Saab 60th – Saab 99

Following are photos and comments by 1985 Gripen, who attended the Saab USA 60th Anniversary press event, which included not only a drive in the new 60th Anniversary Edition Saabs, but a drive of some pristine old school Saabs from GM’s own Heritage Collection.

Click photos to enlarge.

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Jan-Willem Vester’s “quintessential SAAB”, the 1970 SAAB 99. This car is riding on Dutch tires. Jan-Willem, who is Dutch, explained that the company that makes the tires specializes in tires for classic cars.

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A guest representing Gaywheels (didn’t catch his name but noticed the site name on his badge) getting into the 1970 99.

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Getting ready to drive off in the 99.

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In the background with the video camera is the one guy who seemed to be having as much fun as I was and smiled almost as much as I did. His name is Kyu Kwon. He’s an Automotive Journalist and Consultant. I believe he’s “freelance”. His website is blog.dreamwiz.com/beetle69 however it’s written in the Korean language. He later interviewed Bob Sinclair and Erik Carlsson on video.

He mentioned something about doing research because he’s making a car comic, but I didn’t understand what he was talking about. He knew his SAAB lore though. I asked him if he knew the story of the green paint on the 92 and he relayed me the story. Also later in the day when we were the only ones who hadn’t yet gone into the hangar to join everyone for lunch he asked if I would photograph him with his camera with each of the cars. It was good to see someone almost as enthusiastic as I was this day.

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The interior of the 1970 99. When I drove this car later I noticed that the air vent nozzles are like the ones you find on an airplane. You turn them to restrict air flow and you can directionalize the flow! The 1970 99 had the pre-energy adsorbing dash layout and instrumentation. Jan-Willem Vester drove in this car with me and pointed out how much he loves the instrumentation in this one, reminding him of a classic Hauer watch with its retro typeface.

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The interior of the 1970 99. Who designed those headrests? Had to have been an artist. This is the oldest car on display I noticed had seat belts.

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The SAAB 99 badging. And look, another reflection of me! Are those sand-colored suede Clarks Desert Boots you’re wearing? Why yes, yes they are…

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7 Comments

  1. That 1970 Saab 99 really causes the memories to come pouring back. My first new Saab (not my first Saab) was a 1969 99. It was a sea green color with a black interior, but it’s the shape and flowing contours that defined this car and made it so unique for its time, and make it so memorable. I still remember that first test drive, the quiet , smooth ride, yet with accurate precise steering, the wraparound windshield, stainless steel bumpers, see-through headrests, the deep dash, the airplane style air vents, the center-mounted ignition switch, roomy comfortable interior. I’m too deep into Saabs with all that I’ve got right now, but someday, I would like to add one of these to my collection.

  2. My first car and first saab was this model of the 99 mk1- with teh ‘coaming’ style dashboard- just like in an old biplane or early fighter – with a ridge around the edge into the sides.

    The headrests were a Sixten Sason design -known as ‘art deco’ style, they first appeared around 1968 on the other Saab models as well as the very first USA spec 99s. They were options rarely offered to the European market.

    The Us spec headlamps on this early bird do not look too bad after all these years. Hey , and thats a Saab 96 clock in the centre of the dash

  3. Thanks for the info, lance. I didn’t know any of that.

    Ted Y: you mention the center-mounted ignition. This reminded me that when I was driving this car with Mr. Vester he told me that he has a copy of the old brochure from when this car was new and he was looking through it. He was surprised that there was no mention whatsoever of the unorthodox position of the ignition switch! It’s as if it was so natural that SAAB completely forgot to mention it in the literature.

  4. Dare I say that I have a ’70 ‘steel bumper’ 99, and I can’t believe how advanced it was for the time. It seems light years ahead of the 95/96 models, which somehow managed to struggle through until 1980. The inline four cylinder drives much better and more smootly than the V’s, although I can’t for the life of me see why Saab persisted with the freewheel feature that seems so redundant. Interior design and comfort is great, and bodywork is very solid and pleasing to the eye. Unfortunately, I think rust claimed most of these early cars, which I believe only received electopriming after the introduction of the rubber bumper model in 1972.

  5. I still don’t know how you can have a ‘gay’ automotive publication. What does who you choose as a sexual partner have anything to do with cars? I just don’t get it.

  6. I’m not gay and I don’t claim to speak for the gay community, but as in any tight-night community they often have tastes in common.

    SAAB (and Subaru) are cars many gay people choose to drive. Maybe the average gay person has a more attuned eye for design and style than the average “straight”, I don’t know. I would also suspect they don’t feel a need to follow the mainstream regarding their purchasing choices.

    As you know, there is such a thing as a gay “lifestyle”. Is it a generalization to say people interested in country western music like to drive pickup trucks? :-0

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