I was walking through the snow in the Stockholm December darkness thinking what the project name should be. SU Historic Project Vehicle (SUHPV)
Project Envall. Why not show gratitude to a Saab legend who is still around and full of great ideas, Björn Envall.
So who where the people behind the 99 Combi Coupe project? And why was the notchback 99 evolved into the CombiCoupé / Wagon Back?
It all started in 1971 two years after Saab Chief designer Björn Envall had returned from a short stint at Opel. The design of the new rear was mad with the help of computer calculations, at this time DataSaab made one of the most powerful computers in the world the DT21 so powerful that the US became somewhat upset that they possibly could fall in the hands of the Soviet Union in case of war.
Through the design of the sloping rear window it was kept clean by the airflow. Saab where up there with a few similar designed cars like the Renault 16, Chevy Nova/Olds Omega but with the saabiness like a 184cm depth an 1,5m2 spacious floor. The low lift height just 53cm enabled loading with ease, getting the stuff into the cavernous cargo hole.
The rear door design remained the same basic styling until the end of production of the OG 900 in 1993. Not bad for a design to last over two decades. Saab did not go down the station wagon road, some markets saw those type of cars in a negative way. The station wagon consumed more fuel and got a poor gasmilage. The CombiCoupé stood apart from the rest of the competition in a nice way.
The car became very popular. I still remember as a 9-year-old going with my father to the Saab dealer in Lidköping close to Trollhättan to pick up an Indian yellow 99L with a single carburetors engine and steel wheels. Also remember my dads frustration that day he backed out of the garage with the rear hatch open…
As a kid I felt lucky that my family had such a modern and unique car. 1974 was the first year of that model; the new plastic grille was only on the CombiCoupés so it stood out.
With the successful completion of 4 Saab 99 Turbos over the recent years for two different teams it is now time for yet another unique project. This time a car that played a significant role in the history of Saab.
The first steps in what will be an ongoing saga here at SaabsUnited has been taken. A good 3 door 99 body has been found a mildly tuned engine that should have had been put in a competition car in the 1980ies bought with a lot of other bits and gadgets to make the car complete with the aim for the summer / spring of 2013.
The car is with the painter “Keyes Billack” in Solna near-suburb of Stockholm and has been stripped down and now sports a white coat of base color that will be sanded down before getting the first layer of paint. So it is most possibly going to be a white Christmas in Stockholm. It is white already and the people doing the snow removing has been working overtime.
In next part in this series I will talk about the extensive complicated paintjob and at that time the car is hopefully in the garage on the “assembly” line.
Part of the reason why showing a project like this is to encourage especially young Saab enthusiasts to take the step to take on a restoration or similar car building project. To have a living Saab brand its history must be preserved by the next generation, the average age of Saab collectors and enthusiasts is getting higher all the time. This needs to change.