Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Saab

Saab


A chronological day-by-day history of Saab.

Friday 13th October 1916

100 years ago

General Motors Corporation was incorporated under Delaware law and acquired all stock of General Motors Company. neral Motors Corporation (GM), American corporation that was the world’s largest motor-vehicle manufacturer for much of the 20th and early 21st centuries. It operates manufacturing and assembly plants and distribution centres throughout the United States, Canada, and many other countries. Its major products include automobiles and trucks, automotive components, and engines. Its subsidiary General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), founded in 1919 to finance and insure the installment sales of GM products, entered the mortgage business in 1985 and expanded into commercial finance in 1999. GM’s headquarters are in Detroit, Michigan. Under the leadership of William C. Durant, the General Motors Company was founded in 1908 to consolidate several motorcar companies producing Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland (later Pontiac), Ewing, Marquette, and other autos, as well as Reliance and Rapid trucks. GM introduced the electric self-starter commercially in its 1912 Cadillac, and this invention soon made the hand crank obsolete. GM remained based in Detroit and was reincorporated and named General Motors Corporation in 1916. The Chevrolet auto company and Delco Products joined GM in 1918, and the Fisher Body Company and Frigidaire joined in 1919 (the latter was sold in 1979). Durant was forced out of the company in 1920 and was succeeded by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., who served as president (1923–37) and then as chairman of the board of directors (1937–56). Sloan reorganized GM from a sprawling, uncoordinated collection of business units into a single enterprise consisting of five main automotive divisions—Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Chevrolet—the activities of which were coordinated by a central corporate office equipped with large advisory and financial staffs. The various operating divisions retained a substantial degree of autonomy within a framework of overall policy; this decentralized concept of management became a model for large-scale industrial enterprises in the United States. Sloan also greatly strengthened GM’s sales organization, pioneered annual style changes in car models, and introduced innovations in By 1929 General Motors had surpassed the Ford Motor Company to become the leading American passenger-car manufacturer. It added overseas operations, including Vauxhall of England in 1925, Adam Opel of Germany in 1929, and Holden of Australia in 1931. The Yellow Truck & Coach Manufacturing Co. (now GMC Truck & Coach Division), organized in 1925, was among the new American divisions and subsidiaries established. In 1931 GM became the world’s largest manufacturer of motor vehicles. By 1941 it was making 44 percent of all the cars in the United States and had become one of the largest industrial corporations in the world. General Motors grew along with the American economy in the 1950s and ’60s and continued to hold 40–45 percent of total U.S. automotive sales. It bought Electronic Data Systems Corporation, a large data-processing company, in 1984 and acquired the Hughes Aircraft Company, a maker of weapons systems and communications satellites, in 1986. Along with other U.S. automobile manufacturers, the company faced increasingly severe competition from Japanese automakers in the 1970s and ’80s, and in 1984 GM began a new automotive division, Saturn, that used highly automated plants to produce subcompact cars to compete with Japanese imports. While GM’s modernization efforts showed some success, heavy losses in the early 1990s forced the company to close many plants and reduce its workforce by tens of thousands. Like other American automakers, however, GM made a robust recovery by the middle of the decade and returned its focus to its automotive businesses. It sold Electronic Data Systems in 1996, and in 1997 it sold the defense units of its Hughes Electronics subsidiary to the Raytheon Company, thus leaving the computer-services and defense-aerospace fields in order to concentrate on its automotive businesses. General Motors became the sole owner of Saab Automobile AB in 2000. By the early 21st century GM had equity shares in a number of car companies, including Fiat, Isuzu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), and Suzuki. In 2004, however, it discontinued the Oldsmobile brand. Four years later GM was surpassed by Toyota Motor Corporation as the world’s largest automaker. In December 2008 Pres. George W. Bush announced an emergency financial rescue plan to aid the “Big Three” automakers—Chrysler LLC, General Motors, and Ford—to prevent the collapse of the country’s struggling auto industry. The plan made immediately available $13.4 billion in government loans from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), a $700 billion fund approved by Congress to aid the financial industry following the subprime mortgage crisis. The loans would allow the auto companies to continue operating through March 2009, by which time the plan required them to demonstrate “financial viability” or return the money within 30 days. An additional stipulation required the companies to undergo restructuring. The money was initially made available to General Motors and Chrysler; Ford claimed to possess adequate funds to continue operations and thus did not apply for government relief. As its financial troubles mounted—the company claimed to be some $173 billion in debt—GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2009. It emerged from bankruptcy reorganization the following month. In 2010 the company officially discontinued both the Pontiac and Saturn brands and sold Saab. The downsizing left GM with four vehicle divisions: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC. In November 2010 GM returned to the stock market with one of the largest IPOs in U.S. history. The following year GM regained its title as the largest automaker in the world.

