· Saab Automobile team commemorates 1957 Mille Miglia class win
· Driver line-up includes Saab Automobile’s Vice President of Vehicle Product Development and Spyker Cars’ Chairman of the Board
Trollhättan, Sweden. A trio of historic Saab 93s will take part in this year’s Mille Miglia, starting Thursday 12 May, revisiting the scene of one of Saab’s first successes in international motor sport.
Italian towns and hillsides reverberate once again to the distinctive crackle of a Saab two-stroke engine as the cars follow in the wheel tracks of Charlie Lohmander and Harald Kronegård, who won their class with a Saab 93 in the last 1957 Mille Miglia road race.
Driving the lead car will be Mats Fägerhag, Saab Automobile’s Vice President Vehicle Product Development, with Peter Bäckström, Manager of the Saab Car Museum, sitting alongside.
A second 93 will be driven by Hans Hugenholtz, Chairman of Saab Automobile owner Spyker Cars N.V., and his wife Laurence. Both are renowned classic racecar drivers, and Hans is a former Le Mans 24 Hours competitor.
The cars come from the museum in Trollhättan and have been prepared to the same specification as the 750cc class winner of 1957. “These cars are a treasured part of our collection, but I’ve always believed they should be used out on the road as much as possible,” said Peter Bäckström. “They were designed to be driven, after all, and will have a chance to show what they can do.”
A third car will be entered and driven by long-time Belgian Saab enthusiast Jacques Beherman, whose company has been importing Saab cars for the Belgian market since 1979. It has been prepared with technical support from the Saab Car Museum.
Today’s annual classic recreation of the 1,000-mile (1,600 km) Brescia-Rome-Brescia Mille Miglia - once described as the world’s greatest road race - is now held over three days on open roads and decided on punctuality between check-points. The event starts on Thursday evening, 12 May.
“Saab’s success on the Mille Miglia is part of the brand’s rich heritage and we’ll be immersing ourselves in the whole atmosphere of the period, experiencing what makes the Saab spirit so different,” said Mats Fägerhag, who is responsible for the development of the next generation of Saab cars.
He added: “This trip will take me back to Saab’s roots, driving a car on an event that helped put the brand on the automotive map. In our future products, we want to carry forward the spirit that inspired the Saab pioneers of the past.”
Lomander and Kronegård completed the Mille Miglia at a remarkable average speed of 96 km/h in a privately-entered car with factory support. It had finished the Acropolis Rally in Greece only a few days earlier.
Their success was followed by Erik ‘Mr Saab’ Carlsson’s overall victory on the Finnish 1000 Lakes Rally later that same year, both results bringing early international recognition for the Saab brand. Carlsson would go on to achieve back-to-back Monte Carlo Rally wins and a hat-trick of RAC Rally victories in the early 1960s.
Launched in 1955, the Saab 93 is a two-door sedan powered by a 748 cc, three cylinder, two-stroke engine with a three-speed gearbox and a column gearchange. Like all Saabs, it was an unconventional car for the time. The use of front-wheel drive was a novelty, as was the location of the radiator behind the engine, which had only seven moving parts giving excellent reliability. In standard specification, it produced 33 hp/28 kW (raised to 45/50 hp for competition use).
Between 1955 and 1960, 52,731 Saab 93s were built in Trollhättan.