Out the back of the Saab Museum – part 1

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Sweden was a day spent with Peter Bäckströom looking around the Saab Museum.

I was accompanied on this visit by Dave R from the UK and we started the day with a great chat session, joined by Saab’s former PR guru, the now retired Christer Nilsson. Following a quick lunch, we got to drive a few of the museum’s cars (more on that later) and of course, the incredible ride we got in the Saab Sonett.

After all that, we headed into the museum itself, though not through the front entrance as the general public does. One of the things I asked Peter was whether we could have a look around the back 🙂

Saab have a great selection of cars in the museum itself, but there’s also a whole bunch of interesting cars out the back. Not all of them get out into the display area, but they’re held by the museum due to their uniqueness or their significance in Saab’s history.

Here’s a look at a few of them. We didn’t take the covers right off. There’s not enough room. We didn’t look at everything there either as there just wasn’t enough time.

Take a peek:

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There’s a Saabo caravan there, but the reason for the photo was the yellow van you see to the left.

This is an electric vehicle based on a Saab 99 that was crafted into a postal van for trial use. The reasons for it’s demise are unknown to me, but given that it was probably over thirty years ago, one could surmise that the range wasn’t quite useful enough.

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You’ve all heard of the Saab variable compression engine, right? This is the test mule in the museum.

The engine is in a black Saab 9-5. Word is that despite its impressive performance and economy characteristics, it was never developed to a stage where it could be considered refined enough for mass production and sale.

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Here’s one you mightn’t have heard of.

The 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X was Saab’s official launch vehicle for all-wheel-drive technology. Had they developed it further, the technology under this Saab 9000 could have seen AWD Saabs launched a lot sooner.

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This Saab 9000 was an ergonomic study of sorts, with traditional controls for steering replaced by a joystick in the center of the car.

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This car isn’t considered historical enough just yet.

This is the first Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan to come off the production line. In years to come your kids will be revering this car just like we revere the last Saab 96 that came off the line in 1980.

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Peter tries to get the first and last cars off the line where he can.

This is the last Saab 9000 to come out of the factory, which was made to Peter’s specifications. It’s got all the Anniversary goodies fitted and looks absolutely brilliant. This is one I could see making it on the main display right now.

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Looks like a Saab 900 from the back, right? In actual fact it’s a Saab 90 – a 900 at the back and a 99 at the front (and inside).

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This is a reproduction Saab 99 racecar they’re currently in the midst of restoring. The paintwork is unbelievable.

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One of the things that’s so great about the Saab museum is that the cars are kept as working vehicles. There’s a couple of volunteer mechanics, ex-factory technicians, who come in and keep as many of the cars working as possible.

The display cars are in very good condition, though they’re not pristine. This is a deliberate decision. The cars all have a story to tell (Peter knows them all) and to take away those marks, etc, is to deny the history of the individual cars.

They’re kept running and cleaned up where any damage is caused that takes away from the presentation, but other than that they are allowed to live a life and show that life to the public.

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Notice anything different about this red 99? Maybe the next photo will give it away.

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Yes, it’s a Saab 900 test vehicle. The extended section was needed to accommodate the longer front end of the 900 compared to the 99.

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Another couple of photos of a special Saab 99. This one’s an estate wagon. Thank goodness they made the Combi Coupe instead.

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This interior belongs to a very early Saab 99 that the museum has recently acquired. I’m not sure that it’s particularly significant, but it will be a great example once it’s restored and ready for display.

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