Tag Archives: model

Erik "On The Roof" Carlsson Turns 81 Years Old

Posted on 05. Mar, 2010 by .

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Legendary Saab rally driver, Erik “On The Roof” Carlsson or “Mr. Saab” to others, turns 81 years old today. Erik “På taket” Carlsson, or in Swedish meaning “on the roof”, was born March 5, 1929 in Trollhättan, Sweden.

The nickname On the roof, apparently originated by from the children’s book, “Karlsson på taket” by Astrid Lindgren. In this book,the Karlsson character lived on the roof of an apartment building. This “on the roof” name was given to Erik Carlsson because he had the infrequent habit of rolling his Saab rally car on its roof.

Erik joined SAAB as a rally driver, just after the first SAAB 92 model was produced and participated in his first rally with it, the Rikspokalen in 1955. Carlsson, married to Pat Moss on March 3rd, 1963, began a relationship that expanded well beyond the homefront. Patt Moss (1934-2008), a younger sister of legendary rally driver, Stirling Moss eventually became Erik Carlsson’s co-pilot through most of his successful rally career.

The early SAABs that Erik Carlsson drove were significantly underutilized two-stroke vehicles that required the driver to keep the high revolutions up while moving, which meant high speeds at all times. When driving these “strokers” at high speeds at all times, Erik Carlsson developed what was called “left foot” braking where you use your left foot to brake while in the same instance, your right foot to maintain the speed at all times.

While Erik Carlsson maintained 1st place in most of his rally circuits, the most notable rally he participated in was the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally where he was victorious.

The year following this victory, both Erik Carlsson and Pat Moss wrote a book called “The Art & Technique of Driving”.

The most recent book on Erik Carlsson’s career was published in 1999, titled “Mr. Saab”. The Mr Saab title was given to Erik “On the Roof” Carlsson by Saab Automobile as he ended his rally career to continue a public relations career for the Swedish car company.

Today, Erik Carlsson has been known to make appearances at various Saab Festivals and Saab Conventions all over the world including the recent Save Saab event in the United Kingdom where he continues to hold the Saab torch. With any luck, maybe you will get a chance to meet this legendary Saab rally champion to thank him for all of the recognition, attention and history he has brought to the Saab Automobile brand ever since.

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How Will Saab Compete In An Era Of Emerging Hatches?

Posted on 14. Oct, 2009 by .

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It is rather ironic, but today it seems like everyone except for Saab, is launching premium hatchback models. I say, good for them for doing it because Saab was historically known for hatches, however that 28-year history of hatchbacks came to an end in 2002.

Joe from Gaywheels states that “The trend seems to be melding the sedan with wagon to get a hybrid hatch. Not as functional as a wagon but arguably more sexy.”

The majority of the competition is now beginning to offer a number of premium hybrid hatchback models for buyers today from 3-doors to 5-doors and the demand is growing.

When it comes to the all new Saab 9-5 sedan, many were hoping including myself for that to also be a premium sport back model with a hatch, but it was not.

To clarify, while Saab has wagons or combi models and even an all new 9-5 Wagon coming. However, these models are not hatchbacks are not a replacement for a sport back premium hatch as they are wagons and therefore a completely different segment.

The question now is going to become, can Saab Automobile, once a legend in premium sport back hatches, compete in a premium hatchback segment where they no longer offer this in their product portfolio? I wonder if ending the hatchback a whole seven years ago and now seeing the market demand what they once had with competitors responding, is going to finally send the message to Saab Automobile. Regardless, Saab best take swift action and include a hatch in the all new 9-5 sedan as a variant and certainly in the new 9-3 to debut in 2011.

Here’s a list of manufacturers with their respected models on board with a 5-door hatchback model today that are part of the premium luxury sport hatch segment including some with the versatile twin-back system.

BMW 2010 3-Series & 5-Series Hatchbacks W/Twin Back

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Audi 2010 A5 Sportback

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Skoda 2010 Superb W/Twin Back

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Honda 2010 CrossTour

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Opel Insignia 2010 5-door hatch (same platform as all new Saab 9-5)

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Jaguar To Launch 2014 Hatchback To Model Lineup

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Porsche – 2010 Panamera

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Aston Martin – 2010 Rapide 5-Door Hatch

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Bugatti 2013 Bugatti C16 Galibier 3-Door & 5-Door Hatch

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A Winter Driving Review Of The 1997 Saab 9000 CS

Posted on 22. Jan, 2009 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab History

The 1997 Saab 9000 CS is the first Saab we have had in the family purchased this past June from a private sale in which that owner was fortunately the first and only owner.

This model marks a completion of ownership of all 9000 body styles starting with and an 89 9000 CC, as well as an 89 9000 CD, while the body styles were all different, they were similiar in that they were all 5-speed models complete with turbochargers.

