Archive for 'Toppola'

The Details of the Toppola Camper

Posted on 26. Sep, 2007 by .



Drawing Source: Official Toppola Website

People on the move enjoy the Toppola Camper!

With the Toppola Camper you can hook up your trailer or “housewagon” behind your SAAB. For those that own a horse or a boat or likewise need a transport carriage, the Toppola Camper is the ideal option. It gives you possibility to live both cheaply and comfortably.

Many self-employed have seen the possibilities with the Toppola. On the transport carriage you will load the work gear, anything from ladders and paint cans to mini-diggers, and on your Saab you’ve got the Toppola Camper. Working far away from home, it’s comfortable after the days work to spend the night in your Toppola Camper.

Well built and well equipped

There are many parameters that make the Toppola Camper a success. Quality, the very detailed work and all the gadgets are some of them. Even in the standard version the Toppola Camper is very well equipped.

When you first enter the Toppola Camperyou’ll realize how throughly engineered the design really is. In front on the second level, you’ll find the generous queensize bed (200 X 170 cm) with room to spare even for large people. Underneath the big bed there is room for 2 more bunks when the cars rear seat is folded in the down position.

The Pantry part, where you get full headroom (200 cm) it is well lit and comfortable, due to the large windows that can be opened. In the ordinary working height there’s a sink with running water connected to a drainage system with a water tank and electric stove with two burners. In the roof above the pantry there’s an air vent.

The Toppola Camper is made for the Nordic climate and is well suited as a winter living area. The electric kerosene stove is also a heater and the walls are well insulated. That’s why you can live comfortably in the TC even in the winter.

Toppola Camper has several storage spaces for “loose” objects. Inside the door there’s even a small closet where you can hang your clothes.

* Toppola Camper is built to be mounted on 3-5 doors Saab 99 and 900
* Length:3.3m
* Largest width: 1.9m
* Height: 2.0 meters
* Top height mounted on a car: circa 2.5m
* Internal height: (standing up) 2.0m
* Weight: circa 150 kg (total weight increase circa 115 kg due to the removal of the rear hatch when the TC is mounted.)
* Material: Fiberglass polyester, sandwich construction with termanto-isolation as “distance material?”
* Outer walls are 20 mm thick altogether (=Winter proof). Internal cupboards and shelves is made in board or plywood covered with a hardened surface.
* Car mounting: 6 roof points with strengthened plates. Rear mountings in the ordinary rear hatch lock.
* Electrical system: 12 volts connected to car electrical system.
* Internal lights: 2 bedside, 3 in the pantry
* Water: Electrical pump with an automatic tap. Freshwater tank holds 10 liters.
* Drain: Connected system with spill water tank.
* Electronic kerosene stove (Wallas) with 2 burners. Works with the internal fan system as a central heater.
* Ventilation: 1 roof valve, 1 free operable roof hatch with mosquito net, 2 smaller windows on the upper level, 2 large windows in the pantry.
* Mount time: 15- 30 minutes
* Extra accessories: Fire extinguisher, foot step, kitchen fan, AC, Spring hardener, mount stand.
* Finance: possibility of to 8 years finance with 20% cash up deposit.

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The History of the Toppola Camper

Posted on 26. Sep, 2007 by .


There has been a lot of inquiries as of late arriving here at Saab History, specifically pertaining to the state of the Toppola camper top that properly fits Saab 900 hatchback models.

The Toppola history is quite a lengthy one, and thanks to the individual who designed the Toppola, Peter Malmberg of Sweden, we have it here translated from Swedish to English by Calle of the Saab Turbo Club of Sweden. Enjoy!

Source: The Toppola Website

Everything started in the early eighties when Arwo Pullola from Filipstad got inspired to build a car-camper later named Toppola.

The word Toppola came from “Topp” (Top) – and “ola” a finish endin (suffix) since Arwo hailed from Finland.

In 1982 i got in contact with Arwo and this later led to us buying the project from him and started the compalny EMICO i Kågeråd AB. We rented an old forge fitting our purposes.
Kågeröd is located between Helsingborg and Malmö a couple of miles from the coast.

We – thats Peter Malmberg and Matts Mollestam, both from the boat industries, where Matts was a very talented boat builder, and I was selling boat assecories.

