When the Swedish Saab corporation decided to build an automobile in the late 1940's, it turned to its own employees for the execution. Since these designers, engineers, and technicians had all been involved in the design and construction of aircraft for Swedish defense, it was only natural that they used their aeronautical knowledge in making a more earthbound vehicle.
The first Saab 92 which appeared in 1950 had the aerodynamic shape of an airplane wing, incorporated a strong safety body in its unit-body construction, and had an engine driving the front wheels.
Over 30 years have passed since the Saab 92 first appeared, and outwardly the 1982 Saab 900 doesn't look anything like that first Saab. But the same basic design philosophy and the same innovative spirit that brought out aero- dynamic design and front-wheel-drive over 30 years ago is still in force within the Swedish Saab-Scania organization, and the 1982 Saab 900 line provides further evidence of this spirit.
Low Rolling Resistance Tires
The 1982 versions of the Saab 900 incorporate a number of important refine- ments into an already proven vehicle, refinements that continue the innovative spirit that has made the Saab cars forerunners in many areas of automotive design.
A major new change for the 1982 Saab 900 line is the installation of the brand new, revolutionary Pirelli P8 low rolling resistance tires. The 1982 Saab models are among the first cars offered in the United States with these new tires. Because of their unique design, tested throughout Europe on Saabs and several other car makes for several years, the Pirelli P8 tires are re- ported to reduce the rolling resistance of the tires by up to 20 percent, thus adding considerably to overall fuel economy. At the same time Pirelli, primarily a manufacturer of high performance tires, has been able to provide the kind of road holding, stability, and durability that its products have long been known for.
The Pirelli P8 tires are available on all 1982 aab models, except the 900 Turbo three-door hatchback sports sedan, which for 1982 comes with Pirelli P6 high performance tires.
Broader Product Range
For 1982 the Saab product range has been expanded to incorporate the new four-door sedan into the 900 base line series. The four-door sedan was ori- ginally introduced in 1981, in the upscale 900S line and the high performance Saab Turbo group. The three-door hatchback is also available in all series of the 1982 Saab line.
All models are available with either a five-speed manual transmission or with automatic transmission.
Also new for 1982 on four-door versions of Saab 900S and Saab Turbo is a central locking system, which automatically locks all four doors and the lug- gage compartment when either the inside door lock button on the driverls door is depressed or when the driver's door is locked with a key from the outside.
The 1982 Saab line of automobiles will be available through some 310 Saab dealers throughout the United States about October 1.
When the Saab aircraft engineers set out to make their first car, safety was one of the items uppermost in their minds, and they built a car as solid and sturdy as anything seen in those days. The fact that the early Saabs -- like their successors -- could run with the best, and win, in the most grueling of motoring competitions, the international road rallies, is ample proof of Saab's solidity and handling.
In the Saab 900 the safety design has been continued and refined to make the car one of the safest available. Strategically placed cross members in the floor, together with rolled steel windshield pillars, rolled steel roof rails, and protective bars built into the door panels, form an inner defense perimeter of the Saab passenger compartment.
Underneath, the fuel tank has been safely placed out of harmls way in the tunnel between the rear wheels.
Inside, the Saab steering wheel is designed to gradually collapse onto its patented steel cage and telescoping steering column, should the driver be thrown against it on impact.
Both the front and rear ends of the Saab 900 are divided into l'crumple zonesl' designed to gradually dissipate the force of a collision before it reaches the passenger area.
In addition, the passengers in a Saab are virtually surrounded by energy absorbing materials, including the padded roof liner, padded roof pillars, extra thick padding around the steering wheel, deformable dashboard, specially padded knee protectors, and extra thick padding on the back of the front seats, for the safety of rear seat passengers.
In the area of active safety, the Saab pioneers in their early design already incorporated front-wheel-drive for traction in all weather and condi- tions, and rack and pinion steering for quick and direct response to any move- ments of the steering wheel.
The Saab 900 also offers self-adjusting power assisted disc brakes on all four wheels, with a dual diagonal hookup that provides braking on one front wheel and the opposite side rear wheel should one brake circuit fail, thus allowing the car to maintain maneuverability and straight stopping.
Even if both circuits should fail, the Saab 900 is equipped with an effec- tive additional counter measure: An emergency brake that actually works as an emergency brake. Working on the front wheels, the emergency brake provides about 50 percent of the braking effect of the full foot brake system.
The aircraft heritage of the Saab 900 is clearly evident in the design of the Saab driver's environment. The front seat of a car is a workplace, the Saab engineers feel, and should thus offer all the comfort and conveniences necessary to do important work effectively and safely.
The Saab 900 dashboard is asymmetrically curved so that the driver can reach all controls quickly and easily without shifting seating position. And the large round displays use white symbols and orange pointers over a black background. This, because tests have shown it is easier to observe changes in the position of a large pointer, using peripheral vision, than it is to observe changes, for example, in a digital instrument window.
All instruments are arranged logically in "zones". Thus, the ignition lock is grouped together sensibly with the gearshift and handbrake in their assigned zone on the center console, between the front seats.
The comfort of driver and passengers has always been another major concern of the Saab designers. That's why the Saab interior offers more headroom, legroom, and shoulder room, front and back, than most of its competitors.
And the seats are designed in cooperation with orthopedic experts to pro- vide an "anatomically correct" seating position for drivers of all sizes and shapes. The front seats accomplish this by providing both firm support from the neck to the knees and an infinite range of seating adjustments.
Recognizing the fact that a cold driver is an uncomfortable driver, most Saab 900 versions also incorporate front seats with built-in heating elements. When the seat temperature drops below 57¡F, the front seats, both seating pad and lower backrest, are automatically heated. Once the seat temperature be- comes comfortable, the heating elements are automatically shut off.
Going even further in driver and passenger comfort, the Saab no is also equipped (on models without air conditioning) with a specially designed filter in the passenger compartment ventilation system that removes pollen and dust particles larger than 0.005 mm. Some 460 million people the world over are reported to be suffering from allergies and asthma. The Saab 900 dust filter helps them breathe easier.
Saab Turbo -- Power on Demand
Aircraft engine designers, always looking for higher engine outputs, used turbochargers for this purpose very early on, so it's only natural the Saab would be one of the very first car makes to use turbocharging in a family sedan.
The only difference is that while turbocharging has long been used for top speeds in race cars and aircraft, Saab is using it to provide an extra boost of power only when needed, for passing or hill climbing, while the rest of the time the engine runs quite normally, without wasting fuel unnecessarily.
The Saab Turbo was first introduced in 1978 and since that time, a number of other car makers have started using this simple, but effective way to pro- vide extra power without undue penalties in fuel consumption.
Simply speaking, a turbocharger uses the exhaust gases of an engine to drive a compressor which forces more air and fuel into the engine and thus provides more power.
The Saab Turbo power output is 135 bhp (SAE Net) at 4,800 rpm, and the peak torque is 160 ft.lbs. at 3,500 rpm. The normally aspirated Saab 900 engine develops 110 bhp (SAE Net) at 5,250 rpm and 119 ft.lbs. of torque at 3,500 rpm.
Since its introduction, the Saab Turbo has been widely hailed by auto- motive experts the world over, and Saab still stands as one of the major manu- facturers of turbocharged family cars, with the total output now well over 50,000 units.
In August 1981, the editors of "Road & Track" magazine, in a unanimous vote, picked the Saab 900 Turbo as the "Best Sports Sedan for the Eighties".