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Thursday 27th February 1947

70 years ago

Aeroplane manufacturer Saab formally resolved it would start to manufacture cars.

Saab 92

Saab 92

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Tuesday 10th June 1947

70 years ago

Saab introduced its first car, the model 92 prototype. Saab had been primarily a supplier of military aircraft before and during World War II. With the end of the war, company executives realized the need to diversify the company's production capabilities. After an exhaustive planning campaign that at one point led to the suggestion that Saab manufacture toasters, company executives decided to start building motor cars. Saab director Sven Otterbeck placed aircraft engineer Gunnar Ljungstrom in charge of creating the company's first car. Ljungstrom sketched his ideas for an aerodynamic, light-framed, safe automobile and then enlisted the skills of noted industrial designer Sixten Sason to translate the sketches into an automobile ready for production. In search of a name for their new car, Saab executives elected to stay with their existing numbering system. As numbers one through 89 were taken up by military aviation projects, and 90 and 91 by commercial aircraft projects, the first Saab car became the Model 92. Saab ran a series of prototype 92s with German-engineered DKW engines until the Saab engine was ready in the summer of 1947. Not surprisingly, the car received rave reviews from the Swedish press after its unveiling. The first 92s didn't hit Swedish showrooms until December of 1949. The 92 came equipped with a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine that provided 25hp and propelled the car at a top speed of 62mph. All Saab 92s came in the standard color of aircraft green. Only a month into production, Saab began its distinguished history of rally-car racing by entering the 92 in the Monte Carlo Rally. Between 1950 and 1980, Saab cars were a force in the world of rally car racing, due in large part to their durability, handling, and mid-range acceleration. Saab re-entered rally racing in 1996, after a 16-year hiatus from the circuit. Rally races are held on long, arduous off-road courses, and they test the stamina of both car and driver.

Saab 92 (1947)

Saab 92 (1947)

