Photo & Video Credits: Saab Automobile
The Saab 9-3 “Viggen” was derived from the SAAB JA-37 Viggen jet fighter. Viggen means The Thunderbolt in Swedish, derived from the Norse god Thor’s warhammer Mjollner.
As we know, the 1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen began as the Saab 900 Concept Coupe in 1995.
It took a whole four years later for the engineering of that concept coupe to be unveiled to the public at the the New York Auto Show in March of 1999.
Peter Leonard, leader of Saab’s SVO team said that “we wanted to give the 9-3 Viggen a strong individuality, a personality of its own that was evident in everything from the external styling to the instrumentation. In addition, the car had to deliver the comfort and feel of driving a high-performance car. It was a design challenge that we relished.”
The Saab 9-3 Viggen’s drag co-efficient was 0.31, and the feel both inside and out of an aircraft cockpit was evident.
The first model year MY1999 for the Saab Viggen and its body continued to be manufactured at Saab’s factory in Trollhattan, Sweden, then shipped in a climate controlled, sealed container to Uusikaupunki, Finland for painting and final assembly at the Valmet Automotive plant.
The painting of the first two years of the Saab 9-3 Viggen, were appropriately colored in “lightening blue”, paying homage to the significance of the “thunderbolt” name.
The Saab 9-3 Viggen Coupe went on sale with only 400 distributed to Saab dealerships in May of 1999.
The next year, Model Year 2000 Saab 9-3 Viggen Convertible and 5-door versions arrived in showrooms during the fall of the same year. Only a limited number of 2,500 Saab 9-3 Viggen models were initially produced annually for a global market.
The Saab 9-3 Viggen model continued until model year 2002, when it ended due to the production of the 9-3 hatchback body style ending.
The Saab 900 Concept Coupe was the prototype for the Saab 9-3 Viggen as we know it back in 1995, a full four years prior to the public seeing it at auto shows and also available in dealerships around the world.
The Viggen has to be without question the best example of a spiritual successor to one of SAAB’s aircraft, the SAAB JA-37 Viggen, given that it was in name and theory 100% “born from jets”.
Here is the original press release in full outlining the specifications beginning with a video:
For Immediate Release Contact: Elke Martin Kevin Smith
1999 SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN â€” SUMMARY
SAAB LAUNCHES ALL-NEW, LIMITED EDITION 9-3 VIGGEN FOR ENTHUSIASTS WITH A PASSION FOR TURBO POWER
Aircraft-inspired Viggen targets Saab enthusiasts with a strong taste for torque Norcross, GA – Saab made its U.S. debut at the New York Auto Show in the spring of 1956. It was there that Saab exhibited its first high performance sports car ”the Sonett Super Sport prototype, a race-bred Saab still revered by Saab enthusiasts today. Since then, Saab has continued to develop limited edition performance legends, cars like the aerodynamic 900 Turbo SPG and 9000 Aero, which combined full-boost turbo engines, sport suspension and modlfcations with an aggressive stance.
Almost exactly 43 years later, Saab unveils an even more exclusive performance-bred Saab at the 1999 New York International Auto Show ”the all-new Saab 9-3 Viggen Coupe. The Viggen name and badge honors the most agile and versatile Saab fighter jet ever developed, the Saab 37 Viggen, renowned for its innovative technology and design. Designed specifically as an advanced multi-purpose aircraft, the Viggen jet was capable of performing diverse duties, such as interceptor, strike, reconnaissance and training duties equally well. Equally versatile, the earth-bound Saab 9-3 Viggen is designed to deliver the unmistakable thrust of Saab turbo performance while retaining traditional Saab character traits, including world-first safety features. Featuring the highest level of performance in a Saab yet, the Saab 9-3 Viggen carries on the tradition of its “hot rod” predecessor’s cars like the 900 Turbo SPG that innovatively blended muscular acceleration with modified suspension and aerodynamic styling refinements. This unmistakable performance character makes the 9-3 Viggen one of the world’s most entertaining front wheel drive automobiles. With 225 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and impressive torque of 252 Ib.-ft. available at just 2,500 rpm through 4,000 rpm, the driver of a 9-3 Viggen will quickly identify with the level of thrust available to Saab 37 Viggen jet fighter pilots.
