Saab in the top 10 car innovations – 3 times!

Thanks to Ted for passing this one on….


Saab have punched well above their weight when it comes to automotive innovations. I need to update the list with XWD and a possibly a few other things, but a good list of Saab innovations has been on the site since early days.

This article originated from The Independant, though it’s now being reported in an online paper called The Star out of South Africa.

The article deals with what the author considers 10 of the most important innovations to come about in the automotive industry. True to form, Saab rates a mention in three of the 10 innovations. Not necessarily because they invented them, but more because they popularised (or repopularised) them.

The full list is reproduced below and where Saab has been mentioned, I’ve also reproduced the relevant text. If you’d like to read the full article then click at The Star link, above.


Top 10 car innovations:

1 The Airbag

2 The Safety Belt
Safety belts were invented in the 1800s by George Cayley, a prolific engineer and pioneer of aeronautical engineering. The belts were introduced first to aircraft by Adolphe Pegoud in 1913 – the first pilot to fly upside down. After the Saab GT 750 was introduced at the New York motor show in 1958 with safety belts fitted as standard, the practice became commonplace.

3 Immobiliser

4 Navigation Systems/GPS

5 Anti-lock brakes

6 Cruise Control

7 The Hybrid

8 Turbo charger
In 1905, the Swiss engineer Alfred Buchi applied for a patent for his internal combustion turbocharger. The system was initially applied to aircraft engines, and was first used in an automobile in 1952 by Fred Agabashian in the Indianapolis 500, giving him pole position and the race lead for 100 miles. Until the ’70s the turbocharger was used mainly for sports cars. In 1976, Saab developed a turbo engine with the reliability and durability required for everyday use.

9 The Convertible
The convertible was in fact the original model for automobiles by default, until in 1910, Cadillac invented the first closed-body car. The popularity of the convertible soared in the 1950s and 60s, then all but disappeared in the US due to the threat of new regulations concerning rollover safety requirements. Although production continued in other parts of the world – most notably in Europe – the resurgence of popularity in the US can be attributed to the production of cars such as the Chrysler LeBaron and Saab 900 in the 1980s.

10. Windscreen Wipers

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  1. “Until the ’70s the turbocharger was used mainly for sports cars.” What, the 900 turbo isn’t a sports car?? 🙂
    -MJL, who knows what you meant but wanted to be the first to say this

  2. Amazing how Saab invented Direct Injection but its other manufacturers that seem to be taking advantage of it most. Unless I have completely lost it and Saab has been using it all along, in which case I will shut my big mouth. 🙂

  3. Too bad Saab doesn’t get all the recognition for its inventions which the brand deserves. Just yesterday, while watching an episode of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson said that Mercedes-Benz was the first to have seatbelts as standard… Some sources, eg. Wikipedia claim that Volvo was the first manufacturer to provide seatbelts as standard in 1959. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what to believe, but I would like to believe that Saab was the pioneer 😉

  4. Eggs’

    Wasn’t FWD really Citroën in the Traction Avant model?
    (which btw is an intentional misnomer, as “traction” in itself implies “pull”, as by the front wheels,as opposed to the then more commonly used word “propulsion (arrière)”) 🙂


  5. Saab was not the pioneer of seatbelts.

    Some sources, eg. Wikipedia claim that Volvo was the first manufacturer to provide seatbelts as standard in 1959.

    Yes, but wikipedia is not always correct 😉 In 1958 The GT 750 is Saab’s first model to have factory fitted seat belts!

  6. As I recall, Cord had front wheel drive in early thirties (maybe late twenties, even ?).

    However, I would be glad to credit Citroen, if anyone, to have introduced fwd in mass production cars. They also pioneered in unibody construction.

  7. I think you guys are getting your “D.I.” acronyms messed-up. Saab has “Direct Ignition” (as in the “D.I. Cassette”), but the company still doesn’t feature “Direct Injection” in any of its models. Audi seems to be the leader in this technology in the segment.

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