|1971 Saab 99 © Martin Bergstrand|
2 April 1964 the Saab board started Project Gudmund to develop a new and larger Saab. Earlier, front wheel drive had only been used on smaller cars and the 99 was the first larger car with front wheel drive. Although Saab engineers liked the two stroke engine it was decided that a four stroke engine was necessary and the choice was a 1.5 liter (later 1.7 liter) engine from Triumph, actually the same engine used in Triumph Dolomite, but with a Zenith-Stromberg CD carburettor developed specially for Saab. 48 of the Saab 99s were equipped with a V8 from Triumph. The engine used in most 99s was a four in-line that was tilted at 45 degrees, basically a half V8. The engine produced 87 hp at 5500 rpm. The engine was watercooled, but unlike most cars of the time the fan was electric.
The car was wide and low and the suspension gave it handling that was very good for the time. The Cw value was 0.37 while other cars of the time had 0.4-0.5. The chassis was also designed for safetey.
A longer version of the SAAB 99 EMS combi-coupé was made by Valmet in Finland and called "Finlandia". It was only sold in Finland.
In 1970 the interior was given a facelift and became more luxurious. Also the exhaust system was now made in aluminum. In March the 99E Automatic was introduced. It had a 1.7 litre engine with electronically controlled fuel injection, giving 95 hp. A four door version was also introduced.
In 1971 the 99 got a larger and stronger engine, a 1854 cc engine giving 86 hp on the carburettor model and 95 hp for the injection model. The 1.7 litre engine was now only available with carburettor. Saab now also introduced the hadlights wipers. The dashboard was given a redesign with new instruments.
In 1972 the 1.7 litre engine was no longer available. The power of the engine was increased to 88 hp (carburettor) and 97 hp (injection). The major change this year were the new bumpers that could take impacts up to 8 km/h and still retain their shape. The suspension was changed to be stiffer and it got stronger dampers. Also an electrically heated driver's seat was introduced. In January the 99EMS (Electronic-Manual-Special) was introduced. It was a sportier model that was only available in a two door version. It had stiffer suspension and was sold in a copper coloured metallic paint. The engine was a 1985 cc engine giving 110 hp and a top speed of 170 km/h.
In 1973 a lowcost model called the 99L was introduced. It was a two door with an 1.85 litre engine giving 88 hp. All other models had the 2.0 litre engine. The LE model had electronic fuel injection giving 110 hp. The LE model was mainly made for export.
In 1975 the brakes were improved and the hand brake now worked directly on the brake disk instead of earlier on separate brake drums. The 99 was now available in two versions, one with carburettor with 100 hp and a fuel injected version using Bosch's CI-system giving 118 hp. In February a model using Zenith-Stromberg 150CDS(E) dual carburettors was introduced. It was only available for the combi coupé.
In 1976 nothing major was changed, but it got a self adjusting clutch. The engines was adaped for tougher emissions requirements and several models with electrically heated rear window were introduced.
In 1977 the headligights, and in the sedan also the rear lights, were changed.
In 1979 the 99 came in a four door version and the turbo also came in a metallic green two door sedan.
In 1981 the 99 was available in two engine options, the 99GL with 100 hp and and the 99GLi with 118 hp, both with a four speed manual gearbox. The GLi was a bit more luxurious and had electrical rear view mirrors.
In 1982 came the H engine, making it possible for all cars to run on 93 octane gasoline. The two and four door 99GL came with five speed gearbox and low profile tires. All models except the Turbo and EMS came with single carburettor, manual gearbox and the grille from EMS and Turbo.
In 1983 a number of smaller technical and cosmetic changes was made.