I would like to cover this review by highlighting the areas in terms of significant Saab brand pillars below:

The Durability:

This past weekend I embarked with my wife on a journey through the white mountains of Northern New Hampshire with the 9000 CS that currently has over 227,000 miles on the odometer. It was certainly still up to the challenge as you will read further.

The Performance:

The strong, yet slightly tired 2.3 liter turbocharged engine complete with Direct Ignition provided the just enough power for the hill climbing I needed and expected. The suspension system along with truly directional snow tires on steel wheels, provided the agility to make it around the sharp bends on the highway in the icy and snowy conditions without worrying about ruining summer alloy wheels or creating unnecessary vibrations to the suspension bits that all-seasons tires are notorious for.

The Versatility:

In an effort to reduce fuel consumption while adding more security to our belongings, I removed the ski rack from factory drilled holes, thule fairing and ski adapter in favor of inside storage this time around. The skis & snowboard were placed in the trunk through the 40/60 split seats that went perfectly flat, although not as smoothly and well designed as my 1989 9000CC (no need to remove headrest combined with a steel bracket hold on end of seat on this model). This 9000 also has the plastic trunk mat accessory with the 4″ lip surrounds which helped considerably given the mud, snow and ice mixture that our boots, and additional luggage had etc (the current accessories or 3rd party mats are not up to the challenge). This vehicle’s production year marked the beginning of the end of the incredible accessories such as this that the 9000 came with, so hopefully in the future Saab will decide to return to producing these items, now considered rare. The rubber floor mats that I also located, also sadly now rare, continued to provide at a minimum, stellar coverage of snow and ice for both the passenger and driver as we freqently found ourselves in and out of the car to clear off snow, ice and other debris during our travels.

The Safety:

The safety cage and dual airbags on this late-model Saab 9000 made us feel considerably safe, but just knowing about the two miraculous crashes on the bridge in Maine and with the moose in Vermont with a similiar model Saab 9000 CS, made us feel that much safer in this particular model. The heated seats, mirrors, headlight, windshield and rear wiper wash systems ensured that the driver was alert while also having optimum visibility at virtually all times. The integrated cornering fog lights are much less of a maintenance item than the previous 9000’s I have owned and seem to be more durable as a result of the design. In addition, the rear fog light unavailable in 9000 CC and 9000 CD models only available in the 9000 CS models, made me feel more responsible as I provided even more visibility to drivers in the rear of the vehicle.

The Accessibility:

Everything from the HVAC system to the Audio system, and all other critical systems were immediately accessible to me, ensured that my driving experience was safe, secure even in the extreme snow and ice conditions that I encountered.

The Experience:

The experience driving the Saab 9000 CS qualified and quantified the Saab difference systematically through all of the brand pillars and continues to capture the feeling of what makes me a devoted Saab owner and enthusiast.

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Garry Small Saab Extends Red Tag Sale Through January

Posted on 09. Jan, 2009 by .

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Photo Credit: Garry Small Saab

Garry Small Saab, site advertiser of Saab History located in Portland, Oregon, are extending the red tag sale personally until the end of January.

To take a look at their inventory, please visit their site directly here :

My favorite vehicle looks to be their SportCombi, which is an Aero model with only 73 miles on it pricing out at $29,246, which originally lists at $38,510.00 MSRP!

Here are the specifications on that model:

2008 Saab 9-3 Aero 4D Sport Combi Wagon
Price: $29,246.00
Engine: V6 2.8 Liter Turbo
Transmission: Automatic
Exterior: Laser Red
Interior: Parchment Appointed Leather
Mileage: 73
MSRP $38,510.00
Red Tag Price $36,996.00
Less Applicable Incentives $7,250.00
Red Tag Price After All Offers $29,746.00
Take Delivery before January 5, 2009 and get this car for another $500.00 off Red Tag Price!
Your Price is NOW $29,246.00!!!!!

*** WOW ***
**** THAT IS A TOTAL SAVINGS OF $9,264.00 ***

AM/FM Stereo, Multi Compact Disc, OnStar, Traction/Stability Control, Touring Package which Includes: Memory Drivers Seat, Auto Dimming Mirror with Compass, Universal Home Remote & Rear Rark Assist.

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Jonas C:Son Kjellberg , Saab USA President 1972-1979

Posted on 12. Nov, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab-Scania Of America, Inc.

Jonas C:Son Kjellberg became acting President of Saab USA, Inc. in 1972 replacing J. J. (Jerry) Upham

During his tenior, he worked in the corner office of the newly constructed 60 Marsh Hill Road in Orange, Connecticut facility alongside longtime PR personality, Lennart Lonnegren.