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Friday 26th November 1948

68 years ago

The first Holden automobile was produced. Holden occupies a special place in Australia’s history as the manufacturer of the first all-Australian car. The Holden name, however, is older than the motor car itself and has been associated with transportation in Australia since the gold boom days of the early 1850s, when it first appeared above James Alexander Holden’s leather and saddlery business in Adelaide, South Australia. By 1885, the Holden & Frost company was repairing and building horse-drawn carriages and coaches. In 1914, it produced its first custom-made car body and by 1924, renamed Holden's Motor Body Builders, it operated one of the world's most advanced production lines and was the exclusive body supplier to General Motors in Australia. Australia’s first large-scale automotive manufacturing facility was formed in 1931 when the companies merged to become General Motors-Holden's Limited. Many other Australian companies owe their development to the pioneering spirit displayed by GM-H in those formative years. During World War II, GM-H was a major industrial force in Australia's defence effort. Between 1939 and 1945, it produced more than 30,000 vehicle bodies for the Australian and United States forces and manufactured a wide range of equipment, including field guns, aircraft, aero and marine engines.In 1948, GM-H completed the challenge of building the nation’s first successfully mass-produced car. Australians took the six cylinder Holden 48-215, later nicknamed the FX, immediately to their hearts, and with the release of the evolutionary FJ model in 1953, the love affair deepened. Holden rode high on the sales charts though the 50s, 60s and 70s, producing a succession of landmark models. It exported its 250,000th vehicle in 1972 and in 1977 celebrated 25 straight years of overall market leadership. The launch of the VB Commodore in 1978 signalled a major change of direction. Plans for a new Family II 4-cylinder engine plant were announced the same year, and in 1982 engine exports reached 250,000 units. In 1985, General Motors-Holdens Limited reorganised into two GM subsidiary companies – Holden’s Motor Company and Holden’s Engine Company (HEC). 1987 saw the creation of United Australian Automotive Industries, controlling company for a Holden-Toyota joint venture, the GM arm of which was called General Motors’ Holdens Automotive (GMHA). The millionth Family II engine was exported in 1988 and Holden continued to demonstrate leadership with the introduction of an exciting range of models incorporating significant design, engineering and safety innovations. The joint venture was dissolved in 1995 and HEC was re-integrated into Holden’s manufacturing operations. Holden was established as the GM Product Engineering Centre for the Asia Pacific region in 1996. GMHA was renamed Holden Ltd in 1998 and the company resumed volume vehicle exports in the same year. Holden closed the millennium by winning total market leadership for the first time in 18 years. A $532 million investment in works for the South Australian vehicle assembly operation began in 2000 and in 2002 Holden set an all-time sales record for an Australian carmaker. The opening in 2003 of a $400 million Global V6 engine plant in Port Melbourne represented GM’s largest single investment in Australia in more than 20 years. In 2005, Holden Ltd integrated into a single business entity with Saab Automobile Australia and opened new corporate headquarters at 191 Salmon Street Port Melbourne. The company name changed to GM Holden Ltd and the Holden’s role in designing and engineering GM cars outside the Australian market was significantly expanded. Vehicle exports of 60,518 set an all-time record. In 2006, the launch of the VE Commodore and WM Statesman and Caprice represented an investment of $1.2 billion - part of a $6.1 billion commitment to General Motors’ Australian operations over the preceding 10 years. 2007 saw the establishment of GM Premium Brands, incorporating HUMMER and Saab, within GM Holden in Port Melbourne, with Cadillac will be joining them in 2008. Today, GM Holden continues to build on its position as the country’s largest automotive manufacturer and employer and the highest private sector spender on research and development. It is an internationally competitive exporter of vehicles, engines and automotive expertise. As a member of the world’s largest car company, General Motors, GM Holden holds global responsibilities for rear-wheel-drive engineering development and vehicle design for future programs outside Australia. Since 1948, GM Holden has notched up close to 8 million vehicle sales. In managing the country’s largest automotive export program, Holden has also sent more than 792,000 vehicles around the world in five decades and more than four million export engines in 26 years. Major GM Holden operating facilities are located at Fishermans Bend (technical centre, administration and engine manufacturing plants), Dandenong (spare parts operation) and Lang Lang (automotive proving ground) in Victoria; as well as Elizabeth (vehicle manufacturing plant) in South Australia.

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Monday 12th December 1949

67 years ago

Regular production of cars at the Saab factory in Trollhättan, Sweden began. The first car - a green Saab 92 - rolled off the production line a few weeks later. Powered by a transversely mounted, water-cooled 2 cylinder, two-stroke 764 cc, 25 hp thermosiphon engine based on a DKW design, giving the ‘92’ a top speed of 65 mph (104.6 km/h). The transmission had three gears, the first unsynchronised. In order to overcome the problems of oil starvation during overrun (engine braking) for the two-stroke engine, a freewheel device was fitted.

