More Saab-at-Bonneville madness

Whilst our mate Bertil builds up his little Saab 96 for another run at Bonneville next year, I’ve just heard about another Saab that ran on the salt flats this year – at 147mph!!!

The story is over at Saabnet, and Ted Y brought it to my attention a few hours ago.

Saab 8600 Bonneville

Here’s the engine, which revved upward of 13,500rpm on the run 🙂

Saab 8600 engine

There’s a good catalog of images at Picasa as well as a soundtrack at Youtube.

Amazing. Just amazing.

Saab stroker to go for two Bonneville records in 2011

You all remember the Bonneville Saab, right?

A quick recap…..

Bertil’s a Swedish expat in the US and after seeing this 96 for sale, decided to buy it to run at Bonneville. He has a history building race engines in the US, and running old 96s back in Sweden.

The car is a 1966 Saab Monte Carlo with a 750cc race engine, triple side-draught Solex carbs putting out around 94hp.

Bertil’s debut trip to Bonneville this year didn’t see him break any records for his class of vehicle. There were some mechanical issues that hindered the car. Aside from that, veterans of the salt flats say it takes between 3 and 7 years for ‘newbies’ to get familiar enough with the environment and conditions to build a car that’s capable.

To the present, then……

Bertil’s sent through a few photos from the flats, below. The car looks absolutely magnificent in this setting. The setting there is so huge. Amazing, David vs Goliath stuff.

Bertil’s also mentioned that he’s building two engines for next year’s Bonneville tilt. He’s not only hoping to break the 3-7 year prediction, he’s hoping to do it in two separate classes!



I’ll keep you posted with any updates as Bertil passes them along and I can’t wait to see what he can turn out at The Flats next year!

An update from the Bonneville Salt Flats

I just received this update from Bertil, the guy who was going for a class record at Speed Week, at Bonneville salt flats last week. I featured Bertil’s car just a few days before he was due to head out to Bonneville.


Hello friends!

This weekend I returned home from the Bonneville Salt Flats…1500 miles each way! Late last Tuesday, after finally satisfying the tech inspectors (who were all very curious about this unusual car) we were able to make a few runs. We were not able to reach the speed needed to break the record.

Wednesday, I took apart the engine, and determined we had mechanical problems I could not repair at the Flats, so we decided to head home.

This adventure is so totally new and there is a lot to learn! The conditions at the Flats are unlike anything we can replicate in the dyno….the altitude and the lack of humidity for starters!

It made me feel a bit better when several Salt Flats veterans said it is “unheard of” to break a record on the first visit. Nobody does it in less than 3, and 3 to 7 is more the average. So I am starting preparation for next year. Now the goal is to be the first guy to break the record in two attempts!

Thanks for all your interest. I am not discouraged; I have a new game plan, so here we go!



My thanks to Bertil for the update. I think it’s absolutely fantastic when Saabs are involved in this type of stuff. The commitment from guys like this is part of the fabric of what we call the Saab Spirit.

Still more information on the Bonneville Saab

I’m fascinated by this story. Here are some related posts:

I’ve received an email from Bertil’s wife. We’ll call her Mrs Bertil for now. Bertil himself was rushing around like mad getting ready for the Bonneville assault.

Here’s what Mrs Bertil had to say:

He bought the 1966 Saab from a guy in California back in 2001. He raced this model back in the 60’s in Sweden. It was in pretty bad shape, and sat in his shop gathering dust for about 5 years, as he was too busy with his business, Bertil’s Racing Engines, to give it any attention.

He started working on the chassis sometime in 06. But what really got him going was accompanying and helping a friend to the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2007. He got the idea to make a super-duper Bertil’s engine to break the record for this class.

He sold his shop and machinery in spring of 2009, which moved the project to our garage! (He still has access to the shop when needed.) Last summer he was planning to make an attempt, but in a last minute effort to get the most horsepower, he burned a piston and did not have a replacement. Quite a disappointment.

But this year he is well prepared, with plenty of spare parts. I should clarify that he is not driving the car himself; the aforementioned friend will do it, since Bertil’s back is giving him trouble and he requires surgery soon.

We’ll let you know what happens next week! Pat (that’s Mrs Bertil to us – SW)

I look forward to hearing about it!

Godspeed, little Saab!

Some more information on the Bonneville Saab

I ran a brief story a few days ago on a guy who’s taking his two-stroke Saab 96 to Bonneville Speed Week.

My email to Bertil didn’t see a reply come into my inbox (Speed Week starts in a day or so and I guess there’s more important things going on) but I did receive some more information from Ray K.

This info was published in the Spring edition of Vintage Views, the magazine of the Vintage Saab Club of North America:

I am Bertil S, owner of Bertil’s Racing Engines, Inc. I am a 45+ year veteran builder of VW and Toyota engines for various formula racing series, with many championships.

Several years ago I found an ad for a 1966 SAAB Monte Carlo in a vintage magazine. Since I had tuned and raced similar SAAB’s in Sweden in the 60’s, I decided to buy this car and restore it in my spare time. It took a few years to get started, and then took longer and was more work than I expected. But I wanted it to be done right.

Since I had been helping a friend at the Bonneville time trials in 2007, I decided this SAAB will go to the Salt Flats! I missed the competition last year because of a last minute mistake in dyno testing. I lost a piston and had no spare. I plan to be ready for this year, with several spare pistons in inventory!

The engine you see in the car is my street engine, 900 cc with 3 Solex down draft, 75 HP. The race engine is 750 cc, with 3 Solex side draft carburetors from the Sonett and tune pipe, 94 HP.

Again, it’ll be interesting to see what Bertil’s up to there in Bonneville.

My thanks to Ray for the extra info.

Saab stroker to run at Bonneville Speed Week

I don’t have much information about this one yet, only that it’s going to happen.

A Swede living in the US named Bertil S will be taking his Saab 96 to Speed Week at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, to run with the big boys. Speed Week runs from August 12th to 20th.

I’ll try and find out some more info about the car and Bertil’s hopes for the meet, but here are some pics to whet your appetite.

Click to enlarge.

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