This has influenced us building the Toppola that’s always been built boat-ish as possible with quality in mind.

The spring of 1982 got of to a great start with ten shippings in which we also started to get used to the project, leading to us working 24/7 to get it all done in time. After ten campers we had to temporalily stop the production because of flaws in the mold. Using this mold would result in a lot of extra work, and we decided to re-design them.

This doesnt mean the first Toppolas dont live up to the same quality as the later ones.
The distinguishing feature for theese Toppolas is that the door is placed on the left side of the rear, and the rails on the roof are corrugated and that the body tilts a little backwards.

A fun-to-know fact is that SAAB Norway could not wait for the new mold for the Toppolas, they wanted two for a presentation. Their two Toppolas was therefore made in the old mold.

The next generation used molds that worked much better in the production, and slightly changed the apperance. The rear was raised 10 centimeters to give the Toppola a lighter apperance, the early Toppolas made a rear-heavy impression.

The corrugated surface of the roof rails was was eavend out, and we changed the interior. The door was still located on the left side of the rear. During the summer of 1982 a lot of prototypes were made, all of them a evolution of each other.

Early september SAAB entered the picture. It was an overwhealming time with big vhangdes and a new way of thinking. There was a big difference between little EMICO and huge SAAB.

It was a time of incredible development for the Toppola because SAAB demanded our camper to be as good looking and nice, both on the inside and outside, as their cars.

We changed pretty much everything, the rear door of glass fiber on the left side of the rear was replaced with an aluminium door, located in the middle of the rear. Two small windows, one on each side of the door, was put in. Theese windows was put there for the view from the in-car rear view mirror. A circular window was installed in the top of the door to create a “cabin-feeling” and two small windows was put in head-height in the bed.

All fabrics was changed and light grey carpet on the floor and walls. The interior in cabinets and the pantry was changed and the biggest change, the Wallas-stove was introduced. This gave the opportunity to use the Toppola during the winter. The was both a stove and a heater, expansive as hell, but it made the Toppola a allaround product. Theese changes was made avalible to the public in the 1984 models. During the same period of time the colors of the Toppola was a white top-half, and a black down-half.

SAAB put a lot of work into the project, for one thing they made new brochures in four languages, Swedish, English, French and German. The thought was tp introduce the Toppola in all their markets. They manufactured a 16 page installation manual, also in four languages, and lots of other actions were made to help marketing.

We were included in the end of the production of the SAAB 9000, to make sure they didnt complicate the Toppola installation in the car.

At the SAAB 9000 première there were two black 9000 turbos with Toppolas at the entrance.

At this time the Toppola was the biggest and most expensive original assecorie for a SAAB and everyone was excited. We delivered as many as we could build and at the same time as the upgrade for the Toppola rebuilt the factory in Kågeröd and hired more personnel.

To make a long story shot and to avoid mentioning to many details it became obvius that EMICO and SAAB was to different in both size and culture and we had to close EMICO down. This was before christmas 1984. This was the school of hard knocks, but it was good if you could learn from it.

After this a couple of years with other activity in mind, i got control of the project again. With SAAB out of ht picture i started to think different about marketing. We didnt really have economic resources so i used press-releases. Toppolan was different so the papers was glad to included them, and often came back for a bigger report. This resulted in contacts, and the Toppola goit a place in both Sweden Now abd Sweden Today, which is a paper and a tv-show supported by the export counsil. This gave a lot of new contacs abroad and this led to dealerships in 13 countries. The export of the Toppola was accutally a deficit, since we had to help the new dealers get on their feet. But it was instructive.

We deleivered the most Toppolas to Germany, where we also got the TÃœV approved. TÃœv is the worlds toughest quality standard, where they test everything and test it hard. This took a year and was extremly expensive. We got a great reception in the papers and Tv in Germany but because TÃœv acted too slow, we were no longer news when everything was done. Despite this we sold about twenty Toppolas. In Germany during that time, Ford Sierra and Scorpio was the biggest import.

