SAAB – DNA

Skärmavbild 2016-02-21 kl. 17.32.15

Some of us can say we have a Trollhättan DNA, well if You’re like Tim and me are born by parents raised on the banks of the Göta River that night be true. But just half a century of making SAAB cars the city could hardly have changed any of the pairs in the double helix we call the DNA.

The DNA that some people refers to as having anything to do with SAAB has its roots in the chassis dynamics. Form and shape of the cars has nothing to do with DNA since SAAB has never looked inte the rear mirror when making the new car models. Look at the 99 that replaced the 96 in the late 1960. The only thing that resembled the old car was the front wheel drive an the solid rear axle to some extent. So over the years the design has changed in a progressive way and one of my friends Björn Envall was in control of this for almost 30 years.

The SAAB – DNA is a complex mix of advanced applied and theoretical physics combined with the drivers feel and ability to respond to various forces and frequencies told by the car. When harmony is reached almost as when mastering an instrument. That is where the SAAB – DNA can be found. Some feel it instantaneously some not at all.

– Jörgen Trued, SU Historic Rally Team & S2AB Rally Team Manager & Driver

The DNA is in the perception and feel of the driving dynamic of the cars conveyed to the driver. Probably the best guy in the world in this field is another of my good ex. SAAB friends Magnus Roland. The principles he outlined for the driving dynamics of a SAAB is the DNA. That thinking was used by Magnus when he worked on the Le Mans Corvettes some 15 years ago but before that on the 9000 in particular. A rear axle geometry hat still is top notch and a truly affordable construction. There are manufacturers out there who are interested in this axle. Magnus has worked out some amazing constructions and 3 years ago in with his colleague in the S2AB AB, ex rally world champion Stig Blomqvist a 5 link rear axle for Audi. Or should we say put on an Audi 4S. In testdrives head to head with a standard Audi S4 Stig managed to drive the 5 link faster and with more accuracy and less need for micro adjustments. In collaboration with Benteler in Germany they decided to make a sales push with Audi. But apparently Ferdinand Piech himself stopped it all saying that it was not invented in house. The SAAB 9000 was developed with Stig´s driving style as an inspirational source. And The 9000 turned out to be a great performance car.

From what I have heard is that the NEVS corporation at least CEO Matthias Bergman is interested in the “SAAB-DNA” and the two guys who can inject that into their company is Magnus and Stig. To truly understand the underlaying principles for the fundamentals of chassi dynamics would need a presentation by Magnus himself. He is truly a genius when it comes to get to grips with the twilight-zone of classic mechanical engineering old school and the quantum mechanics and forces for beyond the average scope of a traditional car company. A company making average cars. The car going down the road and into a corner with a driver behind the wheel is a very complex system, truly a system of systems. All frequencies in the tire rubber to the G forces and the the forces in a microscopic level bonding the car to the road are hard to understand for a skilled to average skilled engineer. The driver feels sensations and experience the environment, this interface with the car is where the DNA might be hidden. But to do a truly great car that makes you a better driver requires deep expertise in applied and theoretical physics and psychology (Perception & Decision making). I have had many great discussions with Magnus on the topic of driver performance, he is the wiz of chassis physics and have the Man-Systems-Interaction knowledge.

 

https://youtu.be/khUDDMCgBr0

Most probably the best Swedish drivers through history both from the city of Örebro. Stig Blomqvist and Ronnie Petterson

https://youtu.be/SPmhit980e4

10 thoughts on “SAAB – DNA”

