|From the Saab Museum in Trollhatten, Sweden. Amazingly this prototype is still in working order today|
Aircraft Company, Saab, realised as World War II came to a close, the market for Military
Aircraft which had been their bread and butter for so long, was also ending.
They had been manufacturing Aircraft since 1937, when the company was set up for
specifically that purpose by the Goverment.
Their first Planes were copies of German models that they built under license.
Shortly after this, they began to make their own aircraft and quickly obtained a
reputation for making high quality, fast planes.
They knew that in order to survive financially, they had to diversify into other things.
They considered many things including, Fitted Kitchens, Motorcycles, Cars, Vans and
Most of these fields already had established manufacturers in Sweden already, lIke
Scania for Trucks and Volvo for Cars.
Saab realised though that Volvo cars were quite pricey and what Sweden needed was a
small, affordable and reliable car for families and people of average means.
So, Saab sought to develop such a car and fill a niche in the marketplace.
This project was given the name 'Project 92' and twenty people were recruited to develop it.
Out of these twenty, about fifteen were Aircraft Engineers.
Stylist Sixten Sason was responsible for designing the body of the car, and
Engineer Gunnar Ljungström was the brain behind the technical aspects.
All two stroke Saabs had a freewheel fitted and all were water-cooled.
A 1:10 scale model Ursaab was tested in a wind tunnel and gave a drag coefficient of 0.32,
an impressive figure even by today's standards.
Ursaab is Swedish for 'original Saab'.
The body drawings were completed by January 1946 and a full sized model was ready by
April of the same year, reputedly coated in black boot polish!
(whether there's any truth to this, I don't know.)
Although nowadays, the beautiful styling of this car is apparent to all lovers of classic
cars, at the time there was a mixed reaction to the styling and it came in for quite a bit
of criticism and trepidation on the part of Saab's own management team.
Engineer Ljungstrom said "...if it can save 100 litres of fuel a year, it doesn't matter if it looks
like a frog."
This first prototype was given the number 92/001 and was made using a steel body,
an 18hp DKW two stroke engine, an Auto-Union fuel tank and many other parts were
sourced from scrap yards.
The car was front wheel drive, with a monocoque body, which was very unusual and
advanced for it's time in the 1940's. The styling and sleek aerodynamic lines show it's
Aviation inspired pedigree.
Saab have always been considered to have been a little bit different and unconventional
from the norm of Car makers( at least until they were taken over in modern times by Gm).
The prototype was ready by the end of the Summer, 1946 and was immediately tested
night and day under the most rigorous conditons.
The testing showed ways in which the car needed to be improved.
One of the problems encountered was that the car's wheels were too close
to the bodywork and would get easily clogged up with snow in Winter.
It was decided also that the doors were too thick, heavy and impractical.
Otherwise the car stood up remarkably well to the rigours of it's testing.
One Swedish newspaper of the time, reported that Ursaab had "...defied all efforts
of its driver to destroy it." (Over 50 years later, this Car can still be seen in the
Saab Museum in Trollhatten, Sweden and is still in full working order.)
There were three of these identical prototypes used for testing and between
them clocked up over 530,000 km- equivalent to thirteen journeys around the
world to ensure thorough testing under every known driving condition.
|Any colour as long as it's green, baby!. Rear shot of 1951 car.|
In 1947, their factory in Trollhatten was adapted for mass production to
build this car. They had to bust a hole in the roof to install a tall body
Further pre-production prototypes were tested and it wasn't until June, 1949 that
the Saab 92 was launched to the Public and Press.
Full scale production started in December of that year and 1246 cars were
made by the end of 1950.
All of these 1950 cars were painted in Green, similar to Henry Ford's mantra of
any colour as long as it's black,albeit green in this case.
An unsubstantiated rumour is that the Saab had vast stocks of this paint left
over from their manufacture of military planes and used it as a cost cutting measure,
which I believe is highly probable.
Only 17% of the Saab 92 was made from imported materials.
|1947 Saab 92|
Saab 92 1950-52
They managed to produce around 9000 cars in the first four years of production, yet
waiting lists were large, such was the demand for the car.
The Saab 92's engine was similar to the Ursaab prototype, of DKw origin but with a
higher power output of 25hp and a displacement of 764cc, with water-cooling.
This was a two cylinder engine, very similar to the one that would later power the forerunner
to the Trabant, the Zwickau P70 and was also transversely mounted.
So typical of Dkw engines, the radiator sat behind the engine, close to the bulkhead.
It had a three speed gearbox with a column change.
It's maximum speed was 105 kmph(62.5 mph), which was excellent performance for these
times from such a small engine.
The suspension was extremely clever and I think, anyway, heavily influenced by Dkw, and
utilised torsion bars.
The boot could only be opened from inside the car, making it not very practical.
The car had a 6 volt electrical system.
It's fuel-mixing ratio, petrol to two stroke oil was 25:1.
|Saab 92 De-luxe, 1951.|
The only change Saab made to the 92 in 1951, was the dashboard instruments were
changed from the American 'Stewart-Warner' type to the German Vdo brand.
It's not clear why this was change was implemented. I suspect the VDO were easier
obtained and probably more cost effective.
Saab continued to update this car and make many improvements with subsequent models, 93,95, and the Saab 96 for a time, was the last one to use Dkw two stroke power until 1967 when a v4 Ford engine was implemented and two stroke Saab production ended.
The Two stroke Saab's had remarkable success on the World Rally circuit with many, many victories and successes.
Famous Rally driver Erik Carlsson in particular had many big wins to his credit.
|1951 Saab 92 Interior.|