Simultaneously we got in trouble when a fire broke out in the premises we shared with another company. This was the start of one year of struggling with the insurance company. With both this and the TÃœV-approval in Germany was almost to much to handle. We fought against the current for some time, but in the end it was too hard, and I went on to other buisness. During this time we also had a successful Toppola rental, this was a appricitated way of trying before byuing.

A couple of years with other tasks later, the pressure from potential customers got to big, and i started to work on a brand new Toppola, that later was named Toppola II. When i was starting the project again, i wanted to use all the knowledge and impressions from the early years.

The most important request about the new Toppola, was ofcourse to be able to install the Toppola on all SAABs. To be able to switch the top so only the bottom, the living area, was standard and the rest was changeable. This bottom part was called “Damask” (Damast) and is today avalible for three cars: SAAB 900, 900 / 9.3 and SAAB 9000 CC.

This also resulted in a new model, brand new to us – The Pickup-Toppola. This Toppola fits just about all the pickup’s in the market with only one design. To build a camper for pickup’s was all new, since we got a competely different space to work with. There was no problem fitting a big kitchenette, a big table and four chairs and also being able to keep the same big bed ( 1,70×2 meters) as in the regular car camper.

We already had the technique of low weight building, so it was not problem building a fully equipped camper with a weight below 250 kilograms. We also made work-Toppolas where the interior consisted of both work-interior and living opportunity.

Another problem we had to solve was to make it possible for the owner to by him or herself lift the Toppola on and off the car. This was to be solves as cheap as possible, so that everyone could afford the lifting device, making it easier to mount the Toppola.
We manufactured many variations of this device and they worked fine, but they were expensive. What we did next was to build a scaffold, design “a childs swing”, to put on a couple of blocks, and a trailer winch. To make it all safe we put a hook on the roof of the Toppola.

The body was designed with advise from the aerodynamic team at SAAB Aircraft so that it would create less air resistance and we cracked the far-side so the outer width was set at 175 centimeters. This would result in the outer rear view mirrors were “outside” of the Toppola body, on most models.

Desipte that the width is smaller we have a bigger area on the inside than before and everything is more adapted to rational production.

The bed was big in the old body but we wanted to increase the foot space, we solved this by raisin the front and change the spolier so the matress could slide down in it. Thanks to the cracked far-side the bed got wider down by the feet, and up towards the waist.

The body was rounded in all corners and on the roof for the benefit of air resitance and looks, we extended the back edge on the roof for the air to “slide off” the Toppola easier and that also gave a better possibility to mount solar panels.

The new body also fits the modern day cars with more round shapes.

When we were done with the new body and started building, Sweden entered a economic recession and the leisure market stopped completely. We made a couple of every Toppola model you can see on the pictures.

It felt like the usual bad luck but we have a very good product and who knows what will happend in the future.

This was a part of the Toppola history.

Peter Malmberg

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Posted on 30. Jan, 2007 by .



Saab Automobile product range: Safe, versatile, practical, unique and progressive.
IKEA product range — Modern, functional, attractive, and progressive.

– Different companies, similiar product philosophies

Here is a photo that was recently provided to me of a Saab 99 that at the time, was the choice Saab model for those trips to IKEA. I was wondering how many of you have made it to IKEA in your Saab and have found that the plat-packed design of many IKEA goods works well with the utility and practicality of the Saab Automobile.

In the discussions I have had, I have heard from people that the 9000 was the best, and I have also heard that the 900 convertible was the best because the top goes down and the sky is the limit. Is there a “best” Saab model for such an arrangement?

In an effort to get your responses, I have provided a poll below for you to choose what Saab model in your opinion, is most suited at being the “best” Saab for an IKEA trip. I look forward to your poll results.

Update: Incredible voter turnout today! I have closed the poll at 150, It looks as though the Saab 9-5 SportCombi is the winner! I will post more on this in the coming days.

What is the "best" Saab for an IKEA trip?