With Saab-Scania of America, he saw numerous model changes and launches including the pivotal Saab 99 Turbo for the 1978 model year.

Kjellberg worked in this capacity until Sten Wennlo asked Bob Sinclair to come back to work at Saab-Scania of America, as acting President in May of 1979.

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Saab Car Show in Frankfurt, Germany – Photos

Posted on 16. Sep, 2008 by .

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Photo Credits: Saab Automobile Germany

The folks from Saab Automobile Germany and the local dealership in Frankfurt that hosted the classic Saab car show this past weekend, have provided Saab History photos of the event.

As you can see with the photos, there were a number of vehicles present, by local Saab Enthusiasts in Germany as well as Switzerland. On hand, was Peter Backstrom, curator of the Saab Car Museum in Sweden as well as Andrew Dyson, Saab designer at GM Europe.

During the event there was live music provided by Swedish singer Pia Fridhill, and even a live demonstration of a Saab 99 restoration by a master technician at the Saab Zentrum Frankfurt.

Evidently, there was even a parts market, books on hand in addition to model cars and tv clips showing vintage Saabs in action.

Overall, it looks like it was a great time had by all that were in attendance.

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Saab Automobile’s Opportunities For Success

Posted on 05. Sep, 2008 by .

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Saab Automobile has been a leader in innovative thinking through their technologies ever since their early beginnings back in 1947.

Although things have been tough for them sales wise over the past few years, they will finally begin to see some strong new product introductions by the fall of 2009, but is it too late?

I want to begin with the idea of the Saab 9-1 / Saab 9-X BioHybrid because as Steve Shannon pointed out at the Saturday night dinner at the recent 2008 Saab Owners Convention, it was the first concept evidently built on a “compact premium” platform, so it can be produced as-is and is not a one-off like the prior concept cars, so why the delays and uncertainty? The need is certainly there so just build it!

Secondly, we have the Saab 9-3 XC or Cross-Combi, produced in Trollhättan, Sweden, that has been rumored to be debuting this fall as a direct competitor to the Audi Quattro, Volvo XC and Subaru Forrester. The interesting piece about this segment is that Saab should have had this back in 2002, but the project was halted due to GM at the time, stopping all product development in order to reel in costs.

The Saab 9-4x, the successor to the 9-7x, will be coming by the fall of 2009, produced in Mexico for the North American market as a cross-over as we’ve seen in the recent production photograph, very close to the concept vehicle shown in January this year, however that’s all we know at this point. I was specifically told at the 9-4x BioPower concept car’s launch in Detroit, that it will come with a turbocharged 4-cylinder and be touted as the halo vehicle for E-85 in North America. Although there’s been much speculation in the media of this vehicle coming in with a non turbo larger engine, I am optimistic that what I was told couldn’t be anything other than the truth and that we’ll see a 4-cylinder turbocharged crossover when it debuts. If anything other than that is actually produced, what’s the point, really?

Lastly, we have the new 9-5, shown as a rough design sketch also at the 2008 Saab Owners Convention, it also appears to be debuting just after the Saab 9-4x. It should be interesting to see what becomes of this launch because as old as the current 9-5 is, (10 years), this model to be produced at a GM Europe factory in Germany, must deliver as sales for the current 9-5 are totally flat. I worry that the idea of a larger premium sedan for Saab is another pointless exercise at this time as they should be focusing on smaller vehicles, which brings me to my last point.

There Saab Automobile is, with three out of four products set for launch by the fourth quarter of next year. So here’s the question, as Saab has traditionally been a company all about small “rightsized” vehicles, why wouldn’t the smaller premium compact segment be introduced prior to the 9-3 XC, 9-4X and New 9-5?

If GM is committed to seeing the Saab Automobile brand succeed, why not introduce a vehicle that is actually in demand? I question the need for more gas guzzling large vehicles such as crossovers and premium sedans.

I am also deeply concerned that these three vehicles although nice, won’t significantly contribute to turning the sales around for Saab Automobile as the 600 pound gorilla in the corner of the room (a small premium “rightsized” hatchback) would.

Having read this, what are your thoughts? I have included a poll below to see what you think Saab should focus on first, so let’s see what the results show over time.

Update: As of Saturday, September 6th, I am seeing the following votes:

# New 9-5 (52%)
# 9-1 / 9-X (35%)
# 9-4 X (10%)
# 9-3 XC (3%)

I would like to ask those who have voted for the new 9-5, why did you choose this? Was it because you believe Saab really needs a new 9-5, or that you may own a 9-5 and would like to see and/or own the new version?

What Model Should Saab Introduce Next?

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The History of the Toppola Camper

Posted on 26. Sep, 2007 by .

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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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Production Concept