The Museum Saabs by Editions Atlas pt2

The Ursaab has a scan in the Museum in Trollhättan

In the first part of our article on future Saab models, Dimitri of Editions Atlas outlined the background surrounding the decision to produce a new series of miniatures, the Saab Cars Museum Collection.

How do you go from a full-scale car to a scale model whilst remaining true to the features of the original car? As far as accuracy is concerned, current technologies mean we now have previously unheard of possibilities within our reach thanks to the 3D scanner, which is what we shall attempt to explain here with the help of Dimitri, whose technical perspective on the matter we greatly appreciate.


(…) Once the models have been chosen, the miniature manufacturer sends their metrologist to the museum in order to scan the first cars. Together with the museum’s director and curator, Peter Bäckström, Editions Atlas has chosen the Ursaab to launch the collection in the Nordic countries. The actual model can now, therefore, be digitised in order to produce a mould for manufacturing the car in 1:43 scale.

At this stage, it takes around a day or so to scan the car. But what does this involve, exactly? The metrologist brings with them some rather high-tech equipment consisting of a hinged arm on a cast iron base with a laser sensor at its tip that makes it possible to virtually trace the lines of the car.

The metrologist places the base alongside the car and begins to trace it meticulously, covering every line and edge and ensuring that not a single detail is overlooked. Since the operator is aware that their work will be used to produce a 1:43 reproduction, they can also eliminate or correct certain imperfections in the original, such as any bumps that might appear on the bodywork, or give greater depth to any details that would appear too minor in the scale model, whilst maintaining the overall coherence of the car. It is important to know that when producing miniatures, it is sometimes necessary to slightly distort the reality to ensure that certain features of the original are still clearly visible on such a small scale.

The operator can eliminate certain details or flaws in the bodywork or indeed give greater depth to any details that would appear too minor in the scale model

The same applies to colours, which must be systematically lightened to prevent them from appearing too dark in relation to the original, given that the surface of the scale model is significantly smaller. If the car is symmetrical, the metrologist can get away with only scanning one side. The computer connected to their scanner also enables them to check their work at any moment.

Once they have traced all of the lines of the car, they must start the process again, focusing this time on the volume aspect in order to fill in this ‘wire’ structure. Of course, with the Ursaab in particular, it is important not to miss any of its contours!

There is also another more automated system whereby a hinged ‘head’ scans everything that is found within a predefined space. This system is not, however, able to scan very dark or black objects, which is why the other system is essential for the Ursaab. Once the car has been fully scanned from the outside, photos of every last detail have to be taken so that the engineers (who will go on to produce the moulds based on this digitisation) can see how the car actually looks and have a reference to the original to refer back to. Furthermore, the chassis and interior are produced based on these photos.

A relatively simple, uncluttered car like the Ursaab requires some 300 photos; a more complex car can require up to 500. Fortunately, we live in the digital age!

Once this initial stage has been finalised, the metrologist will set up and finalise the appropriate files to send to the development team at the factory…

To be continued in the 3rd and final part in a few days’ time! 😉

16 thoughts on “The Museum Saabs by Editions Atlas pt2”

  1. If the Saab Car Museum allows a 3rd party company as Atlas to measure all the cars of the museum and turn that into their international sales and I guess great revenues, What is the percentage on the sales that goes back to the Saab Car Museum?
    I believe that is a very valid question.

    • Dear Trued, yes your question is totally valid.

      Atlas and the museum handled that they can have good incomes with this project. We (Atlas) are cooperating really good in this project also to help the Museum.

      The collectors, the Museum, and for sure also Atlas will have benefit of this project.

  2. It would be great to have the ursaab and other saabs as 3d objects to use in ArchiCad when working as architect.
    Put them up on and

    • Confident that the rights belong to ATLAS. You will not get them. So is it open for anyone who wants to measure the odd one off cars in the museum?

        • If it were available for Revit, we could put it in a parking lot of a building model. I’m an engineer who works with Revit and have seen R2D2 in a model and an X-Wing fighter, why not have an Ursaab?

  3. I have a couple of Saab models, but i was thinking after reading this article. i think there are some “originals” and copy brands that make miniature models for Saab? (Original as in, allowed by Saab or even made by Saab itself) or is the model free to make by every company thus making every miniature a “original”? And if there are selected company’s that make original Saab miniature how can i recognize it in my collection? Thanks in advance!

    Sorry for the off-topic.

    Kind regards

    • Your question is difficult to answer, usually a model car manufacturer can’t do a model production without authorization.

      Some let make the models for promotional use, so they are paint the tooling and development costs (as Saab/GM made with Norev for the AeroX for example), usually they let made a special box for this purpose.
      But then the model car producer can take the models in the usual range, so the models are the same but in different boxes. So you can’t say that they are “official” and “unofficial” models.
      The only difference is the way to buy them, Saab retailers or model car retailers…

      Maybe some really small producer didn’t ask an authorization to do the model, but in the last year the car brand are really careful about that and they don’t let reproduce they’re car without authorization…

      I hope that I answer your question, don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more details, I’m working in the model car branch since 1995… and I’m also a collector since more than 30 years…

  4. I just realize that I maybe have to explain who I am for giving such explanation…

    So, I’m Dimitri mentioned in this report. I’m working at Atlas Editions as new product manager, that’s my work, but above that I’m also a Saab enthusiast and collector, so ok, Atlas is a business but behind that they’re also some enthusiasts 🙂

    Greetings from Switzerland.

  5. Does anyone remember or have any of the 1/24 scale promotional models that Saab dealers had in the late 70s and early 80s? Volvo had them too, I still have a green 245 wagon that I obtained in 1976 from a dealer.

    They were made in Finland and were highly detailed.


  6. Very interesting for me also professionally.
    but I have some scale models yet, not the Ursaab. but I prefer rather a bigger size, like the 1/19 or 24.
    to my opinion, physically more easy the correct reproduction of details is better, more realistic; i am not a fan of the 1/43 because of this distortion you have to make.
    but I will surely buy one when it will be avalailbe, that is not the point, as it helps financing the museum.

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