  • Saab 9-5 SportCombi (36%, 54 Votes)
  • Saab 9-2x (27%, 40 Votes)
  • Saab 900 3-door Hatchback (8%, 12 Votes)
  • Saab 9000 (7%, 11 Votes)
  • Saab 9-3 SportCombi (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Saab 900 5-door Hatchback (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Saab 99 (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Saab NG 900 3-door Hatchback (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Saab NG 900 5-door Hatchback (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Saab 95 + Saabo (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Saab 95 (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Saab 9-7x (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Saab 900 Convertible (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Saab 9-3 OG 3-door Hatchback (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Saab 9-3 OG 5-door Hatchback (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Saab 9-3 OG Convertible (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Saab 9-3 OG 3-door + Toppola (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Saab NG 900 Convertible (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Saab 900 3-door + Toppola (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Saab NG 900 3-door + Toppola (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 150

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The Dream Trip – Saab 900 and a Toppola

Posted on 02. Jan, 2007 by .




Catharina and Bert Öhman out of Sundsvall, Sweden have recently decided to do what a number of people are doing these days by packing up the Saab and heading for the hills on a road trip.

I am surprised that I have not heard about their trip until now. As of now, they must be in South East Asia. I hope they had a good new year and we look forward to them keeping us updated on their progress!

Photo and Text Credits: Catharina and Bert Öhman



Catharina is 42 years and Bert Öhman 47 years. We live in Sundsvall, Sweden. We are married since six years, and we have been living together for 15 years. Catharina has her own business in marketing and communication. Bert works in PC-support and got unfortunately laid off as our trip started.

Except for traveling our passion is skydiving. We have been skydiving for quite some time, Catharina for 14 years and Bert for 24 years.

Our first plan was to make a trip by sail boat to the Caribbean’s. We bought a boat, a Catalac Catamaran, 30 ft, that we had for a couple of seasons before we realized that saling was not for us. It goes ever so slow and the wind is always in the wrong direction. We decided to sell the boat.

But we were still in for some time off and adventure. We decided to go for a trip in our SAAB 900, from year 1992 with a Toppola camper instead of the boat. We expect to be traveling for two years and are heading for China. Along the way we will visit quite a few countries. If our money lasts longer than two years we might even stay longer, if the don’t last for two years or if we don’t think it is fun anymore – we go home earlier.

It is nice to be able to enjoy the luxury of taking the day as it comes and do exactly what we want.

Travel Plan

Travel plan by car to China
This is a rough travel plan for our two year long trip by car/camper. The route is open for improvisation. Maybe we will find an irresistible place along the way where we want to stay for a while…

Part 1: Europe, May – September 2005

Our plan is to leave Sweden in May 2005 and take the route through Eastern Europe down to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. We plan to visit the following countries at a slow phase: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. We will stay in these parts during the summer.

Part 2: The Middle East, September – October 2005
In the end of September we will go further south to Syria, Jordan and Egypt. In Egypt we will also pick up a fellow traveller from Sweden. Her name is Anneli, and she will travel with us all the way to India. This means that we will be three persons in the front seat for approximately 800 miles.

Part 3: Asia, November 2005 – June 2006
Now it is time to head for India. In November 2005 we will transit Iran and Pakistan to arrive in India in early December, were we will stay for six months. While we are there we also plan to pay a visit to Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Part 4: South East Asia, July 2006 – February 2007
The next step is to visit China. We want to be in China in the summer when it is nice and warm. Hopefully we are able to bring our car there. If that is not possible we probably need to ship the car from India to Thailand or Malaysia. Myanmar is closed for transit, and the only way around it is trough China or by ship. After China we plan to visit Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia. Vietnam is also a country where it can be difficult to bring a car.

Part 5: Home to Sweden again, March 2007 – May 2007
It is now time to slowly head back for Sweden…


Our car a SAAB 900, 1992 with a Toppola camper is bigger than you think. A spacious double bed covers the roof of the car. And we have made a completely new interior for this trip. We have built stashing for clothes, food, kitchen were etcetera. The kitchenette is equipped with zinc, tap water, a combined stove/heater and a 40 litre refrigerator that runs on solar energy.

There is also a small closet, safe, stereo, 12-220 volt converter, battery chargers, TV-antenna for a computer with a TV-card, portable shower, camper chairs and camper table.

Of course we also have tools, spare tire, extra gasoline, jumper cables, shuffle, tow line, snow chins, repair manuals, fire out.

Despite the size of the camper we have managed to fit in a foldable table and two seats in the in the rear where there also is room enough stand up straight.