Saab’s highly modified and responsive 2.3L four-cylinder engine, controlled by Saab’s own Trionic T7 engine management system, resonates with Saab high output turbo character and provides exceptional overtaking performance. The art and science of turbocharged performance has been raised another notch by Saab. The 9-3 Viggen’s engine is 12% more efficient at producing horsepower per liter of engine displacement than the new 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera. More importantly, the Viggen is a full 44% more eficient at producing lb.-ft. of torque per liter of engine
As with the Viggen jet tighter, the new 9-3 Viggen Coupe has the structural technology to support and enable its performance capabilities. To harness the Viggen’s power and direct it properly, a new sports suspension comprised of springs, dampers, anti-roll bars and steering rack mounts has been developed. Transferring the Viggen’s power to the pavement are 17″x7.5″ light alloy wheels with P215/45R17″ low profile Z-speed rated high performance tires. In developing the Viggen jet tighter, one of its key attributes had to be the ability to land and stop in short distances to make use of Swedenâ€™s highway bases if necessary. Stopping ability was equally critical to the development of the 9-3 Viggen. Front ventilated rotors are over three-quarters of an inch larger in diameter and new, larger front calipers with larger pads are employed to haul down the Viggen from any speed. All four rotors have machined grooves for better cooling to ensure repeated fade-free stops in demanding driving conditions.
With the.higher performance capabilities of the 9-3 Viggen Coupe, aerodynamics plays a crucial role as well. Aggressive exterior styling enhancements exclusive to the Viggen reduce aerodynamic drag by 8% (to a 0.31 coeficient of drag), and reduce lift forces over the rear wheels by 60% for superb road holding and high speed stability. Keeping the owner of a Saab 9-3 Viggen well informed and in complete control are new sports seats which provide greater lateral support and driver comfort.
The Saab 9-3 Viggen was developed jointly by Saab Automobile AB’s Special Vehicles Operations team and the Oxfordshire, England-based TNR Group. The TNR Group is owned by Tom Walkinshaw, whose extensive racing background has evolved the company into one of Europe’s
foremost design and engineering houses, specializing in high-performance tuning. The 9-3 Viggen Coupe’s body will continue to be manufactured at Saab’s factory in Trollhattan, Sweden, then shipped in a climate controlled, sealed container to Uusikaupunki, Finland for painting and final assembly at the Valmet Automotive plant. Only a limited number of 2,500 Saab Viggen models will be produced annually for worldwide enjoyment.The Saab 9-3 Viggen Coupe goes on sale in very limited numbers at selected U.S. dealers in May 1999. Model year 2000 Saab 9-3 Viggen Convertible and 5-door versions arrive in showrooms during the fall of 1999.
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1999 SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN – DRIVETRAIN
SAAB 9-3 VIGGENâ€™S POTENT TURBO AND TORQUE COMBINATION MAKES EVERYDAY DRIVING A SPORTING EXPERIENCE
With 252 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, the 9-3 Viggen has all the right moves Norcross, GA ” Saab’s new high output turbocharged 2.3L 9-3 Viggen Coupe is even more fun than a flight simulator, thanks to its impressive turbo and torque combination. Starting with the engine block from the 9-5 series, replacing key internal components and integrating a larger turbocharger, Saab’s engine development team has endowed the Viggen with the ultimate expression of Saab turbo power.
As with all Saabs, company engineers prioritized the engine’s torque output rather than horsepower. Saab’s engine philosophy focuses on the force that gets mass moving, a solution that delivers excellent acceleration and passing performance from an efficient, small displacement powerplant. With 225hp at 5,500 rpm, and impressive torque of 252 Ib.-ft. available from 2,500 rpm all the way through 4,000 rpm, maximum torque is on tap for 30% of the useable power band. This leading mid-range performance makes the new 9-3 Viggen one of the world’s most entertaining front
wheel drive automobiles. More importantly, it provides the pilot of a Viggen power on demand for safe, fast and decisive overtaking to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
To put the Viggen’s power into perspective, consider the following: The 9-3 Viggen’s engine is 12% more efficient at producing horsepower per liter of engine displacement than a 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera. More importantly, the Viggen is a full 44% more efficient at producing Ib.-ft. of torque per liter of engine displacement. To enable the front tires to cope with the amount of torque available, maximum torque is electronically limited in tirst gear to 184 Ib.-ft. and in second gear to 243 lb.-ft.
