The Saab 99 was first conceived in 1964 as a result of the 'Gudmund project', so named because the Saab board passed a resolution on 2nd April (Gudmund's day) to develop a larger car
The car was the last Saab developed by Sixten Saxon, who had already been exploring the idea of a larger car. The original prototype cars were based on 96 floor pans which had been widened by 20cm. Four of these cars were built and retain their name of "Toads" due their frog like appearance.
Despite the high opinion of the two stroke engine used in the 96 and previous models, Saab decided that a four stroke was required for the new car. However, the company didn"t have the funds and resources to develop its own engine. This was not a problem since Saab had already been in contact with Ricardo & Co., who were a British engine design firm.
The engine under discussion was a 1200cc unit to replace the two stroke units in the 95 and 96, however these plans were shelved (the two stroke engine was replaced by a Ford V4 in the end).
Saab then heard about Triumph's interest in engine development and in 1965 a contract was signed for Triumph to deliver a 1500cc and later a 1700cc engine.
The joint engine was to be inclined at 45 degrees because the main engine that was under development was a V8, so the engine delivered to Saab was essentially just half of that engine.
The new car was displayed to the public in 1968 and proved an immediate success. The car gained four doors in 1970. Saab added various features such as automatic transmission and headlight washers over the next year or so. EMS fuel injection was brought into the range in 1972 along with Saabs own 2000cc engine.
Saabs continuing affair began with the turbo in 1977 and became available on the 99 in 1978, the turbo EMS 99 quickly gained a reputation for speed and power, the car also saw some success in rallying.
More minor cosmetic changes were made to the car, until 1983 when the 99 was revamped to match the new 900's body shape. The car was gradually faded from the public view in favour of the 900 and was withdrawn two years after the redesign.
The 99 remains the last of the so called 'classic' Saabs, many enthusiasts will have nothing to do with any Saab after the 99. It also briefly appeared as the Saab 90, but only for a matter of months – these cars are now quite collectable in good condition. The 99 remains as the car that started the change for Saab into a major player in the car market, also as one of their best cars.