It takes a whole lot of smart solutions to make room for two persons and all this equipment. This is really compact living in extreme!

The weight of the camper is only 140 kg (+ our equipment). To drive it fells like a normal car. But everywhere we go people seems to think that this is a really strange vehicle and laughs and points at us. But that’s OK with us, it is always nice to spread a little happiness…

For more information on their trip, please visit The Dream Trip

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Saabo & Toppola – The Details

Posted on 30. Nov, 2006 by .


I have recently located some detailed drawings / blueprints for your reference that I think you will find extremely interesting.



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Saab Camping – Saabo, Toppola & Tent

Posted on 30. Nov, 2006 by .


campingsign.jpg Saab owners and enthusiasts for a number of years have had some interesting options when it came to camping with their beloved Saab automobiles.

One of these items is known as the Saabo, another was the Topolla and of course we have always had the traditional tent.

It was not as clear to me that these options were still widely used today until my return to Sweden last summer during the 2005 Saab Festival in Trollhätten. Although I did not plan ahead to camp during this event, I did manage to visit the campsite when my friend from Iceland showed me around.

I think there could be a possibility that I will ditch the traditional accomodations altogether for an opportunity to camp amongst a great group of Saab owners and enthusiasts from all over the world.

I have provided descriptions and photos I took from the Saab Festival 2005 last summer in Trollhätten, Sweden. Enjoy and please let me know what your thoughts are by posting a comment!


The Saabo which is a trailered camper that was available between 1960 and 1968.

The SAABO caravan (camper/travel trailer) was manufactured in Ljunga, outside Norrköping. The project was started by Bo Bjernekull of the Ljunga plant and Birger Lindberg at SAAB in Linköping.

Officially they were working on a project called MEFAN that was supposed to produce hovercrafts for the military.

Unofficially they made a camper caravan. The idea was to get a product to even out the worlkoad at the helicopter department, that at the time mainly assembled helicopters manufactured in France. After making a model in 1:10 scale they received the OK for production. A first prototype was made at Fisksätra boatyard and the pre-production prototypes at Marieholms Bruk. The first prototypes were made without brakes, but these were soon added. It was important to keep the weight down as the caravan would be used with automobiles with as little as 25 hp (19 kW, like the 38 hp (28 kW) two stroke Saab 96.

Despite the small size they were designed to accommodate a family of four (five with an extra bunk). The interior consisted of two sofas, a dining table, galley sink and two wardrobes. Liquified petroleum gas was used for cooking, heating and lighting. The design was made with two half shells of fibreglass enclosing an insulation of folded cardboard.

The SAABO had large, low set front and rear windows so the driver of the towing vehicle could look right through it in the rear view mirror.

At least 438 SAABOs were made.

For more information on the Saabo, please visit




The Toppola on the other hand was a camper shell that began in 1982 originally for the Saab 99 Combi Coupe, then the 900, the Saab 9-3. They state that they are looking for another company to pickup the production, so an entrepreurial spirited business minded Saab Enthusiast has a great opportunity on their hands! Wouldn’t it be nice to see this in other countries as well as Sweden?

Here is the information from Wikpedia: Toppola is a brand of camper shell originally made for the Saab 99 combi coupé. By removing the hatch and putting on the Toppola you could easily convert your car to a campervan in about 15 to 30 minutes. It is also just as easy to lift the top off and reattach the hatch door when you want to use your car as normal again. Even if the unit looks small it features full standing height (2.0 m) and a 170 by 200 cm bed. It could be fitted with a complete kitchen and even a heater for use during winter. The total weight addition is about 115 kg so the unit is very light.

The Toppola was first made for the Saab 99, but later also Saab 900, Saab 9-3 and Ford Sierra and Scorpio.

As of writing (2006) production has stopped and SCANDO is looking for someone to take over production of the Toppola.

For more information on the Toppola, visit their home directly at as well as Wikipedia source of this information below.




Saab vs. The Tent

Lastly, we have the classic “Saab vs. The Tent” arrangement. As you can see, this is probably the most simplistic method for a good nights sleep in the wilderness. This 9-3 Convertible owner has managed to pitch the tent, but raising the convertible top is another story altogether.

For more information on a capable tent, visit or




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Production Concept