Archive for 'Lime Rock, Connecticut'

The SAAB Quantum I & II, a history by Dave Hosmer

Posted on 22. Mar, 2007 by .

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quantum i walter kern color 600 The SAAB Quantum I & II, a history by Dave Hosmer

Photo Credits: Dave Hosmer

Dave Hosmer, a longtime devoted Saab enthusiast has recently granted Saab history with written permission to republish his extremely well written and thorough history on the SAAB Quantum I & II models. The Quantum I & II were designed by Walter Kern, a colleague of Ralph Millet who was the former founder and president of SAAB Motors Inc, who was responsible for bringing Saab to the United States in 1956.

Here is Mr. Hosmer’s writeup in his own words.

QUANTUM I & QUANTUM II
by
Dave Hosmer

Back in the 1950’s Walter Kern was an active sports car racer in the Boston, MA area and all the cars he raced had the same problem, loss of oil pressure in hard cornering. Consequently he blew up several engines. Walter was Manager of Design, G. A. Philbrick Research, Inc. and he thought he could come up with a better design. At this time, SAAB started importing cars through the port of Hingham, MA and established a warehouse and car preparation facility there. Walter heard about the strange Swedish car with its 2-cycle engine and thought, “Hey, no oil. Maybe I won’t blow up any more engines if I use a 2-stroke.” But, Walter being Walter, he also wanted to improve on the handling characteristics of contemporary sports cars. Since he previously had a serious “off course excursion,” he thought a car with neutral steering would be better and safer on the race course.

So, on July 1, 1958, Walter sketched the first design of his “SAAB Spyder.” quantum i 3 photos color 200 The SAAB Quantum I & II, a history by Dave Hosmer This sketch clearly shows his intent to use SAAB components in this car. It was eventually named the Quantum presumably because Walter was a physicist. He and some racing buddies decided to build the car. He talked to Bob Wehman, who happened to be General Manager of Service and Spare Parts for SAAB Motors, Inc. Through Bob, Walter met Ralph Millet, President of SAAB Motors. Ralph supplied (sold or gave?) the SAAB parts for the car. Russell Blank, another sports car racer, who owned Eugene Engineering Corp, a sheet metal company that manufactured parts for the aircraft industry, built the chassis.

The Saab 93 engine and transmission were fitted as in the sedans. To achieve his design objective of neutral steering, the radiator and spare tire (required for GT racing) were located as far as possible to the rear. As in the Saab street cars the track was 48″, but the wheelbase was only 73″ and the overall length was 106″. It is widely believed that the car was originally fitted with a 750GT motor. The rear suspension is standard Saab. However, in order to have the fenders and hood profile low; and to keep the center of gravity as low as possible Walter used a very unique front spring design.

Early testing and racing successes led Walter and three other buddies, Alfred C. Conrod, Senior Engineer, instrument Technology Laboratories Div of Itek; John Suomala, VP for Engineering Gabriel Electronics; and Norman Karasick, President, Swift Business Machine Co. started Quantum Corp, a car manufacturing company, with offices at 31 Milk St., Boston, MA sometime in 1960. Quantum Corp is recognized by the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline. MA as a New England auto manufacturer, registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The April 24, 1960 issue of the Sunday (Boston) Globe Sports has a picture of the Quantum on the starting grid at an SCCA drivers’ school. It is shown in its first body that was hand-formed aluminum. This body was RATHER crude and sometime later replaced with a more “attractive” (???) one.

Walter claimed to me that the first time off the trailer at Thompson, the car equaled the track record for its class. He also said that “In the wet, the car would beat a Ferrari.” He attributed this to the excellent handling of the car. Although Walter never drove the car competitively ( remember the afore mentioned off road excursion) , a race driver named Joe Dodge campaigned the car successfully at Lime Rock and Thompson. CT. He placed 6th overall and 1st in H Modified during a race in Thompson, CT on May 31, 1961. The car made this appearance in the “improved” body very nearly the same as its current configuration.

Bill Pelley owned Quantum I prior to1989 and only autocrossed it. He sold the car to John Aibel in 1989. quantum i without body300 The SAAB Quantum I & II, a history by Dave HosmerAccording to the logbook, from 1989 to 2000, John ran the car at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix five times and raced the car seven times at Lime Rock. George Vapaa bought the car in October, 2003. Since he’s owned the car it’s been raced at Pocono, VIR, Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, Summit Point and Lime Rock.

