Back in Black – Saab 99 Turbo hits the track

If you’ve met an Aussie who is a total Saab nut and you’ve met him outside of Australia, then the chances are high that that particular Saab nut would either be Steve B (known as “sab” on the various internet forums) or the owner of this particular 99 Turbo – Brendan B.
Brendan’s been to the Saab Festival and has got to know many of you through his running of the Saab 99 Register.
A few weekends ago, Brendan got his black 99Turbo out of the shed and took at for a run at Oran Park racetrack as part of a European Performance Car Challenge meeting.
Brendan’s 99 was running in a coupe class and within his class, he ran a very credible third place based on handicap points.

  • Jeff Morton – BMW 135i
  • Mark Croudace – Porsche 986CS
  • Brendan Burdon – Saab 99 Turbo
  • Michael Cousidis – BMW M3 (E46)

He also managed to embarass a few newer and higher rated cars during the session as well.
Brendan’s daily driver is a RenaultSport Clio, which is a pretty quick little hot hatch. Despite being 20-something years older and a fair bit heavier, the Saab 99T was only 5 seconds slower around the park than the Renault, a deficit Bredan reckons could be eradicated with some better brakes, tyres and suspension.
The modifications made to the 99T are mild and are as follows:

  1. Exhaust – Custom 2.5 inch Stainless Steel turbo back exhaust with a straight through muffler.
  2. Gearbox – Custom built 4 speed, basically using all the best bits from a mixture of 99 and C900 gearboxes.
  3. Ignition stystem – Replaced the standard ignition with a MSD 6 BTM and replaced the magnetic sensor in the distributor with an Optical sensor. Also replaced the coil with a Crane PS91 coil and am now using Iridium spark plugs.

He says:

The Ignition would have to be the single best mod I’ve see done. Improved the fuel efficency for around town driving and have more power through the whole rev range.

To put the 1:38 best lap time Brendan managed into perspective – he was keeping up with an R32 Golf at 200 km/h on the back straight and managed to totally embarass a BMW E30 325iS, which could only managed a 1:52, a full 14 seconds per lap slower.
As you can see from the watermark, one of the photos above was taken by a guy called Matthew Mead. He is a motorsport photographer who does some very handy work. You can see more at his website. I like this guy as he shoots with real 35mm film as well as in digital.
More of his photos from this specific session are also on Flickr.
A final thought…..
Have a look at that second photo again. This is why the 99 Turbo is still my favourite Saab of all time. The snub nose, the aggressive stance. As befitted the first turbocharged model they ever made, this was a car that meant business.

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