Saab 92

Saab 92

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Friday 16th December 1949

67 years ago

The first Saab automobile, the '92' was produced. The design was very aerodynamic for its time, with a drag coefficient (cx or cw)) of 0.30. The entire body was stamped out of one piece of sheet metal and then cut to accommodate doors and windows. Full-scale production started December 12, 1949, based on the prototype Ursaab. All of them were of the Deluxe version. A standard version was advertised, but nobody was interested in buying it so no standard versions were produced. The engine was a transversely mounted, water-cooled two-cylinder, two-stroke 764 cc, 25 hp (19 kW) thermosiphon engine based on a DKW design, giving a top speed of 105 kilometres per hour (65 mph). The transmission had three gears, the first unsynchronised. In order to overcome the problems of oil starvation during overrun (engine braking) for the two-stroke engine, a freewheel device was fitted. The suspension was by torsion bars. All early Saab 92s were painted in a dark green colour similar to British racing green. According to some sources,[who?] Saab had a surplus of green paint from wartime production of airplanes. Saab's rally history already started two weeks after the 92 was released, when Saab's head engineer Rolf Mellde entered the Swedish Rally and came second in his class. Only 700 1950 models were made. In 1951, the German VDO instruments were replaced by American Stewart-Warner components. In 1952 Greta Molander won the 'Coupe des Dames' of the Monte Carlo Rally in a 92, tuned to 35 hp (26 kW). In 1953, the 92B arrived with a much larger rear window and larger luggage space (with an opening lid). It was now available in grey, blue-grey, black and green. In 1954 the Saab 92 got the new Solex 32BI carburetor and a new ignition coil giving 28 hp (21 kW). The US headlights were replaced with Hella units. Another novelty was that a textile roof (semi-cab or cabrio coach) was offered as an option. The colour maroon was also introduced this year. In 1955, it acquired an electric fuel pump and square tail lights installed in the rear fenders. The colours were grey, maroon and a new color, moss green. The English aviation test pilot 'Bob' Moore, who had helped to develop the Saab Tunnan (J29) jet aircraft, brought a 1955 Saab 92B back to England, when he returned, later to become the first managing director of Saab GB Ltd. This was reputedly the first-ever Saab car imported to the UK. The Saab 93 was introduced in December 1955, but both the 92B and 93 were produced at the same time, for a while. The last 92 was assembled in late 1956–early 1957. Two new colours, grey-green and beige, were available. A total of 20,128 Saab 92s were made. The Saab 92 appears on a Swedish postage stamp. When General Motors in 2008 made a list of their top ten cars, the Saab 92 came in first followed by the Pontiac GTO (1964), the Chevrolet Corvette (1953), the EV1 (1996), the Opel Olympia (1936), the LaSalle (1927), the Chevrolet Bel Air (1955), the Cadillac V16 (1930), the Cadillac Model 30 (1910) and the Cadillac (1912) Spyker Cars, the Dutch maker of supercars, bought Saab in February 2010 from General Motors Co. In May 2010, Spyker's CEO Victor Muller stated the firm was planning a new small car, tear-drop shaped and inspired by the Saab 92 model.

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Monday 16th January 1950

67 years ago

Saab delivered its first cars, the Saab 92, to waiting customers. The engine was a transversly-mounted, water-cooled two-cylinder, two-stroke 764 cc, 25 hp (19 kW) thermosiphon engine based on a DKW design, giving a top speed of 105 km/h (65 mph). The transmission had three gears, the first unsynchronised. In order to overcome the problems of oil starvation during overrun (engine braking) for the two-stroke engine, a freewheel device was fitted. The suspension was by torsion bars. All early Saab 92s were painted in a dark green color similar to British racing green. According to some sources, Saab had a surplus of green paint from wartime production of airplanes.

Saab 92 - 1950

Saab 92 - 1950

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Saturday 6th March 1954

63 years ago

The 10,000th Saab car was completed.

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Thursday 18th August 1955

61 years ago

The Saab 93 was announced. Styled by Sixten Sason, it had a longitudinally-mounted 3 cylinder 748 cc two-stroke engine giving 33 hp (25 kW). The gearbox had three gears, the first unsynchronised. A freewheel device was fitted to overcome oil starvation on overrun (engine braking) for the two-stroke engine. The 93 was the first Saab to be exported from Sweden, with most exports going to the US. A Saxomat clutch and a cabrio coach (large cloth sunroof) were available as options.

Saab 93 (1957)

Saab 93 (1957)

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Thursday 1st December 1955

61 years ago

The Sixten Sason designed Saab 93 powered by a longitudinally mounted 3 cylinder 748cc two-stroke engine developing 33 hp, was formally unveiled. Coil springs replaced torsion bars and a 12-volt electrical system was fitted. The 93 featured a completely new gearbox with just three gears. A Fitchel & Sachs Saxomat clutch was offered for the first time on the 1957 Saab 93, enabling clutchless gear changing between second and third gears. The Saab 93 was the first Saab model to be officially exported, primarily to the United States.

