The Saab-Lancia 600

I received the following information via email from a guy in Norway named Jørgen R. Eggs and I have written about the Saab-Lancia 600 before (here and here) but I thought this would make a good addition to the available library of information on this little known model in Saab’s historical range.

As a bonus, Jørgen also provided a scanned copy of an original Norwegian Saab-Lancia 600 brochure, which I’ve reproduced below (reduced size due to bandwidth).

It a little disappointing Saab never got their hands on a Delta Integrale as well. Just imagine…..

My thanks to Jørgen for the info and images.

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I was googling the Saab-Lancia 600 today and your web site came up. It looks like this car is kind of a “mystery” car to many people!

Well to start with, this car was only sold under this name in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland).

To take the history first, The old 96 was coming to an end so SAAB was looking for something to replace it with. They were afraid that many of their old customers couldn`t afford to go upmarket for a 99, so something had to be done. They felt the Italian Lancia brand was closest to their own ideology when it came to cars. They had been in discussions with the company before, about Lancia Appia engines for the 96, but as everybody knows, it was Ford who got the longest straw with those.

So they turned to the Lancia company again, and they found out that soon they would introduce a new car, but the model was almost completed so there was not much they could do to “SAABifie” it. What SAAB could do (and did do) was to improve the heater, put a stronger starter to the engine, improve the ignition and give it better rustprofing for the cold climate in Scandinavia.

In this deal they also signed up for developing a new bigger car together with the company (this would become the 9000 and Lancia Theta), and they would also import and sell Lancias through their dealer network.

The Lancia Delta (that the Saab Lancia 600 was based on) won the the car of the year award in Europe, and the first cars apperaed at the dealers in may 1980. But the car was priced too high, only a few bucks more would buy you a “scandinavian budget 99!, so it wasn`t to become a replacement for the 96 as it was meant to be.

Unfortunatly the build quality wasn`t as good as it should have been either, the cars that had metalic paint had problems with the paint shipping off after only a few years.

Overheating was also a problem. The reason for this was Saab’s own fault, because to get a better (warmer) heater system they hadn`t just put in a bigger heater core but they also changed the thermostat of the engine from 82`c to 92`c, and to top this, the summer of 1980 was on of the hottest for many years in Scandinavia. This is why so many cars overheated. So after they finally figured this out and changed it back to 82`c for the summer and 87`c for winter, the problem was solved.

But it was too late; the car had got a bad reputation and had become stone cold on the second hand market too.

The car was a real gem to drive, except for the gearbox, which didn’t have the easiest shift in the world. They got a better gearbox in 82, but it was too late. They still sold the model in 1984 in Norway, but not many were sold in that year. “Most” 600s alive today would be from 1980/81.

I have`t seen one in trafic for about a five years now, and before that probably another five years earlier. I have sure been looking because I want one. I almost bought one when was living in Sweden in the 90s (working at the saab factory in Trollhattan) but bought a 1974 Saab 95 instead.

In the 90s you could by these cars for silly money, so most ended up in the hands of youngsters who drove them to pieces, and finaly ended up in a breakers yard : ( .

My daily drive is a 9000CD from 94, and I have Fiat 125 from 69 as my classic car. My daily work is as a car mechanic, but not at SAAB unfortunately. I grew up with these cars, my dad bought his first SAAB (a 67 model 95) in 1972 and he only drove Saabs until his death two years ago, except for two years when he owned a Ford (which he hated).

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Again, my thanks to Jørgen for this additional insight into one of Saab’s lesser known badge jobs.

Following are the images from the Norwegian sales brochure. Click to enlarge.

saablancia 01.jpg

There are plenty more images from the brochure after the jump…..

saablancia 02.jpg

SL600Big1.jpg

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saablancia 07.jpg

SL600Big2.jpg

saablancia 10.jpg

saablancia 11.jpg

SL600Big3.jpg

saablancia 16.jpg

saablancia 17.jpg

SL600Big4.jpg

saablancia 20.jpg

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saablancia 22.jpg

saablancia 23.jpg

saablancia 24.jpg

SL600Big5.jpg

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