Saab History

Coast-to-coast in Saab 99: 9,000 miles in 4 weeks

Saab 99 in San Francisco

Safer Motoring” independent british magazine was publication was a publication aimed at VW (Audi) car owners and enthusiasts, and the magazine’s editions often found articles about notable cars of other brands. The editor wasn’t afraid to feature other, rival, cars to the VW within Safer Motoring’s pages. Issue 1 was published for November and December, 1961. By the early 1980s, it had been re-named to “Safer Volkswagen Motoring“, while in 1985 it simply became “Volkswagen Motoring“.

May 1973’s copy features on its cover a Saab 99 adventure – Coast-to-coast in Saab 99, a report on a trip from one American coast to another, a 9,000-mile journey that lasted a whole month. Below, we give you a clip of how the editors of this magazine saw the Saab 99 and its potential on the road.

safer motoring
Our marathon trip began in New York City, after the 1973 Saab 99 LE Automatic had been delivered from the headquartersof Saab Scania of America at Orange, Connecticut. Soon we were driving on New York’s Antiquated motorways, and were being overtaken by giant trucks like at well over the 50 mph speed limit

9,000 miles in 4 weeks

written by John Rettie, 1973

We flew out of London’s Heathrow Airport by Jumbo jet, lended at New York’s Kennedy Airport seven and a half hours later, and set off in the Saab LE Automatic (fuel-injection) for our American coast-to-coast (and back) trip the following morning. We planned to drive from New York City, wuth near-freezing temperatures, to California, with almost certain sunshine, in eight days, stay two weeks in Los Angeles, and return in four days. But the Californian sun lured us into staying on for two extra days in Los Angeles, and we therefore had to return in a hurry to New York City, covering a good 3,000 miles in barely four days.

The Fuel-injection Saab 99 (2,521 miles on the clock) – easly the briskest and fastest Saab I have ever driven – was supplied by “Saab Scania of America”, the US Saab importers. My co-driver, technical writer David Vizard, and I covered just over 9,000 extra comfotable miles in the Saab (and sleep eight nights in the car, oftern hundreds of miles from the nearest hotel), the Saab consumed 454 gallons (US) of petrol (Regular grade, usually 34 cents per US gallon) at an average of nearly 20 mpg (US) or almost 25 mpg (lmp).

Saab 99 in San FranciscoUp and over – the Sepia Metallic fuel-injection Saab 99 easly clears the hump of a tipically steep San Francisco street, past a Beetle with two wheels parked on the sidewalk. Partly visible in the background, the former prison island Alcatraz

We kept to the official local speed limits, but wherever possible we cruised at 80+mph (129 km/h), and in Nevada  – where there in no speed limit – we cruised at an indicate 100 mph (at only half throttle) for about 450 miles at 5,000 ft above sea level!

Talk about fast ecnomical motoring – at that altitude a car’s maximum speed is much higher than at sea level, fuel consumtion much lower, but acceleration is comapratively feeble.

Oil consumption, incidentally, was negligible, and only maintenance carried out during the trip was the routine 6,000 mile service at a Saab dealership on the outward trip…

saab 99 in New YorkFrom the start we had to wear the seat belts…


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