Saab History

SAAB Granturismo 750 – “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday”

1959 Saab GT7501959 Saab GT750

The SAAB Grand Turismo 750, a luxurious sports version o f the standard SAAB 96 and 93. At the New York Automobile Show of April 1958, Saab exhibited a car that they called the Gran Turismo 750 – a sporty and luxurious model that was pitched specifically at the growing US market. The GT750 had twin carburettors and the engine had been tuned to develop 50hp.

The Granturismo is a hotter version of the 93 and 96 series which the SAAB people modestly state “may readily be tuned up for competition purposes.” “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday” – It’s an age-old mantra in the auto industry, a tactic that has been used to sell cars since the earliest days of personal transport. Enthusiasts like to watch racing and maybe even race themselves, so seeing cars like theirs flung around this circuit or that fuels passion. Looking back over Saab’s sporting history, most would agree it probably peaked in the rallying days of the Saab 96 Sport. The 96 era ended in 1971… Saab Grand Turismo 750 belonged to that era.

SAAB GranTurismo 750. Photographed at the International SAAB Club Meeting 2006 by Staffan Vilcans
SAAB GranTurismo 750. Photographed at the International SAAB Club Meeting 2006 by Staffan Vilcans

Its principal differences are a specially tuned engine with an increased compression ratio and super accurate timing. In its primary form it doubles in brass as a smart family sport car with that little extra zip over the other members of its family, but no sacrifice of any of the customary SAAB safety and comfort. The front seats-which, incidentally, are equipped with safety belts-are adjustable to 14 positions, right down to providing sleeping accommodation for the passenger. The arm rests of the rear seats have roomy built-in pockets for thermos flasks and sandwiches.

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The passenger seat of the GT 750 is fitted with a head-rest for added comfort.
The passenger seat of the GT 750 is fitted with a head-rest for added
comfort.

New instrumentation included a Halda Speedpilot and a wooden steering wheel with three aluminium spokes. Standard equipment includes tachometer, extra large brakes, competition tires, racing type wood-rimmed steering wheel, and a fascinating device known as the Halda Speed Pilot which literally takes the worry out of rally driving and can be slated to fill the rumpus room with trophies. The 750 has a 4-speed gearbox, and a special type of clutch lining designed for rugged going. An appropriate touch which adds a note of distinction is the red painted 750 engine.

The Halda Speedpilot was an all-in-one mechanical rally computer introduced in the mid-1950s.
The Halda Speedpilot was an all-in-one mechanical rally computer introduced in the mid-1950s.

if you wanted to convert your 750 to a “Super” Granturismo, then you could get a special tuning kit at any SAAB dealer at taht time. But your car must be carefully run in before the engine is tuned. An optional engine tuning kit made it possible to convert the car to a GT750 Super with an engine output of 55hp.

The “Super” tuning kit contained the following:

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  • Carburetor, twin throated Solex 44 PII
  • Extra fuel pump with hose and pipe connections
  • Intake manifold
  • Modified front muffler
  • Exhaust pipe of larger diameter
  • Throttle sshaft extension
  • Air filter

Engine power could have increased by some 20% if the owner had integrated this tuning kit and these components. Before going to the start of a racing event, your SAAB should be thoroughly checked over.

As you can see, from all of the above, The GT750 Super was more sports car than family car.

Saab GranTurismo 850
Saab GranTurismo 850 – Overall, the 750/850 was produced from 1958-1968. The easiest (esterior) way to distinguish this model from the standard 96 is by the two chrome lists on each side.
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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