Two very good friends of mine, Alex Rankin and RobinM were both extremely fortunate over this past weekend to be invited by Neo Bros to witness and experience the inaugural track testing of the fantastic Saab 96ss. Here is their story, told by Alex…….Well, what can I say? Robin and I felt extremely privileged to be asked along to the inaugural test run of Neo Bros Saab 96 SS. We arrived at Bedford Autodrome on a bright but cold March the 30th day and received a very warm welcome from everyone that had been asked along to witness the culmination of many years of hard work, designing and building this super Swede! If you cast your minds back to 2013, the unveiling of the 96SS took place at the Saab Festival in Trollhattan to rapturous applause and admiration by all that attended. It has taken a further two years to have the car ready for its first outing on the track. A lot of dedication and attention has been put into getting this car to be the best it possibly can through design, technology and engineering skill. But even after all that, the only way to find out if you in fact have got it right is to drive it. And get it right they did. Boy does this car fly! There is a little bit of tweaking to be done here and there, but overall Neos are extremely happy with all aspects of the car. Nick took me out on the track for an experience I will never forget. The power and performance from this 475 bhp monster is incredible, especially when informed by Nick that he was ‘taking it easy’ and limiting its 8500rpm potential to around 6000rpm. We were quickly charging down the back straight at 125mph, although it had reached 130mph a while earlier. Nick told me that once run in, speeds in excess of 160mph will be easily attained.
Shortly after this I experienced something that can only be described as surreal. Here I was, a passenger in a Saab 96, chasing down a BMW M3 at well over 100mph and hanging on its tail through some of the tightest bends you could ever imagine and loving every minute of it – incredible is not the word!
The relationship between a racing driver and his car can be likened to the relationship one human being has to another. Over time you learn everything there is to know, how to handle, respect, and treat that person, to know that person’s limits, in effect become one with that person. A racing car is no different. The same rules apply. This is a new relationship and Neos have to get to know the car’s limits and how to handle it in all situations. This will in turn give them the confidence to push it to those limits and ultimately extract the maximum performance, becoming one with the car.
Demos of Neo Bros added,
“We are pleased to confirm that the new addition to the Neo Brothers race pack, the 96ss, took its first track ‘steps’ today at the Bedford Autodrome under the watchful eye of its older protective brother the 9-3 hatch.
It is very quick especially at top end. The power output really comes into its own after 4000 rpm which meant that on the straight, it clocked up 130 mph at 6700 rpm (the 9-3 hatch could only achieve 115 mph). However, cars were noise restricted to 87.5db (drive by) which meant that we could not go anywhere near its red line of 8500 rpm. In any event, the 96ss ran out of straight track!
It performed exceptionally well. Except for some tweaking and slight modifications, the only negative was at the end of the day when Andy got bored with following the 9-3 hatch and pushed the 96ss towards 7000 rpm which meant it sailed past the 9-3 but was immediately rewarded with a black flag for breaking the sound limit. End of session for the 96ss but it was no walk of shame into the pits! Looking forward to its next outing at Cadwell at the SOC GB National”.
This car is going to be a great success and Robin and I feel very honoured to have been there during its first real test. All that remains is to thank Neo Brothers for their wonderful hospitality and to say to you; if you ever get the chance to see this car in action do so. You won’t regret it!
Saab 9-6 (1974) body
Saab 9-3 (2005) chassis
Fully custom built roll cage
Custom made body panels in fibre glass
1985cc B207R (dynamically balanced)
Re profiled cam shafts
Posted and polished cylinder head with oversize valves
Wossner pistons and Verdi connection rods
Equal length stainless steel exhaust manifold and 75mm exhaust
Garret GT3071R turbo with 3mm copper gaskets
Braided oil and water lines
750cc Deka injectors
High pressure fuel pump
100mm air intake/air mass
K & N air filter
5 speed Quaif ABT (limited slip differential)
FRONT: 6 pot calipers with 355mm floating disc, race pads (300deg – 850deg)
REAR: EBC 291mm grooved discs with EBC Yellow Stuff rear pads
Fully adjustable Maptun coil over kit with damping/height control
Custom made sub-frame
Poly brushed throughout including engine mounts
8×18 Racing dynamic wheels on Michelin racing slicks
Built in 2013 by Neo Brothers tuned by Maptun