Back to the Future – SAAB EV- prototype


1985 SAAB EV-1_01


Not many people realize that, in the year it was acquired by General Motors, Saab also built an Saab EV-1 experimental prototype.

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Far from the suppository-like GM EV-1, the Saab take is the sort of radically awkward design that could only come from a bunch of engineers playing at stylists — you know, the sort of guys who built Saab in the first place. Unfortunately, nothing came of this concept despite its 168-mph (270 km/h) top speed and brief moment on the silver screen (in Back to the Future II, naturally).

Like the Saab Sonett range before it, the EV-1 had a simple mission: turn Saab mechanicals into a sports car. But as a leader in turbocharging, its mechanicals were far better than most—not to mention with the company’s (loose) aircraft ties gave them access and artistic license to exploit every aerodynamic trick.

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Saab designer Bjorn Envall, talking to Road & Track writer, Simanaitis, said, “A lot of intuitive thinking went into the design…the kind of thinking that can outsmart a computer.”


Is is a pretty shape, isn’t it? Certainly edgy but not entirely lacking in character. For its 80s cred: finned, unidirectional, three-hole disk wheels. Saab Night Panel. Solar panels in the roof. Cut-out side windows. Kevlar nose and tail, like a Formula 1 car.

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Performance was awesome. As Saab noted, even with its 16-valve 4-cylinder turbo motor lifted from the 900 Turbo production car, it was on par with a period Ferrari Testarossa: along with its top speed, it’d hit 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds.

Would it have been a success? Sadly, the EV-1 was such a complete-looking prototype that it’s unfortunate we never saw a production version.

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Saab EV1 in Back to Future movie



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Goran Aničić
the authorGoran Aničić
For over 10 years, Goran Aničić has been passionately focused on Saab automobiles and everything related to them. His initial encounter with Saab cars took place back in 2003 when the first Saab 9-3 and sedan version were introduced. At that moment, he was captivated by the car's Scandinavian design logic and top-notch engineering, and everything that followed stemmed from that first encounter. Later on, through his work at the editorial team of the Serbian automotive magazines "Autostart" and later "AutoBild," he had the opportunity to engage more closely with Saab vehicles. In 2008, he tested the latest Saab cars of that time, such as the Saab 9-3 TTiD Aero and Saab 9-3 Turbo X. In 2010, as the sole blogger from the region, he participated in the Saab 9-5ng presentation in Trollhättan, Sweden. Alongside journalists from around the world, he got a firsthand experience of the pinnacle of technological offerings from Saab at that time. Currently, Goran owns two Saabs: a 2008 Saab 9-3 Vector Sportcombi with a manual transmission, and a Saab 9-3 Aero Griffin Sport Sedan from the last generation, which rolled off the production line in Trollhättan in December 2011.

1 Comment

  • Note that the date on the Road & Track magazine cover is May 1985. General Motors did not acquire a stake in Saab until 1990.

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