A-Z Of Marques NO 63: Saab

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The marque: Swedish aircraft manufacturer Svenska Aeroplane Aktiebolaget made its first production car in 1949.

The marque: Swedish aircraft manufacturer Svenska Aeroplane Aktiebolaget made its first production car in 1949.

The history: Saab's first car, the 92, was powered by a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine that remained the basic Saab powerplant for the next 20 years. Early cars were futuristic and aerodynamic, yet small and tough, and soon enjoyed rallying success. The basic form of the 92 evolved through the Fifties, with the fibreglass-bodied Sonnet sports car introduced in 1956 and an estate version, the 95, in 1959. By the Sixties Saab had upgraded to a Ford V4, but an even more radical change was planned. In 1967 a completely new car was unveiled, the 99, and its styling cues can still be glimpsed in Saabs today. This, in turn, evolved into the larger 900 of 1979, a remarkable enough design but when fitted with a turbo became a very special car indeed. The 900 was followed by the even bigger Saab 9000 in the late 1980s. By then, however, Saab's small size meant its indpendence was in jeopardy and General Motors took a 50 per cent stake; it now enjoys complete ownership. Modern Saabs have more in common with other GM products, mainly Opel/Vauxhall. Still, somehow Saab continues to embody understated luxury.

Defining model: Saab 900 Turbo.

They say: Move your mind.

We say: Alternative.

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