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Classic Car Cultist: Saab 99 Turbo

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On: Tue, Feb 7, 2012 at 12:36PM | By: Chris Salamone

Classic Car Cultist: Saab 99 Turbo

What makes a car worthy of the title ‘cult classic’? Do the legions of vintage auto enthusiasts seek then new-fangled technology, drivability, innovative design cues, or historical relevance? If the criteria for a cult classic come from an aromatic mix of the above attributes, then few cars - ever - will rival Saab’s most prestigious thoroughbred, the 99 Turbo.

The 99 Turbo was the car which defined Saab as a brand. Some might call it gimmicky, ridiculous, or perhaps even controversial. But those individuals would be wrong. This was a car which defied consumer expectations and taught the world something new about mass production cars – you could have a smaller, lightweight vehicle including plenty of storage space, without sacrificing fuel economy on the altar of performance.

How did Saab achieve such a remarkable feet? The 99 Turbo was the first volume production vehicle to incorporate, you guessed it, a turbo charger. Sure, Porsche and a few others had used turbos previously, but none were able to avoid fuel injection issues like the 99 Turbo. By using a “closed loop” emission control system controlled by an oxygen sensor, the vehicle could self-regulate port fuel injection electronically.

A mere 10,607 Saab 99 Turbos were produced between 1977 and 1982. They were offered in 2-door, 3-door, and (very rarely) 5-door models – usually equipped with a four-speed manual transmission. The four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo could generate about 135 horsepower and a 0-60 time just over 8 seconds.

While the 99 Turbo isn’t as media prolific as many other classics, appearing in only a handful of film and TV productions, The Human League’s early 1980s epic ballad “Don’t You Want Me” features a prominently displayed model. As far as we’re concerned, a tribute video from The Human League is tantamount to an endorsement by Bruce Campbell.

Sure, it’s not the fastest, best looking, or best driving car (on account of a FWD platform), but the 99 Turbo was the vehicle which built Saab into an international automaker to be treasured for generations. Well maintained or restored models currently cost between $10,000 and $20,000. And don’t be surprised if that price rises dramatically in the coming years. As the brand disappears into the annals of history, the 99 Turbo’s legacy and relevance will only continue to grow.

As one popular enthusiast website so eloquently puts it, the 99 Turbo is “Not for everyone. Essential to a few.”

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Stephy21 | 9:37AM (Wed, Feb 8, 2012)

Great article this car is a classic.


Sami18 | 9:38AM (Wed, Feb 8, 2012)

Great video's i really enjoyed them.

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