Saab 93 (1957)

Saab 93 (1957)

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Wednesday 17th February 1960

57 years ago

The 841 cc, 38 hp Saab 96, with a 3 cylinder two-stroke engine was premiered at a Stockholm press conference. Produced until January 1980, it was the car for which the marque Saab became internationally known, not least because of its safety innovations and its motor sport successes. The ‘93’ was also the first Saab model officially imported to the UK.

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Saturday 17th February 1962

55 years ago

The Saab Sport, premiered at the Stockholm Motor Show. The engine was an 841 cc two-stroke three cylinder engine with one Solex carburetor per cylinder, giving 52 hp (39 kW). The engine was lubricated via a separate tank for two-stroke oil, allowing the use of ordinary petrol. The gearbox had four gears. In order to overcome the problems of overrun for the two-stroke engine, a freewheel device was fitted. The car also used disc brakes at the front, something that was unusual at the time and the wheels had four studs instead of the five used on the 96 and were of a stronger build, to withstand the extra workload.

1965 Saab Sport

1965 Saab Sport

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Thursday 24th January 1963

54 years ago

An 851-cc Saab 96, driven by Swedes Erik Carlsson and Gunar Haggböm, became the smallest car to win the Monte Carlo Rally. The exploits of Erik, aka ‘On the Roof’, Carlsson helped put Saab on the automotive map in the 1960s. He is a double winner of the Monte Carlo Rally in 1962 and 1963 and also took a hat-trick of RAC Rally victories in 1960-62. Now 82 years old, Erik was born in Trollhättan, Sweden, the home town of Saab, and was a works driver for the company throughout his career. Today, he is still employed as a roving ambassador for Saab. Erik Carlsson was married to Pat Moss (1934-2008), who was also a successful rally driver with several wins in the Monte Carlo Rally ladies class, She was the younger sister of racing driver Sir Stirling Moss. Erik’s ‘David and Goliath’ battles against larger, more powerful cars are now legendary in the annals of international rallying. With small two-stroke engines, 748 or 841 cc, the first Saabs lacked power for competition use and to overcome this disadvantage Erik developed a special driving technique. It was necessary to keep the engine revving at all times, so he used left foot braking while keeping his right food hard on the accelerator pedal. This allowed him to make the most of his car’s light weight and manoeuvrability while cornering.

Erik Carlsson at the Monte Carlo Rally 1963

Erik Carlsson at the Monte Carlo Rally 1963

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Thursday 2nd April 1964

53 years ago

Saab resolved to design a new and larger car. The "Gudmund" Project began. Named after the day the project started which happened to be Gudmund day in Sweden, the SAAB 99’s original design concept began to take shape. This concerted design effort was led by none other than SAAB’s chief designer Sixten Sason. This project took approximately two years to complete and was finally unveiled in Stockholm, Sweden on November 22nd, 1967.This was the first time the idea of the SAAB 99 surfaced to the public. “Project Gudmund” now resides at the Saab Museum in Trollhättan, Sweden.

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Sunday 2nd August 1964

52 years ago

The Saab V4, with a four-cylinder four-stroke engine, was introduced.

Saab V4

Saab V4

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Wednesday 19th October 1966

50 years ago

The London Motor Show opened with each end of the motoring spectrum exhibited. The best of British luxury car manufacturing was represented by the 6 cylinder Jaguar 420 (£1,930), 420G (£2,238) and their sister model the Daimler Sovereign (£2,121). The Jensen Interceptor (£3,743) was launched to replace the C-V8; the first Jensen to use steel, rather than fibreglass, panels, but again used a Chrysler 6.2-litre V8. Reliant stayed with fibreglass, however, with its revised Scimitar, a more affordable £1,516 despite a new Ford-sourced 3.0-litre V6. Cheaper yet was the Triumph GT6 (£985), a Spitfire-based coupe and the Vitesse's six-cylinder, 95bhp 2.0-litre engine. More practical family cars were also present, too. The Mk 2 Ford Cortina was set to emulate the runaway success of its predecessor and visitors were impressed by the German Taunus engined Ford Zephyr V4, costing just £949. This engine also made its debut in a quirky Swedish import - the Saab 96 V4, Saab's first four-stroke car (£801). With prices from just over £800, the Hillman Hunter, launched to replace the old Super Minx and a sister model to the latest Singer Vogue, promising 90mph and 30mpg, also on display. The twin-carburettor version of the 2000, the Rover 2000TC, previously only made for export, perhaps stole the show. This £1,415, 114bhp sports saloon was capable of 112mph and 0-60mph in 11.5 seconds.