The incredible power output of the Viggen’s engine is primarily attributable to the larger turbocharger, which produces maximum boost pressure of 1.4 bar, or a full 20 psi, and assisted by less restrictive air intake pipes and a new exhaust system. Saab’s engineers have ensured engine integrity under high boost levels. All Saab turbochargers, the Viggen’s included, have been oil and water-cooled since 1988. Reinforced alloy pistons with strengthened gudgeon pins are utilized. To alleviate any heat concerns for the pistons in such a highly boosted engine, oil cooling jets at the
base of the block, near the crankshaft, spray oil at the underside of each piston for cooling. To ensure that the valves live with the heat, intake valves are sodium hlled and exhaust valves are made out of a special high-tech alloy called Nimonic. Nimonic is an alloy with very high nickel content making it extremely resistant to heat. This material is commonly found in aircraft components that are subjected to high pressure and temperature, such as the exhaust nozzles in jet engines. The Viggen’s highly modified and responsive engine is the first 9-3 to be controlled by Saab’s own Trionic T7 engine management system from the 9-5 series. The brain of Trionic T7 is a 32-bit microprocessor, capable of making two million calculations per second. Trionic is so powerful, it simultaneously controls fuel injection, ignition timing and turbo boost pressure on all 9-3s, as well as the fly ”by-wire electronic throttle on the Viggen and all 9-5s. With the inclusion of electronic throttle control from T7, as the driver depresses the accelerator pedal, it turns the pedal position sensor located in the throttle body. The computer reads this as a request for torque and then directs the throttle motor to turn the throttle plate until its position sensor value corresponds with the requested value. Turbo boost pressure is also increased, if necessary, as greater amounts of torque are requested. The primary advantage of electronic throttle control is that
it overcomes the added inertia that’s present when using a larger turbocharger. It does so by demanding more torque from the engine than the driver has actually requested. Kenth Johansson, one of Saab’s product development engineers, explains: “When accelerating, a driver is actually asking for more air speed, and consequently more torque. However, the larger turbo is still governed by the laws of physics, so there is a delay. We have minimized that delay by controlling the software more precisely and by keeping losses in the turbo wastegate as low as possible. We program the Trionic T7 computer to manipulate the throttle position – opening it further than the driver has requested â€” so the engine can reach the driver’s requested torque level more quickly. lt’s an electronic slight of hand, but the end result is what matters: torque on demand
for the driver.” â€” Another advantage of Saab’s new Trionic T7 engine management system is the consistency of turbo efficiency, whether at low or high altitudes. The Viggen’s high output turbo delivers the same maximum 252 lb.-ft. of torque from sea level all the way up to 9,750 feet. A charge air pressure sensor sends information to the Trionic computer indicating the pressure level in front of the throttle.Denser air requires a smaller throttle angle, so this is adjusted automatically to the ambient conditions, achieving maximum torque as quickly as possible.
The tremendous power and torque available from the Viggen engine is transferred to the pavement via an upgraded clutch assembly, larger diameter â€” stronger driveshafts and strengthened CV joints. The earth-bound Saab 9-3 Viggen, like its jet fighter namesake, is designed to deliver the unmistakable thrust of Saab turbo performance while retaining traditional Saab character traits.
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1999 SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN – CHASSIS
WITH UPGRADED SUSPENSION, TIRES AND BRAKES, THE 9-3 VIGGEN SPORTS THE AGILITY OF ITS JET FIGHTER NAMESAKE
Chassis enhancements give 9-3 Viggen both sports performance and touring composure Norcross, GA – Underneath the exclusive Lightening Blue aerodynamic shape, the new Saab 9-3 Viggen Coupe is endowed with both the soul and the systems to maximize its performance capabilities. To harness all of the Viggenâ€™s substantial power and direct it properly, an exclusive new Saab sports suspension comprised of springs, dampers, anti-roll bars and steering rack mounts has been developed.
Working with engineers from Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR), Saab’s Special VehicleOperations (SVO) group optimized the suspension elements to provide crisp handling and maximum grip while maintaining ride compliance for comfortable long drives. Ride comfort was achieved by shortening the springs at all four corners by only 10mm, maintaining a good amount of suspension travel with the 17″ wheels and tires. Visually, the Viggen’s stance is substantially lower, courtesy of the exclusive Viggen aerodynamic package, while ride height is maintained with 10mm taller wheels
and tires. The larger diameter wheel and tire package fills the wheel arches more fully, enhancing the lower, more aggressive stance of the Viggen.
