SAAB Motorsport

Saab at Bonneville

Dick Catron in the white coverallsRecorder Dick Catron in the white coveralls

In a 1996 edition of NINES magazine, Tim Winker wrote about Dick Catron‘s efforts at setting Land Speed Records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2-stroke Saabs. In 1963 he drove a 1962 Saab 96 with an engine built by Saab Motors in Connecticut, and set a record of 98.079 mph in the Touring Sports Category (F-TS).

Dick Catron of Denver set records in two-stroke Saabs in 1962 and again in 1964. Catron was owner of Saab Denver, a Saab dealership, and Rocky Mountain Saab Inc., Saab’s West Coast distributor during the 1960s.

From NINES magazine with the Bonneville story
From NINES magazine with the Bonneville story

In 1962, Catron took a new Saab 96 to the Bonneville National Speed Trials to take a shot at a record speed, then in the low 80 mph range and held by a VW Beetle. Catron’s 96 had an engine built by Saab Motors (the predecessor of today’s Saab Cars USA) under the direction of Bob Wehman.

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more aerodynamic Saab 93F
Catron wrote about the Gates Tires, “Oversize tires were ground down to simulate big inner tubes.”
Sponsors included Saab Motors, Rocky Mountain Saab, White & Bagley (Oilzum), Champion Spark Plugs and Koni Shocks.Saab 93

Starting with a Qualifying Speed of 101.99 mph (helped by a tailwind), Catron went on to establish a record in Class F Touring & Sports of 98.079 mph. Early in the day, the Saab established a record of around 93 mph, but Catron kept running the car, setting new records five times, up to the final record of 98.079.

940cc 2-stroke engine provided by Saab competition department in Trollhattan, under direction of Rolf Mellde.
940cc 2-stroke engine provided by Saab competition department in Trollhattan, under direction of Rolf Mellde.

Catron and the 96 went back to Bonneville in 1963, but the record was taken by an Alfa Romeo which set the speed at 104.406 in IIPRO (production class, 0.76 to 1.00 liters). So Catron went back again in ’64,
this time with a SAAB 93F, believed to be slightly more aerodynamic, equipped with a 940cc engine built by
Saab’s competition department under the direction of Rolf Melde. Running I-Production, Catron set a record of 105.453, with a qualifying speed of 107.39 mph. That engine is still in the Saab Car Museum in Trollhattan.

Saab 93f

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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.

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