No. 8 - The Saab 92
Svenska Aeroplan AB - or Saab to you and I – was a Swedish aircraft manufacturer that was first founded in 1937. After the Second World War however the worldwide market for aircraft, particularly military ones, was pretty moribund, and like many other companies Saab was forced to diversify. Car manufacturer was an obvious outlet for them, and the model 92 was their first product.
It had to be a tough and rugged car. Swedish winters could be hard, and collisions with the native moose were frequent. To protect the occupants an integral cage was designed; safety was hardly looked upon as a priority by most car manufacturers of the day, and this was pretty revolutionary. Saab was the first company to design a car primarily for safety.
As an aircraft manufacturer Saab knew a thing or two about aerodynamics; and the 'teardrop' shape of the body shell was not only modern and attractive to look at, but created an extremely low drag coefficient. It needed it too. The engine was a two cylinder, watercooled two stroke of 764 cc, producing only 25 horsepower; even with such an aerodynamically effective body the maximum speed was still only around 65 mph. Drive was through the front wheels, powered through a three speed transmission with a steering column mounted selector.
It was a tough car overall however. The handling was brilliant and this helped lead to many successes in rallies, where it often beat far more powerful machines. This was despite the fact that, owing to the design of the two stroke engine, lifting a foot off the accelerator stopped petrol from reaching the engine, but not oil; so it was always best to keep a right foot on the throttle, whilst operating the brake with the left foot! This could lead to some very exciting and spectacular manoeuvres.
In short it was a tough and reliable car, which many considered to be ideal for the harsh conditions it was expected to encounter on Swedish roads. How much air pollution was created by burning all that oil has not being recorded but the Swedish moose don't appear to have made any complaints.