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SAAB as a company may be gone, but itís impact on automotive history isnít. Throughout its 64 years of operation, Svenska Aeroplan AB released some of the most iconic cars to ever hit the road. Admittedly, it also released some of the quirkiest as well. However, most SAAB enthusiasts love the brand for the quirks rather than in spite of them.
With such a storied past itís not easy to nail down the most influential models the manufacturer ever produced, but these five SAABs should most certainly be included in any discussion on the matter. See if you agree with their rankings:
First hitting the scene in 1984, the SAAB 9000 model was created as a larger and more luxurious counterpart to the SAAB 900. It had a very spacious leather interior and some impressive under-the-hood specs for the time. Despite criticisms leveled at the 9000 for sharing the same platform as the Alfa Romeo 164, Lancia Thema, and Croma, it was able to bring SAAB to a whole new level with U.S. consumers.
The vehicle sported 225bhp in a 2.3 litre turbo engine that made it capable of 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds. Considering the boxy aesthetic of the 9000 Aero, this was quite the accomplishment. This alone should earn it a spot amongst SAABís best.
The SAAB Sonett III was released in 1970 and performance-wise wasnít anything to write home about. It initially ran on a 1.5 litre Ford V4 engine and was only able to produce 65bhp. This meant it could only achieve 0-60 after a lengthy 13 seconds. So with such underwhelming specifications, what makes it one of Saabís most iconic models?
The Sonett III was sleek and eye-catching, designed by famed Italian designer Sergio Coggiola. Between its fiberglass body, low angled nose, pop-up headlights, and shortened tail end, the car was a beauty to behold. It may not have blown past the competition, but this just meant it gave curious onlookers more time to soak in its unique and gorgeous look.
When the SAAB 99 Turbo first became available in 1979, the only other turbocharged vehicle available to drivers was the Porsche 911 Turbo. The rarity of such cars helped SAAB cultivate a reputation for innovative engineering that became synonymous with the brand. Consumers were floored at the time by the vehicleís 143 horsepower and top speed of 200 km/h, which passengers could more than feel when it accelerated.
The SAAB 99 Turbo was originally only available in a two-door option but popular demand caused Saab to start producing four-door variations not long after. To this day it is still one of SAABís most beloved products.
The Saab 96 was first produced in 1960 and had a rather unique design that only a SAAB car could pull off. Itís smooth yet bulbous design was one of the quirkier ones ever produced by the manufacturer but plenty of drivers loved it specifically for that. However, its unconventional look is only one minor aspect of what makes it an iconic SAAB.
The 96 helped popularize the SAAB brand with its impressive success on the rally circuit while being driven by famous drivers such as Erik Carlsson and Stig Blomqvist. With its front engine and front-wheel-drive design, the car can boast multiple rally wins throughout its lifetime including the RAC Rally and Monte Carlo Rally Ė twice.
Even though the 99 Turbo was SAABís first foray into turbocharged territory, the 900 Turbo has proven to be the one that has truly stuck in motorists memories. If you ask someone to picture a SAAB in their mind, chances are an image of the 900 is what will appear to many Ė making it a truly iconic vehicle.
The 900 Turbo was able to smooth over many of the 99ís hard angles to give it a far sleeker appearance. An update that proved to be incredibly popular with consumers. In top trim, the car was also capable of 175bhp, a top speed of 195km/h, and even came in convertible body style options.
In addition to its technical specs, the SAAB 900 also received modern updates to its interior that made it not only powerful, but comfortable as well. Even today, the 900 Turbo remains an impressive and awe-inspiring piece of automotive history.
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Last modified: August 13, 2021