Motoring Trailblazers - Saab 92

Sat 10th Aug 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Saab 92
Founded in 1937, Swedish engineering company Saab were in the business of making military aircraft, but the end of the Second World War left the business at a crossroads.

The company had produced 91 aviation projects and were experts in aerodynamics, so it made sense for Saab when they began project 92, or ‘Project Small Car’ as it it was simply known by designer Sixten Sason.

The 92 was tough, reliable and cheap and owing to Saab having a surplus of green military paint from their wartime exploits, all early 92s were painted dark green. As to be expected from a company which had previously built vehicles which cut through clouds, the 92 had an impressive drag coefficient of just 0.30, which is impressive even by today’s standards.

With a top speed of 65mph, the ‘Project Small Car’ was certainly capable of whipping around those boggy Swedish roads, but its inclusion in the Groundbreakers series is due to the importance that Saab placed on passenger safety. In many respects the 92 was the first ever production car to feature a safety cell, which came thanks to a very strong structural zone, the car was built in such a way that it was the framework of the vehicle which would absorb the impact of a crash, rather than the occupants.

Saab would go on to shift more than 20,000 units of the 92, before moving on to the 93,94,95 and 96, which ended in 1980. But the legacy of safety was born right at the start of the project, one which would mark out Swedish brands in particular as placing a heavy emphasis on the safety of the passengers.