Saab R900 Group A

Saab has a very long motorsport tradition. The Saab 96, in factory and private use, is a legend on the rally slopes of the world. With the Saab 900 II, Saab Germany wanted to build on the old traditions in the 90s. Not a bad idea, is it?

SAAB R900 24 hour race Nuerburgring
SAAB R900 24 hour race Nürburgring

The company of Uli Weinmann, engine and tuning specialist from Upper Franconia, was commissioned to build a Group A racing vehicle based on the Saab 900 II.

Which is not quite right. Because the group A Saab is purely visually a Saab 900 II, technically it is already based on the Saab 9-3 I. Three vehicles were built, and the development and conversion work served at the same time the group A homologation for 900 II and 9-3 I at the FIA.

The result reads impressive. The R900 develops 285 hp at 5.800 rpm. The maximum torque of 470 Nm is at 4.400 rpm. 285 hp in the 1.100 kg light Saab! Even a 9-3 Aero of the first series with 205 hp drives confidently, even today. The 230 hp Viggen is still impressive. But 285 PS and 470 Nm, combined with a street legal, which the R900 got, finally turns the Saab into a jet.

The Saab engine was equipped with racing pistons, camshafts and camshaft drive changed or adapted, cylinder head and intake ports processed. The turbocharger was revised at Turbotab, the wastegate, it is from Cosworth, reinforced and replaced the engine management by a freely programmable by Weber Marelli.

Two oil coolers, a new intercooler, another exhaust system with racing catalytic converter and many, many individual measures on the chassis, brakes and steering rounded off the conversion. Only the transmission, from the Saab transmission plant in Gothenburg, remained on a series basis. It got a 40% ZF limited slip differential and a short final drive to a maximum of 210 km / h. That's it! The transmission coped with the requested 470 Nm without a problem, and the Opel technicians who followed the project were amazed. One reason for GM to place orders in Gothenburg.

SAAB 900R on the circuit in Hockenheim
SAAB R900 on the circuit in Hockenheim

It was then time for the 24 hour race on the Nürburgring 1995. Saab Germany proudly presented the 900R. From England came the premiere of the team of Abbot Racing, also with an 900 Turbo, and from Sweden came from Saab engineers existing private team with his Saab 9000 CS 2.3. The Saab crew for the 24 Hours consisted of 1983 DTM winner Volker Strycek, Konrad Lammers and privateer Friedel Jansen.

The Saab R900 did well. In training, the team had achieved a promising 23rd place with the racing Swede. That gave hope! During the night and in the rain, the strong Swedish turbo drove several fastest laps, and Volker Strycek set an impressive lap time of 9.22 minutes on the Nordschleife including the Grand Prix course. Strycek and the Saab must have got along well. Strycek, the professional, got a precise piece of sports equipment for use in the green hell. Uli Weinmann had done a great job.

It was due to the amateurs that it should only be enough for 74th place. An accident by private driver Friedel Jansen ruined all ambitions. A resulting chassis and transmission defect brought 2.5 hours of downtime and repair time and threw the Saab team far back.

Saab 900R in the Green Hell
Saab 900R in the Green Hell

After the race, the Saab R900 was presented to the public at the IAA. Saab is sporty by tradition, so the message to customers. The message was understood and consequently a civil version of the R900 hit the showrooms in 1996. That the R900 was more than a marketing story or a special model is proven by the fact that Saab R900 tires and rim tests were carried out in the Czech Republic to coordinate with Group A.

The story went on for the racing Saab. There were no more appearances on a grand scale, but 1996 and 1997 followed three race wins at the Divinol Rundstrecken Cup and 1998 Test and recruitment runs in Most / Czech Republic. The fact that the 900R Turbo also played a role in the development of the Saab 9-3 Viggen is more than just a side note. So came the next presentation and film 1999 at the official Saab 9-3 Viggen performance in Brno.

Then it was quiet about the Saab Rally. At Saab Germany, the desire to play sports had dwindled, there was a crunch between the partners, and the last appearances took place on a regional level. In 2001 the Saab had an accident, with side parts, underbody and the axle mount of the rear axle damaged. The end of a rally story and the end of the Saab R900. Or not?

One thing is certain, the Saab R900 disappeared from the scene. The Saab rally project, most recently below the limit of perception, has now finally been forgotten. There is still a sequel. We are jumping in time from 2001 to winter 2013.

Tomorrow it goes on.

8 thoughts on "Saab R900 Group A"

  • Hi Tom, Thanks for the great article, I'm curious how it goes. Would be glad if there was someone who would use the car again in motorsport. I am happy to provide you with information and my know-how.
    PS: Why did I kill your story with the offer to sell ????
    Greeting Uli

  • Oh sorry

  • Hello everyone, hello Tom!

    Does anyone have up-to-date contact information from Uli Weinmann?

    I have a phone number that is no longer up-to-date - please let me know at matthias minus ketterl ät gmx dot de

  • Oha. Wolfgang, with that you “killed” my sequel story 🙂

  • As the story continues tomorrow, I guess I can guess. I know one of the mechanics very well, who at the time was part of the project. Overall, a great story.

  • Great article. The names alone already have a familiar sound ... Cosworth, Weber, Magneti Marelli ...

    Just a hint: Volker Strycek won the DTM 1984. 1983 had not yet invented, because it was still called DRM

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