To coordinate the balance of the suspension with the improved aerodynamic balance of the body, the rear springs were stiffened over 25% while the front springs were stiffened only 5%. These spring rates, along with the recalibrated valving of the dampers, reduce the initial body roll on turn in, while still allowing a high level of ride comfort at speed. Optimizing the anti-roll bars with the rest of the suspension, the rear bar is left unchanged at 26mm diameter while the front bar diameter was reduced 2mm, to 24mm, to improve traction while accelerating out of corners. Transferring the 9-3 Viggen’s prodigious power to the pavement are 17″x7.5″ light alloy wheels with 215/45 x 17″ low profile Z-speed rated high performance tires. The Dunlop SP Sport 2000 tires were developed in conjunction with Dunlop to match the suspension tuning of the 9-3 Viggen. “We’re very pleased with the resuIts,” says Sven Wernstahl, Saab chassis engineer for the 9-3 Viggen. “The sidewalls are soft enough to provide the ride comfort we were looking for, and the tire compound generates the traction necessary to match the Viggen’s sharpened handling characteristics.” ln developing the Saab 37 Viggen jet fighter, one of its key attributes had to be the ability to land and stop in short distances to make use of Sweden’s highway bases if necessary. Stopping ability was equally critical to the development of the 9-3 Viggen. The larger 17″ wheels enabled Saab to utilize larger brakes and provide deceleration capabilities to match the Viggen’s performance potential. The new front ventilated brake rotors are over three-quarters of an inch larger in diameter (12.13″ versus 11.34″ on the standard 9-3s), and matched with larger calipers housing new brake pads of increased surface area. Coordinating the balance of front/rear braking potential with the suspension tuning and aerodynamic package, rear rotors and calipers are the same size as the standard 9-3 models. All four rotors incorporate the use of grooves machined into the rotor surfaces to improve initial “bite” and provide better cooling for repeated fade-free stops in demanding driving
The Viggen also incorporates the use of a larger brake master cylinder with a twin diaphragm brake booster to provide confidence inspiring brake pedal feel. As with all Saabs, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and a four channel Anti-lock Braking system are incorporated as well. Stiffer
steering rack mount bushings were developed and incorporated to give the pilot of the 9-3 Viggen more precise and direct steering feel.
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1999 SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN – EXTERIOR DESIGN
EXCEPTIONAL AERODYNAMICS, ANOTHER LINK BETWEENSAAB 9-3 VIGGEN AND ITS JET FIGHTER NAMESAKE
Form follows function in development of aerodynamic enhancements for new Viggen Norcross, GA ” Nowhere is the connection between the Saab 9-3 Viggen and its namesake, the Saab 37 Viggen jet fighter stronger than in their exceptional aerodynamics. At Saab, form hasalways followed function, and that philosophy is again apparent in the aerodynamic elements of the 9-3 Viggen. Saab’s chief designer, Einar Hareide doesn’t compromise this design tradition. He believes that good aerodynamics should be an inherent part of all Saabs, and that “any additions to
the aerodynamics should have a purpose, rather than simply being cosmetic.” The 9-3 Viggen’s aggressive front spoiler, rocker panel extensions, rear bumper cover and rear wing aren’t just stylish â” they serve a purpose. Fully integrated into the already sleek shape of the Saab 9-3, these elements give the Viggen dramatically improved aerodynamic properties. The Viggen’s coefficient of drag (Cd) has been decreased a full 8% to 0.31 Cd, and Saab’s chief aerodynamic engineer, Hakan Danielsson, has also reduced lift forces at the rear wheels by 60%. Instrumental in decreasing the Viggen’s drag to 0.31 Cd is the deep front spoiler and pronounced rocker panel extensions. The front spoiler pushes more of the airflow at the front of the Viggen over the surface of the body rather than allowing it underneath. The integrated rocker panels contain and channel what airflow there is under the body rather than allow it to dissipate from the sides. When the limited and directed underbody airflow exits at the rear it properly integrates into the airflow off the rear wing. Working together to reduce drag these elements not only improve the Viggen’s stability at speed, but also reduce both wind noise and fuel consumption.