I had always been told that Quantum I was the first chassis and that Quantum II was the Quantum I chassis with a body on it. Walter never corrected that in all my conversations with him. In the late 1990’s, I got a phone call from a man in the Finger Lakes area (he got my name and phone number from who else but Bud Clark) claiming that his friend had a Quantum race car. His description of the car matched that of what I thought was Quantum II, with the exception of the color. This car was painted white, whereas all the cars Walter produced we painted red. Needless to say, I was skeptical. Several months later I had to pass through the area on a business trip and decided to check the car out since it was less than an hour off the New York Southern Tier Expressway. The owner of the car’s name was Richard Blank. He took me to his shed and showed me the car. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I knew that John Aibel owned [ what I believed to be ] Quantum II and his car was red. This car was white and looked just like the pictures I had of Quantum I.

Then Richard told me how he acquired the car and everything fell into place. His father, Russell Blank, had passed away and Richard had to clear out his father’s shop outside Boston, MA. The shop was Eugene Engineering. In one corner of the shop under a pile of “stuff” was this car, so he dragged it home and put it in his shed with the intention of working on it with his kids, since they knew so little about their grandfather. They kids named the car “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, because of its similarity to the movie car. Richard remembers that when he was a young boy in the ’60s, his father, Russell, would take the car and go racing for the weekend. Richard believes that the car had a “competition motor” which was removed and returned to SAAB in Sweden at some point and replaced with the current stock engine which is a 750cc standard SAAB 93 engine (according to the casting numbers). I showed Richard one of the Quantum III pictures that I have that were taken at the 1962 New York Auto Show and he identified one of the people as his father. He was surprised.

quantumii 300 The SAAB Quantum I & II, a history by Dave HosmerSeveral months after my visit, Richard called asking for assistance in getting the car running. I contacted Gary Stottler, informed him of the situation, and asked him if he could help Richard out since he lived about an hour away and I live about five hours away. Gary spent a few days helping to get the car running and Gary feels that the current engine is very nearly new and is one of the quietest (mechanically) stroker engines that he has ever heard. Richard had to part with the car and Quantum II now resides in Gary’s garage. Since neither Scott Prentice, Bud Clark or myself had ever heard Walter mention a second Quantum I or II, I often wondered if Walter knew that a second car existed. After Walter passed away and before Russell Blank’s Quantum surfaced, I was given Walter’s scrapbook by his wife Barbara. In compiling this history, Scott gave me copies of pictures that either Walter or Barbara had given him. One of the pictures is of a white Quantum II with Massachusetts dealer plates, so Walter must have known that the car existed. Scott, George Vapaa and I now agree that George’s car is indeed the Quantum I chassis and that Gary Stottler’s car is Quantum II.

The racing success of the Quantum’s and resulting publicity, caught the interest of SAAB. Walter Kern would go onto design the Quantum III with the intent of producing an attractive sports car for the public, but I’ll save that tale for later.

This article is based on fact, recollection of discussions with Walter Kern, and some speculation as to his intent.

Acknowledgements: Scott Prentice, Richard Blank, George Vapaa, Gary
Stottler

9/28/06

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SAAB 93 – Vintage Photography, Lime Rock, Connecticut

Posted on 26. Feb, 2007 by .

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Saab Automobile USA has recently put together a number of vintage photographs from the 1950’s and 1960’s from the days of SAAB Motors, Inc. as I have been shown here previously in New Haven, Connecticut and New York City.

Here are some photographs from the Saab 60th Anniversary media kit of SAAB Motors Inc at Lime Rock, Connecticut during their racing days.

saab 93 lime rock ct2 1956 small SAAB 93   Vintage Photography, Lime Rock, Connecticut
SAAB Motors Inc. – SAAB 93 Racing Photo, Lime Rock, CT 1956.

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

saab 93 lime rock ct 1956 small SAAB 93   Vintage Photography, Lime Rock, Connecticut
SAAB Motors Inc. – SAAB 93 Racing Photo, Lime Rock, CT 1956.

