Here’s a very interesting review of a Saab 99 car that was once made by the famous Popular Mechanics magazine, more specifically an article published back in August 1972. Here are the impressions of the author Michael Lamm then.
PEOPLE WHO BUY SAABS don’t do it on impulse. It’s a car chock full of safety and engineering features that owners tell us they’ve evaluated carefully before deciding to buy. More and more have been making the decision since the 99 was introduced here in 1969.
Even then the 99 had many advanced features, but it’s much more car today. It’s called the 99E, the E for the Swedish word for fuel injection. Displacement of the overhead-cam Four engine is up to 1.85 liters. The 5-mph bumpers and heated driver’s seat are ’72 additions to the impressive basics of the car: front-wheel drive, rollcage unit body, dual-diagonal braking system with four-wheel power discs, radial tires, rack-and-pinion steering and real aerodynamic design.
Sensible design, in fact, kept popping up all over our owner survey. A surprising 32.2 percent chose this car for its front drive, and another 20.2 percent listed safety as their prime reason for buying. No other owner group we’ve questioned has ever ranked safety nearly this high. To let some of the owners tell how they felt about It:
“Front-wheel drive gets me around in all types of weather, safely, because there’s no skidding and no loss of traction.”
“Triple-safe diagonal disc braklng system is the best, and FWD gives Saab superior handling.”
“Very good stability in crosswinds with fwd and weight up front.”
“I bought the car because I feel it is the safest and one of the best all-around small touring sedans made.”
“We feel very safe in it.”
“Sturdy roll-cage body, fwd for handling, four disc brakes for stopping, good size for maneuvering and parking, plus a lot of no-cost conveniences like the fold-down rear seat, reclining front seats, heated driver’s seat, fuel injection for better mileage: in short, what more could a person ask for?”
What more do owners like about their Saabs?
“Excellent vision, hugs the road and curves with a noticeable difference (fwd), and the defrosting system is excellent since it defogs the side windows. too,”
“I have gotten 25.1 mpg twice on 70-80-mph highway trips.”
“It is solidiy put together. Compared with other new cars I’ve bought, it’s tremendous,”
“Smoothness of fuel injection over carbureted engine I pick up customers at the airport 40 miles away, and they usually ask me if it’s a Six.”
What do Saab owners think of their cars’ workmanship?
“As good as my Volvo and better than any American car I’ve owned,” Our questionnaire showed that 88.0 percent of the owners rated the Saab’s workmanship as good to excellent, with 36.4 percent giving it a straight excellent. That’s well above the norm.
We also put in a question that asked whether Saab owners have ever been in accidents with their cars. Some 85 percent hadn’t, but the rest told some pretty hairraising tales:
“I was driving 80 mph,” recounts a Massachusetts retiree, “and fll asleep for a moment.. and when I woke up I was on the tail of a car doing 45 mph. I pulled hard left, rolled over 10 times, skidded, but got out of the car without a scratch, thanks to the shoulder harness. Now there’s no other car I’ll ride in.”
A Pennsylvania vice-president recalls, “Saab talks about its roll-cage construction. In Nov. 1971. on Interstate 81, I had to swerve my Saab to avoid a skidding car. My car spun sideways and backward 100 yards, snapping off a heavy steel snow guard on the highway. Two wheels were bent into an S shape. Impact was just behind the front door. Damage to car: $970. Penetration into passenger compartment: none. Injuries: none.”
Owners who had minor accidents indicated that the bumpers performed well. Exception was about one-fifth of these respondents who collided with objects or cars with bumpers not at the same height as the Saab’s! Result was a run on new front grilles for the car. (PM’s test car, in fact, received this treatment while it was parked ot the curb in New York City the victim of a sloppy hit-and-run parker who bashed the grille!)
What change would Saab drivers Iike to see?
“Larger engine if it doesn’t affect fuel economy,” “Power assist on steering. ”
On this score, two owner mentioned receiving quesstionnairee from the factory asking whether the Saab’s steering effort is too high. This same factory questionnaire asked if owners would Appreciate higher horsepower. Both owners concluded that Saab must be considering improvements In both areas. Indeed, a two-liter “EMS” version is for sale in Sweden and will surely be exported to the United States, and a power-steering unit ls in the research and development stage now.
How about general comfort?
Says a New Hampshire technical writer: “I find the Saab very comfortable, as do my passengers; also the ride is surprisingly smooth, even with Koni shocks and 30 psi in the radials.”
And a Colorado conctractor: “Comfort is one or the Saab’s outstanding features, both front and rear,” And, “Never any crowding or squeezing. There’s even room in back for three.” On the other hand, “Seems they could make a $4000 car Quieter.” “Inertia reels on front lap/shoulder belts are comfortable and ensy-to-use,” says a retired New York driver.