Saabs from around the World

A Saab 9-5 Aero Sets a Record in the Cannonball!

The Legendary Cannonball Run and Saab 9-5 Aero

Surely we have all heard of the legendary race that was once driven by amateur drivers, and whose route was from one coast to the other in the United States. Even if you haven’t heard of it, then you’ve probably seen movies from the eighties, such as “Cannonball Run” and “Gumball Rally“, where an identical formula was followed. The organizer of this race was the professional journalist Brock Yates, and the competitors took action for the first time, in May 1971.

The last official “race” was run 8 years later, and over time, attempts to outdo other cars were replaced by racing over time. This means that the goal was no longer to reach the desired location before other cars, but to surpass the previously set time record.

A team of record holders - with a Saab 9-5 - a car that served them flawlessly
A team of record holders – with a Saab 9-5 – a car that served them flawlessly

In this “classic” Cannonball race, as things stand, we have new champions, and it is the team of Arne Toman, Doug Tabbutt, and spotter Dunadel Daryoush who covered a distance of 4,506 kilometers, from the cities of New York to Los Angeles in 25 hours and 39 minute (during the COVID-19 pandemic). The previous official record was held by a man named Fred Ashmore, and he crossed the same distance on his own in a rented Ford Mustang in 25 hours and 55 minutes.

Breaking the record in night conditions: Driving a Saab 9-5 at maximum speeds was easier due to less traffic jams, but also more dangerous for participants because the police could more easily spot them due to speeding
Breaking the record in night conditions: Driving a Saab 9-5 at maximum speeds was easier due to less traffic jams, but also more dangerous for participants because the police could more easily spot them due to speeding

And one more note, this is not the first time that Toman and Tabbutt have broken the record, and they did it earlier in November last year, when they found themselves behind the wheel of a Mercedes E63 AMG.

Saab 9-5 in the Cannonball!

But in these egoistic races, which are on the verge of legality, one Saab has found its place – a modified Saab 9-5 Aero that set one of the Cannonball records.

The team of Nik Krueger, Mark Spence and Wesley James modified the 2008 Saab 9-5 Aero and set a new record in coast-to-coast and back races – at an average speed we can hardly believe has been achieved.

Time set record: in exactly 65 and a half hours, this trio managed to cross twice from the coast to the coast of America with Saab 9-5
Time set record: in exactly 65 and a half hours, this trio managed to cross twice from the coast to the coast of America with Saab 9-5

The average speed of the car with all the stops was 86 mph or about 140km/h!

Completed in a 2008 Saab 9-5 Aero they pulled off a 65:28 going 5631 miles from New York City’s Red Ball Garage to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach near Los Angeles, and BACK! An impressive time for sure and in a Saab to boot! Just imagine, from New York to Los Angeles and back in just over 65 hours on the Saab 9-5 Aero.

Of course, this endeavor required special and long-term preparations, both from the actors and this Saab car, which worked almost constantly near the maximum.

Record team in action
Record team in action

When you take a closer look at the numbers, this team and Saab 9-5 achieved an amazing result: the average speed of the car with all the stops was 86 mph or about 140km/h! This record is practically on the trail, and in the spirit, of the famous Saab endurance test known as “The Long Run”. Of course, then the length of the road and the higher speed were achieved, but in controlled conditions, also on the race track. While this record was set in public traffic, without the support of a large team and mechanics.

It was important to remain inconspicuous: the Saab 9-5 stands out from the average car only a few more antennas.
It was important to remain inconspicuous: the Saab 9-5 stands out from the average car only a few more antennas.

To the joy and great satisfaction of all fans of Saab cars and speed, a few days ago Lee Kelso (SAAB Talk LIVE) managed to bring this record-breaking trio in front of the microphone, so thanks to this you can hear first hand how Saab set a new record:

This is an extremely interesting Saab story that will be talked about for a long time in the circles of speed lovers. Of course, driving at such speeds is certainly illegal, so the team had to break the record in great secrecy.

8 Comments

  • Love that you’re bringing attention to some amazing things done in a Saab! Noticed a few errors, if you’d like more info my husband (one of the runners) would be happy to talk to you.

    • Thanks! For those of us who love and drive Saab, this company still exists :)
      As for your husband’s success, we are very interested in the details, but we had very few sources of information, so it is possible that we made a mistake somewhere.
      We would be happy to publish experiences from the point of view of one of the participants in the endeavor if he would like to write a few words about it.

  • I thought this record of 25 hours 39 Minutes was set in an Audi A8 made to look like a Ford cop cruiser? Can someone fact check?

  • I thought the coast to coast(not back) was done in a V-8 Mustang, with a secret gas tank, and a driver who did bathroom “breaks” while driving…

    • Never heard of canonball run being a NY-LA-NY race.

      From what the title says I really expected that they have beaten the 25h 39min mark. I am sure other people expected that too.

      Congrats to the drivers though

  • The drivers are accessible. Reach out and ask the story. They’ll be happy to tell it with facts!

  • Never heard of canonball run being a NY-LA-NY race. From what the title says I really expected that they have beaten the 25h 39min mark. I am sure other people expected that too. Congrats to the drivers though

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