Singer Vogue

Singer Vogue

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Wednesday 22nd November 1967

49 years ago

The Saab 99 was premiered in Stockholm, Sweden. The first engine used in the original 99 was a four-cylinder in-line engine which was tilted at 45 degrees. The 1709 cc Triumph-sourced engine produced 87 PS (64 kW; 86 hp) at 5500 rpm. The engine was water-cooled, but unlike most cars of the time it had an electric cooling fan. The bonnet (hood) was forward-hinged and the panel extended over the front wheel arches. The windscreen (windshield) was wrap-around and very deep for the era. The A-pillar had a steep angle, providing excellent driver visibility. Writing in 1968, the English test-driver Archie Vicar wrote in Mass Motorist magazine: "The little 99 has been given a striking and wholly rational appearance. It gives the flavour of an aeroplane on four wheels." 1984 was the final year for the 99. It was replaced by the SAAB 90 and the SAAB 900. A total of 588,643 were made.

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Friday 13th March 1970

47 years ago

The first production Triumph Stag rolled off the assembly line. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Triumph Stag was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL class models. All Stags were four-seater convertible coupés, but for structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar "roll bar" hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car started as a styling experiment cut and shaped from a 1963–64 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called "Micho", loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new T2000/T2500 saloon and estate model lines of the 1970s. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon's 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam (OHC) 2.5-litre fuel injected (PI) V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster's successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc (3.0 litres) to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph's engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag's V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine (the left half). It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick's different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway.[3] As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car was launched to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. The Stag rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes. First, the late changes to the engine gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective. For example, the water pump was set above the engine. If the engine became hot in traffic, coolant escaped from system via the expansion bottle and the overall fluid level then fell below the level of the pump. As well as preventing coolant from circulating, this also caused rapid failure of the pump. Even when the system was topped up again, the failed water pump would not circulate coolant and further overheating ensued. Water pump failures also occurred due to poorly hardened drive gears, which wore out prematurely and stopped the water pump. A second cause of engine trouble was the choice of materials. The block was made from iron and the heads from aluminium, a mixture that required the use of corrosion-inhibiting antifreeze all year round. This point was not widely appreciated either by owners or by the dealer network supporting them. Consequently the engines were affected by electrolytic corrosion, so that corroded alloy debris came loose and was distributed around inside the engine. A third cause of trouble was the engine's use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles (40,200 km), resulting in expensive damage. Even before failing, a stretched timing chain would skip links and cause valves to lift and fall in the wrong sequence, so that valves hit pistons and damaged both. Another problem with the cylinder heads was the arrangement of cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle. The angled studs when heated and cooled, expanded and contracted at a different rate to the alloy heads, causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. Anecdotally this arrangement was to reduce production costs as the cylinder head mounting studs and bolt were all accessible with the rocker covers fitted. This allowed the factory to completely assemble the cylinder head assembly before fitting to the engine. However this was not possible in the end due to the cam chain fitting and setting of the cam timing requiring the removal of the rocker covers. Finally, although pre-production engines cast by an outside foundry performed well, those fitted to production cars were made very poorly in house by a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. Poor manufacturing standards also gave rise to head warpage, and head gaskets that restricted coolant flow, which also led to overheating. This combination of design, manufacturing and maintenance flaws caused a large number of engine failures. Time magazine rated the Triumph Stag as one of the 50 worst cars ever made. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8. Another problem was that the Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car's whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. The last production Stag (BOL88V) is kept at the Heritage Motor Centre

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Monday 13th April 1970

47 years ago

The four-door Saab 99 and the Sonett III were premiered.