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

saab 93 lime rock ct3 1956 small SAAB 93   Vintage Photography, Lime Rock, Connecticut
SAAB Motors Inc. – SAAB 93 Racing Photo, Lime Rock, CT 1956.

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

saab 93 lime rock ct1 1956 small SAAB 93   Vintage Photography, Lime Rock, Connecticut
SAAB Motors Inc. – SAAB 93 Racing Photo, Lime Rock, CT 1956.

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

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Skip Barber & Saab-Scania Racing Partnership 1986-1993

Posted on 02. Jan, 2007 by .

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 Skip Barber & Saab Scania Racing Partnership 1986 1993

barber pro series template1 Skip Barber & Saab Scania Racing Partnership 1986 1993
In 1986, Saab collaborated with Skip Barber by creating the “The Barber Saab Pro Series”. This series was a spec series, in which all cars were identically prepared by Skip Barber Racing which used Saab engines.

This collaboration went on for 8 seasons, 1986 until 1993.

For More Information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barber_Saab_Pro_Series and
Jeff Powell’s website
http://jpowell.tripod.com/saab-rarities/skip_barber/bob_sinclair-imsa-history.html

Please enjoy the footage I managed to obtain beginning twenty years ago, in 1987 from the former president of Saab-Scania of America, Inc. Mr. Bob Sinclair over the summer of 2005. Thank you!

I have also provided some photos of the Skip Barber Saab that was up until 2005, in the main entrance to former Saab Automobile USA training facility in Wallingford, Connecticut. Thank you Mr. John Moss for your time and dedication to the Saab community.

Lime Rock, Connecticut – 1987

Miami, Florida – 1987

Portland, Oregon – 1987

Watkins Glen, New York – 1987

Elkhart, Wisconsin – 1987

Sonoma, California – 1987

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Saab Vintage Film Project stalled..for the moment

Posted on 07. Dec, 2006 by .

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The Saab Vintage Film project is currently stalled..for the moment after receiving a phonecall from the conversion company stating that the original quotes we discussed are now “inaccurate” and the new cost is $200 per reel which is approximately 500 feet worth of film. Their costs are .40 cents per foot. I need to find a company with a better cost, say .20 cents per foot or less that does a decent job. I really thought I could go with this company, now the search begins for another capable company that can do this project for us here.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know. All contributions have will continue to be held until we find a new source. I was hoping to see this EMS Rally video in the next week, oh well, I guess that’s life! At least we got some other videos coming in the next week from VHS including the recent video on the Quantum III at Lime Rock, Connecticut in 1963.

saab ems rallye 16mm closeup Saab Vintage Film Project stalled..for the moment

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SAAB Quantum III – Lime Rock Park, Connecticut 1963

Posted on 07. Dec, 2006 by .

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A special thank you to Scott in New Hampshire for providing this video which is 1 of 6 rare videos that arrived in the mail yesterday.

This video is of the SAAB Quantum III at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut in 1963. The video was originally in 16mm format and is black and white and there is no sound, although the films that I received were all in VHS format thankfully.

This is a great video seeing the Quantum III race, I have never seen it in action like this before. Incredible!

saab quantum 3 SAAB Quantum III   Lime Rock Park, Connecticut 1963

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Saab – Skip Barber Pro Series (1986-1991)

Posted on 20. Sep, 2006 by .

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barber pro series template1 Saab   Skip Barber Pro Series (1986 1991)
In 1986, Saab collaborated with Skip Barber by creating the “The Barber Saab Pro Series”. This series was a spec series, in which all cars were identically prepared by Skip Barber Racing which used Saab engines. This collaboration ended in 1991 at the time of former President of Saab-Scania, Bob Sinclair’s retirement.

For More Information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barber_Saab_Pro_Series and
Jeff Powell’s website
http://jpowell.tripod.com/saab-rarities/skip_barber/bob_sinclair-imsa-history.html

Please enjoy the footage I managed to obtain personally from Bob Sinclair, the former president of Saab-Scania of America over the summer of 2005. Thank you Uncle Bob!


Lime Rock, Connecticut – 1987

Miami, Florida – 1987

Portland, Oregon – 1987

Watkins Glen, New York – 1987

Elkhart, Wisconsin – 1987

Sonoma, California – 1987

Miami, Florida – 1988

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