab
1937 Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (first abbreviated to SAAB and later Saab) founded in April for manufacture of military aircraft in Trollhättan. First group of engineers gather together in the yellow villa still to be found next to the Saab Car Museum in the Nohab industrial complex. 1939 SAAB acquires and merges with the ASJ aircraft division in Linköping and moves head office, development, etc., to Linköping. Trollhättan continues as an aircraft production and assembly unit. 1939 Decision to produce cars after alternate lines of production were studied. Work on first car prototype started in Linköping by a small team of about 15 aircraft engineers led by Gunnar Ljungström. The team was joined by Sixten Sason, then a technical illustrator at Saab, who drew the shape of the new car and later became one of Sweden's greatest industrial designers. 1946 April: work starts on the first running prototype Saab 92.001, ready in November. Secret testing of the prototype. 1947 Production prototype 92.002 shown to press gathering in Linköping on June 10. Work gets underway to install car production equipment at the Trollhättan plant which is still making the Saab 91 Safir (single-engine, two-seater propeller plane). At the press conference it was announced that the complete car would be built in Trollhättan and that the Linköping plant would concentrate on aircraft which now also included a 32-passenger airliner, the Saab 90 Scandia. 1949 December - series production starts. Two variants: the Standard 92 and the De Luxe version! All were painted in the same moss green to simplify work in the paintshop. 1950 Customer deliveries commence in Sweden and exports also start to neighboring Scandinavian countries to acquire foreign currency much needed to pay for imported materials and equipment. Saab's rally saga starts only a few weeks after production commences: Two cars entered in the Monte Carlo Rallye, driven by Chief Engineer Rolf Mellde and legendary lady-driver Greta Molander. Both cars finished: Mellde 69th overall and Greta Molander 8th in the Ladies Class and 55th overall. Rallying continues to be used for testing and Saab ends the year by winning the Rikspokalen, considered the toughest and most important rally in Sweden. Mellde won overall, Molander the Ladies Class and together with K. G. Svedberg they win the team award ahead of cars such as Porsche. 1952 Greta Molander wins the Ladies Cup in the Monte Carlo Rally. 1953 First major success for Saab in Rallying: Swedish Rally Championship (first of more than a dozen titles) through Mellde. European Rally Championship (Ladies Class through Greta Molander). 1955 Saab 93 replaces the 92: 748 cc three cylinder engine, developing 33 bhp and new front and grille plus totally new suspension, and newly launched tubeless tires. Erik Carlsson begins to get a name winning the Rikspokalen in his private 92. 1956 Saab Sonett Super Sport prototype ¬ open two¬seater sports car with fiberglass body on light alloy frame developed and produced for motor sports to meet new competition rules. Six units made, of which five still exist including two belonging to the Saab Museum. A Saab Sonett and two 93s exhibited at New York Coliseum in March and Saab Motors Inc. formed for sales in USA. Ralph Millet, head of Saab's purchasing office for aircraft components thus adds Saab car importing to his duties. First Saab 93's sold in 1957 following surprise victory in Great American Mountain Rally in early winter '56. Explosive sales start in 1957 with 1,410 Saab 93s, corresponding to 14% of Trollhättan's production. By end of 1959 some 12,000 Saab 93s had been shipped to USA, already Saab's largest export market. 1957 Saab Saxomat automatic clutch offered as an option. 1958 Saab's first "cult car" the Saab 93 Granturismo 750 (predecessor to Saab Sport). 1959 Saab 95 ¬ station-wagon version ¬ launched. Featured fold¬down, rearward facing third seat making it a seven-seater. First units assembled in Linköping. 1960 Saab 96 revealed (February 17). Major exterior changes and improvements including flow-through air-circulation, larger and more powerful engine. The 96 was to become the mainstay of Saab sales throughout the 60's. Production capacity now raised to 30,000 units annually and decision to move up to 50,000 already made. 1960-1963 Period of outstanding success for Saab in international rallying brings world renown to the Saab brand: Erik Carlsson's three straight overall wins in the British RAC rally, 1960, ¬61 and -62 (first ever triple) and the Monte Carlo 1962 and 1963. 1962 Seatbelts are introduced as standard, several years before becoming mandatory. Saab Sport (special version of Saab 96), featuring 841 cc engine, developing 52 bhp with separate engine lubrication and triple carburetors, as well as front disc brakes, presented at Stockholm Motor Show in Spring of 1962. 1963 Saab becomes first volume maker to offer diagonally split dual brake circuits (MY 64). 1964 April 2 (name's day in Sweden for Gudmund) sees start of first all new car under project name "Gudmund" and which was to become the Saab 99. 1965 Saab Monte Carlo 850 is the new version of the Saab Sport. 1966 Saab's first four-stroke engine: the Ford-built V4 introduced in the Saab 96 and 95, Initially in parallel with the two-stroke engine, but the latter was swiftly phased out as the V4 became an immediate commercial and rallying success. 1967 Sixten Sason, designer of Saab cars, dies shortly before the Saab 99 is previewed for the press in Stockholm on November 22 in its initial two-door version. First completely new model since the 92-96, it is powered by a 1.7 liter in-line engine developed for Saab by Ricardo and built in the UK by Triumph. 1967 Saab Sonett II arrives. A two-seater sports car developed specifically for the US market to bring glamour to the Saab name in an automotive market where European rally success had little impact. Initially launched with the two-stroke engine from the Saab 96 (just 258 units) but soon fitted with the V4. The II was added to distinguish it from original Sonett which now became Sonett I. 1968 Pilot series of Saab 99 tested by Saab engineers and hundreds of private drivers in Sweden in a final field test prior to volume production in the autumn as MY 69. 1969 Saab-Scania AB formed following merger of Saab AB (then manufacturer of military jets, Datasaab computers, advanced electronics, as well as Saab cars) with Scania-Vabis AB (trucks, buses and diesel engines). New automotive division formed to encompass all vehicle operations within Saab-Scania with head office in Södertälje, involving transfer of all passenger car commercial staff from Linköping. Production and engineering (excluding drive train) continue in Trollhättan. Work starts on development of own 2-liter engine for the Saab 99 range to be made in a new engine plant in Södertälje. Saab-Valmet plant starts operations at Uusikaupunki. This 50 per cent owned operation was established for assembly of CKD Saab cars both for Finland and for re-exportation.

aj on twitter aj on facebook