Saab 99 (1970)

Saab 99 (1970)

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Saturday 16th May 1970

47 years ago

Saab-Scania AB split into two companies, Saab AB and Scania AV.

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Friday 6th May 1977

40 years ago

A merger between Volvo and Saab was proposed, but failed to materialise.

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Sunday 28th August 1977

39 years ago

The merger of Volvo and Saab was called off.

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Thursday 31st October 1985

31 years ago

Some of the conspicuous exhibits at the 26th Tokyo Motor Show included the Porsche 959, BMW M3, Benz 190E 2.3-16, a concept car Citroen Eole, and Saab 900 Turbo 16 EV-1 equipped with 60 solar cells for starting the motor. The lineup of European superstar cars was really spectacular. GM displayed a Cadillac with the steering wheel on the right for the Japanese market, which kicked off its full-scale export strategy for Japan.

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Tuesday 7th October 1986

30 years ago

Three Saab 9000 Turbo 16s, in guaranteed standard condition, began a record breaking attempt at the world's fastest race-track, the Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega, U.S.A. 31 drivers took turns at the controls of the three cars, with stops only for refuelling and service. In nearly twenty days of uninterrupted driving they broke two world records and 21 international speed records. The fastest car covered 100,000 km at a mean speed of 132 mph, the other two average around 130 mph.

Saab 9000 Turbo 16

Saab 9000 Turbo 16

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Friday 15th December 1989

27 years ago

General Motors and SAAB agreed to form a 50-50 joint auto-making company, called Saab Automobile A.B. GM acquired the rest of SAAB a decade later.

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Friday 29th December 1989

27 years ago

Actor Christian Slater (20) was arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles, California. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, was three-times the legal limit in California. Slater's arrest came after a predawn car chase--he was driving 50 mph in a 35 mph zone -that ended when he crashed his Saab into a tree. He spent 10 days in jail.

Christian Slater

Christian Slater

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Wednesday 12th February 1992

25 years ago

General Motors of Canada Ltd announced a new marque, the Asuna, as a counterpart to Geo. It was one of two successors to the Passport marque, which had a similar intent. Preceding the Asüna marque, Passport sold a Korean (Daewoo) made badge engineered Opel Kadett E known as the Passport Optima (which hit Canadian shores in 1991) as well as a selection of Isuzu cars and SUVs. General Motors Canada changed its branding strategy in 1988, disbanding Passport (the Optima was rebadged as Pontiac LeMans). Isuzu was grouped together with Saab and GM's new, import-fighting Saturn division to form Saturn-Saab-Isuzu dealerships. The Geo marque was introduced in Canada in (model year) 1992, offered at Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac dealers (who had been selling the Geo marque's products as Chevrolets from 1988 until the marque's introduction). Sales of Geo vehicles were relatively successful, prompting Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealers to request GM Canada to provide a lineup of similar "import" vehicles. Asüna was created to fulfill this demand. The Pontiac LeMans model name was dropped altogether in favour of trimline designations, selling as Asüna SE in base trim hatchbacks and sedans, and as Asüna GT as a higher trim hatchback. The Asüna lineup was rounded out by the Sunfire and Sunrunner taking the GMC Tracker's place in the Pontiac-Buick-GMC lineup. Asüna sales could not match Geo's, and the Asüna marque was eliminated in 1994. The SE/GT and Sunfire were dropped from the GM Canada lineup and Sunrunner was rebadged as a Pontiac.

Asuna logo

Asuna logo

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Wednesday 21st July 1993

24 years ago

The new Saab 900 was launched in Trollhättan, Sweden. It included many breakthroughs includingAmong the Sensonic, an automatic clutch. The 'Sensonic' clutch variant, provided a manual gear lever as in a standard manual transmission car, but omitted the clutch pedal in favour of electronics which could control the clutch faster than an average driver. When a driver started to move the gear shift knob/gear selector lever, a computer-controlled actuator operated the clutch. With the car in gear but stationary, the clutch was released only when throttle was applied. If neither brake nor gas pedal was depressed, a warning tone sounded and a message flashed on the on-board display, and if no action was taken after 7 seconds, the engine was shut off. The second generation 900 was also the first Saab car with a 6 cylinder engine.