  1. Very interesting read. Nicely done, Trued. A couple comments: In a true sense of DNA, appearance IS in fact tied into the discussion. When DNA is passed through generations of humans and other animal species, appearance is one of the things that passes through the DNA. Hair color, eye color, skin color, sometimes height and weight, shoe size, etc. Even facial structure. And ironically, the passing of the torch from the Saab 96 to the 99, as you mentioned, in the late 1960s, in my opinion, was not such a good thing. The 96 appearance was very true to Saab’s origin of an aeronautically born automobile. That shape had the look of an airplane without wings. I was a child with a cottage at Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania just minutes from the oldest continuously run Saab dealer in the United States, Kunkle Motors. I was probably about 7 years old or so and I noticed “the new Saab” didn’t look anything like the ones I was used to seeing buzzing around the lake access road—-a shape that to a child, looked like an elongated Volkswagen Beetle. I loved the 96. The 99, not so much. Looked “ordinary” to me and in a way, I think lost some of the charm when that appearance DNA was messed with. But I understand—-renewal is sometimes necessary in industry. What does this have to do with anything? Well, to carry it a little further, other aspects of Saab’s “DNA” remained largely intact for the last 4 decades. That included front wheel drive, a jet inspired “cockpit” when other car makers were clearly less “vertical” or wraparound. It also included turbos—-Saab hung its hat on bringing reliable turbocharged engines to mass market. Others tried and failed. Saab broke through. DNA? For a car, let’s put appearance aside and let’s put a blindfold on and be a passenger. Put me in a Saab and by listening to the driver start the car—-and the smell of the interior—-and then riding on a course, I think I could tell that I was riding in a Saab. Make me the driver (after taking the blindfold off of course!) and the driving dynamics would confirm it for me. And yes, the drivetrain and turbo was and is a big part of that DNA. So the bring it full circle, for me at least, moving away from this—-to an electric car—-is foregoing Saab DNA. Sorry, but having a few employees of Saab, engineers or janitors, whatever—-cannot make an electric car into a Saab with Saab DNA. Why? Because in a world where almost every other manufacturer in existence is still selling mostly gas and diesel engined cars, many with turbochargers—-there isn’t a necessity to move away from that. So it’s not like there’s no choice here. There IS a choice and NEVS choice is to forego the DNA and start a new species. If we were out of oil and/or if there were government mandates that prohibited making or selling gas and diesel engined cars, then we could maybe say that NEVS EVs are “the closest thing to what Saab motorcars used to be—-they have people working for them with Saab DNA.” But sorry, with so many manufacturers still making fun, affordable FWD cars with turbos—-THOSE are remarkably closer to Saab DNA than any NEVS electric car can ever be—-because at the heart of this is the fact that an electric car doesn’t and can’t have the majority of the DNA built into the Saabs that have been made since the company was founded. One last thing: Back in the 1940s or 50s, car companies really did have tight knit DNA because the industry wasn’t that old yet—-in its infancy, borders and purity, all that jazz. But in the 50 years that have passed, designers, engineers, executives, etc. have all moved around to other manufacturers, bringing ideas from where they started. In this way, it’s sort of like a world without borders. As people move around, marry and have children with people of different backgrounds/races, and their children do the same, with each generation, the DNA becomes one more step removed from where it started. I am by no means saying that is a bad thing—-just making the comparison with the car business. This business has become more generic and so have the cars. And with NEVS takeover of Saab, it’s about as radically different as I can imagine. Electric cars for China? How much further away from Saab’s original mission or existence the last 50 years can we get?

  2. Well said Trued! Contrary to what Angelo says, I believe it is part of Saab’s DNA to find their own road and not be stuck in the same rut as other manufacturers. I know Saab experimented with many other power options, e.g., steam and other forms of ICE engines that I couldn’t even understand. From what I’ve read, the driving dynamics of electric cars are superior in every respect to ICE cars because of their instantaneous torque and lower center of gravity. This will help incorporate the DNA you described. I just hope the chassis/platform designers allow for sophisticated, flexible suspension designs from the get-go.

    • Other manufacturers aren’t in rut, Saabyurk. 2015 had a lot of them in record sales territory while Saab is out of business. Out of business is a rut we should be trying to dig out of for Saab. And I think I misunderstood the point—-I was thinking about the Saab cars DNA, not really the corporate DNA. Yes, if corporate DNA is what we’re talking about, “finding your own road” or doing things differently is definitely a hallmark at Saab. My point was more about the cars—-that the DNA of those cars is still viable, including smaller displacement engines with turbochargers, jet inspired cockpit, etc.

  3. A somewhat upright seating position and erect windshield would be a good start and won’t eat up much of the engineering budget.

  4. Trued, is this chassis setup developed by Magnus Roland suitable only for performance purposes like in the S4 or in it can be also used in “ordinary” cars as well?

    • I can be used in any car (I Think) the NEW Audi A4 range has a 5 linked rear axle configuration to some extent similar to the one shown by Magnus Roland but some things are missing. You can feel what is missing if You take ot the Audi A3 on a “spirited” drive in wet condition. What You will experience is most probably what Magnus, Stig and I have felt. It is not good and still the A4 launch was halted almost a whole year due to chassis issues. Guess Mr. Piech should have hired S2AB to get the job done.

  5. The real Stig. 🙂
    I agree, Trued. The DNA of Saab is (among other things) an ability to start something new. As different as the 99 was to the 96, the 9000 was different to the 99/900. The ability for revolution, so to speak.
    And at the same time Saab refine things, evolve things. Like making the 92 last for 30 years by evolving it into the 93 and 96 and making the 99 last 24 years by evolving into the 900.
    Revolving and evolving, but all the time keeping the feeling, the driving sensibility. The DNA.
    I feel at home in a Saab, the way I don’t feel in many other cars.

    If Magnus Roland is involved the resulting car will be good.

    • Hans H thanks for the kind words. Saab has always evolved. Any car manufacturer who wants to boost the performance of their car line should hire Magnus Roland. Few persons I know have the depth of knowledge and invaluable experience as Magnus. A company with a bright future should have a couple of “walking encyclopedias” (japaneze saying from MITI), people who has been around.

    • If trued is not able to prove as a saab specialist that the 99 valet car in the us is a taxi spec or not i lose faith in him. And put a cd from john hiatt on: have a little faith in me.

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