Saab History

Project Gudmund – The Birth of a Classic Saab 99

Saab 99 Prototype

On April 2, 1965, Gudmund’s day in Sweden, after several years of planning, the SAAB board started Project Gudmund. This was a project to develop a new and larger car to replace the Saab 96. This new car became the SAAB 99, designed by Sixten Sason and unveiled in Stockholm on November 22, 1967.

This concerted design effort was led by none other than SAAB’s chief designer Sixten Sason. Designed by Sixten Sason from 1961 to 1964 and assisted by Bjorn Envall, who, at age 19, was involved to refine some details as the front, rear lamp and grille designs, because of Sason’s ill health.

Here a testimonial by Bjorn Envall about the 99 design development: “We had trouble with that one. Sixten was up all night trying to get the back end right. I was just the new boy, the assistant. What he really wanted was an Alfa-style glassed-in rear boot — a sort of hatchback coupe. It’s funny how years later we got closer to his original idea for the rear end of the 99, and it gave us lots of aerodynamic problems, but we solved them in the end and the rear view grew on you.”

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Saab 99 Alfa style
Saab 99 Alfa style

 

Saab 99

The reason for this project was to preserve secrecy during development of the new model, the SAAB 99, which was the company’s first radically new body shape since the first cars made in 1947.

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Saab 99

The first prototypes of the 99 were built by cutting a Saab 96 lengthwise and widening it by 20 centimetres (7.9 in); this created the so-called Paddan (The toad), which was a disguise for the new project.

After that phase, also as a disguise, the first 99 body shell was badged “daihatsu” as that name could be made up out of the badging available for the Saab Sport.

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Saab 99 Wagon

In 1967, Sason passed away and Envall rose to chief designer and then developed in 1971 a project for a SW named Combi and in 1973 the iconic Combi Coupé.

Saab 99 COmbiCoupe

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Saab 99 Combi Coupe

Interesting: SAAB Daihatsu

Further development was carried out on the SAAB ‘Daihatsu’, a test car with the new body but badged ‘daihatsu’, to prevent its identification by journalists as a developmental SAAB. This vehicle is on display in the SAAB Museum in Trollhättan.

Project Gudmund with "daihatsu" label
Project Gudmund with “daihatsu” label
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.

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