Saab 900 (2nd generation)

Saab 900 (2nd generation)

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Monday 9th June 1997

20 years ago

The new Saab 9-5 was presented in Trollhättan, Sweden.

Saab 9-5 (1997)

Saab 9-5 (1997)

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Tuesday 7th April 1998

19 years ago

Cozy Powell (50) of Rainbow, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath died after crashing his Saab 9000 on the M4 whilst driving in excess of 100 mph.

Cozy Powell

Cozy Powell

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Tuesday 9th September 2003

13 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show, opened it’s doors, with the simultaneous launch of the 5th generation of VW Golf and Opel Astra. Ford unveiled the first production models based on next year’s new Focus platform – the Mazda 3 and new Volvo S40 sedan. The 2003 Show was also a significant event for BMW, with the debut of the new 5-Series saloon and 6-Series coupe, while the X5 was updated for 2004 and joined by the smaller, all-new X3. Mercedes showed the production version of the SLR McLaren; Jaguar the X-Type Estate and Maserati returned to the luxury saloon fold with the premiere of the new Quattroporte. Leading the concept car debuts from Europe were the Citroen C-Airlounge, Renault Be-Bop, Peugeot 407 Elixir, SEAT Altea, and Saab 9-3 Sporthatch, together with surprises from Lancia with the Fulvia Coupe concept and Skoda with the Roomster. Japanese makers were also strongly featured with concepts such as the Toyota CS&S, Nissan Dunehawk, Mazda Kusabi, Mitsubishi ‘i’, and Suzuki S2.

VW Golf (5th generation)

VW Golf (5th generation)

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Tuesday 1st March 2005

12 years ago

The Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe was unveiled at the 75th Salon de L’Automobile in Geneva. It heralded new generations of Jaguar sports cars and sports saloons, as Jaguar Chairman and CEO, Joe Greenwell, explains: "The Advanced Lightweight Coupe represents the very essence of Jaguar, its heart and soul. If you want to know what lies ahead for us, what direction we will take - this is Jaguar’s answer." Created by Jaguar’s advanced design team under Design Director Ian Callum, this high-performance show car was indicative of more than just the company’s evolving design direction; the Advanced Lightweight Coupe was a rallying call for a company whose reputation was founded on beautiful, dynamic sports cars. Combining stunning design with advanced lightweight construction technologies, the Advanced Lightweight Coupe represented true sporting luxury in an exciting, high performance package. The Cadillac BLS show car, built at the loss-making Saab factory in Sweden previewed the brand’s dynamic new entry model for 2006, while the fastest car ever offered by Corvette and General Motors, the Corvette Z06, made its European debut. The fun and funky Citroen C1 city car and the Citroen C6 also made their world debut.

Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe

Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe

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Friday 20th February 2009

8 years ago

General Motors Corporation's Swedish-based subsidiary Saab went into bankruptcy protection so the unit could be spun off or sold by its struggling US parent.

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Tuesday 16th June 2009

8 years ago

GM and Sweden's Koenigsegg said they had struck a deal for Koenigsegg, a niche manufacturer of some of the world's fastest and most expensive sports cars, to buy loss-making Saab Automobile from General Motors.

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Friday 18th December 2009

7 years ago

General Motors Co. said it would shut down Saab after talks to sell the brand to a Dutch carmaker collapsed; marking the third time this year that a deal by GM to sell an unwanted brand had fallen through.

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Sunday 20th December 2009

7 years ago

Dutch sports carmaker Spyker said it had made a new bid for Sweden's Saab Automobile, two days after General Motors said it would close the loss-making unit.

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Monday 19th December 2011

5 years ago

Sweden’s Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy, giving up a desperate struggle to stay in business after previous owner General Motors Co. blocked takeover attempts by Chinese investors.

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Monday 3rd September 2012

4 years ago

A Hong Kong-owned company, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) completed the acquisition of bankrupt car maker Saab and implemented its business plan to make electric cars under the Swedish brand.

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