However, the advantages of utilizing such an aggressive front spoiler do present another challenge. Increased airflow over the car adds to the lift forces at the rear of the car, which can have a destabilizing effect under heavy braking from high speeds. To counter this possibility, the rear wing
was designed to dramatically reduce lift forces at the rear and regain the front/rear balance of the car.
To optimize the overall aerodynamic package, and particularly the rear wing, Saab designers spent many hours in wind tunnels with 1:5 and 1:3 scale models before testing with full-scale Viggens. Six full-scale tests were carried out at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) facility in Nuneaton, England, before final verification was completed at the Research Institute for Automotive Technology (FKFS) facility in Stuttgart, Germany. “We used FKFS as our reference tunne|,” says Danielsson, “because it is state-of-the-art and highly accurate. FKFS also gave us the ability to perform tests up to 155 mph whereas MIRA is limited to 80 mph. Obviously, with a high performance car like the 9-3 Viggen, everything must be tested at high speed â” but the FKFS tests simply conhrmed the MIRA tests were very good.” The end result was a 60% reduction in lift forces from the standard 9-3’s coefficient of lift (CI) of 0.15 to an amazingly low 0.06 Cl for the Viggen. The Saab 37 Viggen’s delta wing design provides the lift and agility necessary to enable this multi-purpose jet tighter to perform its airborne duties. In contrast, the inverted rear wing designed for the 9-3 Viggen, with greater surface area on top than on the underside, keeps the earthbound Viggen firmly planted on the ground by creating an area of low pressure beneath the wing. This brings back the desired front/rear balance, providing greater high speed stability and a more linear response to hard braking, preventing the 9-3 Viggen from “nose diving” during high speed deceleration. Balance is the key, not only for Saab 37 Viggen jet Fighter pilots, but also for pilots of the new, low flying Saab 9-3 Viggen automobile.
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1999 SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN’S INTERIOR DESIGN
AIRCRAFT-INSPIRED SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN COCKPIT PROVIDES SUPERIOR DRIVER CONTROL
9-3 Viggen drivers in control with superb ergonomics and supportive sport seats Norcross, GA – Like the cockpit of a Saab 37 Viggen jet tighter, the interior of the Saab 9-3
Viggen is designed to provide superior driver ergonomics. The driver’s seat is positioned in the Viggen’s cockpit to enable full control of all functions. The Viggen exclusive light-gray dashboard fascia is slightly curved around the driver with all controls and buttons logically grouped in order of importance. All components and switches are black so they stand out from the light gray panel and are easier to tind at a glance. Interior door handles are chrome so they can easily be located in the dark. The 9-3 Viggen is also equipped with Saab’s Night Panel system, another direct influence of aircraft ergonomics. Night Panel enables the driver to turn off potentially distracting lights and instruments with a single switch, improving visibility. Information is then displayed on a need-to-know basis.
Starting with the Viggen’s exclusive stainless steel doorsill plates with Viggen logo, every element of the car’s interior is representative of its high performance character. The sport seats, unique to the Viggen, feature a raised and extended center bottom cushion for excellent thigh support and pronounced seat side bolsters for lateral support during spirited driving. “l’m particularly impressed with the seats,” says Jan Vidarsson, Saabâ€™s engineer responsible for the Viggen’s interior. “I really feel our engineering partner ” Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) ” was able to utilize their extensive racing experience in the creation of these very supportive seats. What’s even more beneficial to the Viggen buyer,” adds Vidarsson, “is that the seats retain the use of the existing 9-3 seat frames. By doing so we have been able to incorporate the existing Saab safety features into the seats ” such as the head and chest protecting dual-stage side airbags and the Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR) system.”
Viggen-exclusive leather treatments complete the sporty environment of the cockpit. All 1999 Saab 9-3 Viggens have Rocky Black leather seat upholstery with textured Deep Blue leather inserts to match the unique Lightening Blue exterior paint. The upper portion of the seatbacks, front and rear, feature embossed Viggen delta-wing emblems representative of the delta-wing shape found on the Saab37 Viggen jet Hghter plane. The textured Deep Blue leather trim carries over to the door panel inserts as well, and a Viggen specific leather covered sport steering wheel, leather shift knob and shift lever gaiter complete the interior package.
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