While Saab’s Bilmuseum in Trollhättan recently avoided dissolution and will remain open for fans of the Swedish marque, another major Saab collection will not share the Bilmuseum’s good fortune. As we recently learned through the Saab Club of North America, the vehicles of Saab Cars North America’s Heritage Collection will head to auction this week.
One positive aspect of this auction is that the Heritage Collection will be sold as one lot of 10 vehicles, rather than be scattered to the four winds, which means there’s a good chance another museum or collection will absorb these cars and put them on public display; in recent years, Saab Cars North America has kept the Heritage Collection warehoused, not on public display, in Michigan. In that one lot are the following cars:
This restored 1952 model 92 sedan, serial number 1837, sports a 25hp, transverse-mounted two-cylinder, two-stroke engine and column-shifted three-speed manual transmission. It represents Saab’s first automotive product, and dates from before Saabs were introduced to the American market in 1956. Its odometer currently shows 89,220 miles.
This charming and rare (one of six built) type 94 Sonett Super Sport dates from 1956. It’s the second example built, and was purchased by former Saab Cars North America president Robert J. “Bob” Sinclair, on the advice of “Mr. Saab” himself, Saab rally star Erik Carlsson. This 1,323-pound fiberglass-bodied speedster is powered by a 748cc two-stroke three-cylinder engine making 57.5hp.
Saab offered its customers a taste of “On The Roof” Carlsson’s rally racer with their sporty 1960 93F GranTurismo 750. This restored car, serial number 74389, features a twin-carbureted 45hp, 748cc three-cylinder engine, as well as driving lamps, hood vents, a sport steering wheel, comprehensive instrumentation and deluxe chrome trim. It’s traveled 20,214 miles, and is one of 546 delivered to the United States.
Saab Cars North America owns Erik Carlsson’s famous Royal Automobile Club Rally-winning 1960 96. This 75,768-mile car is equipped with a period Halda Speedpilot, and its 841cc three-cylinder makes a rinng-a-dinnng-dinnging 78hp. According to Saab Cars North America, this particular car, serial number 101541, won the 1960 RAC Rally in Great Britain with Carlsson at the helm.
This beautifully restored 1967 fastback, serial number 197, is one of the rare (just 258 built) original triple-carbureted three-cylinder, column-shift model 97 Sonett IIs. With its fiberglass body covering 96 mechanicals, this 60hp Sonett could reach 60 MPH in 12.5 seconds and top out around 100 MPH. It has 25,353 miles on its odometer.
SCNA’s beautifully preserved 38,785-mile, Cardinal Red 1978 99 Turbo starred in David LaChance’s authoritative Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car Buyer’s Guide. One of 4,233 examples imported, this one-year-only car belonged to a longtime Saab enthusiast before being purchased for the Heritage Collection, and we can report that it’s a blast to drive.
The iconic 900 Turbo Convertible is perhaps America’s greatest contribution to the Saab legend, being the brainchild of Bob Sinclair. This prototype 1986 Convertible, always owned by Saab USA, has been driven 25,696 miles, and it features rear spoiler components created out of wood, instead of the production rubber. The initial batch of 400 “flat front” 1986 900 Turbo Convertibles built at the Saab-Valmet plant in Uusikaupunki, Finland, were painted silver, and all came to America.
Your writer has also had the pleasure of spending time with the Heritage Collection’s special 1987 9000 Turbo, a European-market car that was randomly picked off of the production line and raced around Alabama’s Talladega in the multiple international record-setting ”Long Run.” This car, with a hard-earned 110,978 kilometers on the odometer, is one of two Long Run cars in America – the other is at the Talladega Motor Speedway Museum. A third car is in the Saab Bilmuseum.
Another one of the clever ideas to come out of Saab USA (this one from PR boss Len Lonnegren) in the 1980s was hooking up with John ”Skip” Barber and his racing school, when the folks at Barber used virtually stock 225hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder Saab 900/9000 Turbo engines to create the entry-level, open-wheel Barber Saab Pro Series that was run from 1987 through 1991. These racers combined a tube-frame Mondiale chassis and a Saab engine, and they were featured in some of Saab’s period advertising.
Saab revisited Talladega again in 1996, when this 1997 900 SE 2.0 Turbo was one of six “New Generation” 900s – others included V-6 and naturally-aspirated four-cylinder production cars – to set a new series of international speed and endurance records. It features a full roll cage and special front racing seats with five-point safety harnesses.