Saab Sport – exclusive high-speed car with a responsive, well -mannered engine

Historical SAAB: An extract from Saab VIPS magazine No 1, 1962.
Digitalised and adapted for the website by Ray Beaufoy 2023-04-30

Prior to the international motor show in Stockholm, Saab presented the Saab 96 Sport for Saab dealers at the ´Folkan´ theatre in Stockholm. The event had a distinct American touch to it and included also prominent Swedish artists such as Karl-Gustav Lindstedt, Arne Källerud, Lily Berglund and a group of dancers from the Oscar Theatre ballet.

Attending the launch were Saab representatives from Finland, Norway, Denmark, England, and Switzerland as well as Marketing Director John W. Steinhauser from Chrysler International in Geneva. Overall, a total number of 170 participants attended the event.

In addition to the manual controls, the Saab Sports instrumentation includes a tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge, coolant thermometer, oil-pressure gauge, and control lamps. The interior shows lavish detail work, and the comfort is of a high class with wide reclining seats for long distance driving.

The new Saab Sport replaces the current Granturisimo model Saab GT 750 and has an 841 cm3 three-cylinder, two-stroke engine with an output of just over 52 hp DIN.

The engine utilises three downdraught Solex carburettors, a new type of spark-plug and has a separate lubrication system. Disc-brakes are now employed on the front wheels and conventional drum brakes at the rear, both supplied by Lockheed.

A four-speed gearbox is fitted as standard.

Exterior changes

The Saab Sport differs only slightly in design to the old GT 750, but in terms of features it is a completely new car according to the presentation given by Saabs chief engineer Rolf Mellde for ANA dealers on February 16 in Stockholm.

New engine features

As explained by Saabs chief engineer -The engine is completely new, the only thing consistent with the GT engine is that it is a two-stroke and still has three cylinders.

Several new features however have been developed – new spark plugs, three parallel-connected carburettors and fresh oil lubrication system – all necessary to ensure good driveability from slow city driving and higher road speeds.

The Saab Sport is not only for experienced drivers demanding performance, but it is also suitable for slower more normal driving.
During the initial design stages Saabs designers and engineers aimed at producing a powerful saloon car which was comfortable to drive in all conditions. This required lengthy development work to fully evaluate the Saabs engines performance and durability levels.
For example, a Saab Sport was started from cold and allowed to run at idle rpm for 7 hours, after which the car was required to be driven immediately on to the open road without any engine driveability problems arising e.g. due to the build-up of soot or the engine oiling-up.

New exterior colours

The new Saab colours are demonstrated in this original way for Saab dealerships at the Folkan theatre in Stockholm, the artists are from the Oscars Ballet.

Powerful disc-brakes on the front wheels

To account for the increase in performance and road speeds the Saab Sport is fitted with disc brakes on the front wheels and conventional drum brakes on the rear wheels. Both the disc and drum brake are manufactured by Lockheed in Leamington Spa in England.

New spark plugs

The new spark plug has been developed by Champion in collaboration with McCullough in the USA, manufacturer of Scott marine outboard motors. The plug is devoid of a conventional side electrode and works according to the so-called surface ignition principle. The spark jumps radially from a centrally positioned inner electrode to the annular base surface.

The discharge takes place under high voltage across a spark gap in the plug’s interior. This results in an extremely strong spark, which keeps the plug effectively clean, even though it is has a colder rating than similar racing type spark plugs.

Powerful engine with good lubrication

An engine with such high power requires constant good lubrication. When mixing oil in the fuel, a mixing percentage of 4 to 5% is required, which, in theoretical terms, is uneconomical. It is for this reason direct lubrication was introduced.

The lubrication system includes an oil pump which draws fresh engine oil from a separate oil-reservoir positioned in the engine bay. The reservoir holds ca.3-litres of oil and is pumped under pressure to 7 lubrication points. One for each cylinder and to each of the 4 main crankshaft bearings. Oil is then led further to the pistons connecting rod journals. Oil consumption is at the rate of one litre per 60 – 70 miles.

The oil reservoir includes an oil-level inspection window, and an oil pressure warning light is mounted on the car’s dashboard.
Three Solex downdraught carburettors are utilised and are connected in parallel. Each carburettor has its own individual air inlet channel.

The main advantage of this system is that good torque is achieved throughout the engines entire r.p.m register whilst also improving the cars low-speed characteristics compared to more conventional carburettor arrangements. The parallel connection also permits even fuel distribution and good fuel economy in relation to engine power.

To match the increase in engine power the Saab Sport has disc-brakes on the front wheels which are equally as effective as the rear drum brake arrangement. Thanks to the disc brakes design smooth effortless braking is possible at all road speeds.

New features not included on standard.

The new features in the Saab Sport model have been specifically included to complement a saloon car having an exclusive high-performance engine – The Saab Sport equipment level is not included on standard models.

The Saab Sport is primarily intended for export but will be available in limited numbers for the Swedish market during the month of May. The target price for the Swedish market has not yet been determined.

The cars exterior differs from the Saab 96 through double chrome strips along the car’s door sills, chrome plated wheel trims, double front auxiliary lights, double reversing lights and new emblems on the front wings and boot lid.