Thursday, December 22, 2011

1956-1957 Saab 93

"The Saab 93 is the ideal car for vacation trips with the whole family. Reduce your travelling expenses and sleep in the Saab-93. The strong and well-dimensioned steel body is an example of Swedish quality in its best meaning, giving the driver and passengers the best possible safety. The carefully adjusted steering, the outstanding road holding characteristics, the synchronization of the gear box etc. are the results of the highest precision in design and production. The modern sweeping streamline shape, the beautiful colours and the smart interior equipment give elegance to the Saab-93."

With Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget finally throwing in the towel and filing for bankruptcy last weekend, another famous carmaker has just become history. This shot of a tiny Saab 93 amid Havana's vast Cemeterio Colón is our tribute to this once admirable and extravagant car company.

Established as an aircraft manufacturer in 1937 to build planes for the swedish air force, Saab started to look into other businesses once it became clear that the Second World War would come to an end, and presented its first car in 1947. And what a car it was! With a drag coefficient of cw=0,30, the tiny aerodynamic Saab 92001 bettered everything else on the road. Saab's expertise as an airplane maker was clearly visible in both aerodynamic shape and lightweight construction. It's worth mentioning that the aerodynamic shape had merely an eye-pleasing effect, as aerodynamics are quite negligible at speeds below 60 mph (100 km/h).

The Saab 93, pictured here, was the second revision of the original design, and the first Saab to be widely exported out of Sweden. The first steps on american shores were as small as the cars: two cars were displayed at the 1956 New York Auto Show, and the positive public reaction made the company send a first shipload of 100 Saab 93 across the Atlantic in the same year. The first Saab dealerships opened in the New England area, in vicinity of Saabs new distribution headquarters in the port of Hingham, Massachusetts. In 1957, Saab sold just 1.410 cars in the U.S., but by 1959, already 12.000 cars found new owners. Obviously, the tiny Saab came just at the right time, when the american car market suddenly demanded economic compact cars that the "Big Three" couldn't offer.

Next to the massive Detroit Iron with big and powerful engines, the Saab 93 and it's 748cc, 33hp three-cylinder two-stroke engine seemed tiny, but its lightweight construction made it a way better performer than many would think. Alone the fact that this model was built in various variations until 1980 is a clear indication for the convincing overall concept of the small Saab.

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