Saab Never Raced In IMSA But These Renders Envision A Parallel Universe Where It Did
Saab, the now-defunct Swedish automaker known for its quirky models and its original parent company, also known as Saab, that made fighter jets among other things was never big on racing. While the company took pride in the myriad of technical innovations that saw the light of day in Saab’s cars, the track was never Saab’s main development lab. That’s why this brutal-looking Saab 900 Turbo is the stuff of dreams as it takes us to an alternate reality where Saab not only had a proper presence in the U.S. in the ’80s but also decided to spend money developing a race car for the popular GTO/Trans-Am rules that brought together American sedans and coupes as well as Porsches, Ferraris, and Audis.
Take a Look Back at Per Eklund’s 850-Horsepower Saab 9-3 As it Makes Its Record-Setting Pikes Peak Run
Per Eklund is a Swedish rally driver that built an impressive and highly successful career from 1973 to 1997. He never made it to the top of his sport, but Eklund is still regarded as one of the finest rally racers of his era. One of his most impressive feats, however, took place after his active years in rally racing. It was in 2000 when Eklund drove his Saab 9-3 Viggen 4x4 at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Competing in the Pikes Peak Open Wheel category, Eklund set a record time of 11:21.58 that remained untouched for 12 years until Frenchman Romain Dumas eclipsed the Swede’s time by almost two minutes with a time of 9:46.181. The record has been broken numerous times since 2012, and the current record holder is Clint Vahsholtz, who shot up the leaderboard in 2017 when he drove his Ford Open to a time of 9:35.747. As impressive as these record times are, it’s hard not to be impressed with Eklund’s performance in 2000 when he was at the ripe old age of 54 years old. For his record to last as long as it did speaks to his abilities behind the wheel of a rally racer.
There’s no doubt that Saab as a company has been running on fumes for the past couple of years, teetering that bankruptcy line more than any other automaker has in recent time.
But if there’s one silver lining to the malaise the company is embroiled in, it’s that some of their cars are still being represented in the world of auto racing. One in particular is Flash Engineering, which recently unveiled their new Saab 9-3 TTA race car that’s set to compete in the Swedish Racing Elite League this year.
The 9-3-turned race car comes with a dynamic wide body kit to go with a vented hood, a new rear diffuser, and a larger rear spoiler, making it primed and ready for some hardcore racing action.
According to Jan Nilsson, Flash Engineering’s Managing Director, the motivation to enter the Swedish Racing Elite series with a Saab 9-3 was to finally see how it stacks up against its local rival, Volvo, out on the track. “I have longed for 40 years to see the fight between Saab and Volvo on the race tracks," he said. "It becomes reality this summer and my biggest dream is to get all Saab fans to the TTA races to cheer us on.”
While we think that it’s a race that will get turn some heads, we think it’s a little more of a big deal to see a Saab vehicle compete in a racing environment despite the company’s well-chronicled financial struggles. Here’s to hoping for a good showing from the guys over at Flash Motorsport.
Updated 03/23/2012: Flash Engineering has unveiled today a first video for their Saab 9-3 TTA Race Car featuring a first test session. The test was a first run, at the Alés track in France, where the front was not completed, the final car is going to look different.