The Anti Quattro from Sweden - Saab 9000 CS 4WD

It's been a number of years now. During one of my many visits to the Saab Museum in Trollhättan, the conversation with museum curator Peter Bäckström came to the Saab 9000 and all-wheel drive. A 9000 powered on all four wheels? I had never heard of it.

Even months later, the topic would not let me go; the story behind this model is exciting.

The story of the Saab 9000 CS 4WD goes something like this: In the 70s and 80s, the Saab Motorsport department experimented with all sorts of ideas to improve traction in sporting use. sigvard”Sigge” Johansson, or simply called Saab-Sigge, invented an electronic locking differential in 1980 to wrest even more traction from Saab rally vehicles.

Saab 9000 CS 4wd
Saab 9000 CS 4wd

Beginnings in the motorsport department

This certain Sigge Johansson is the scion of a Saab family. He belongs to the Saab Adel from Trollhättan, if you will. His father in law Tage Flodén was already working as a toolmaker in the Stallbacka. He helped get the Saab 92, the brand's first production car, onto the road.

His son Peter Johansson also worked for Saab in development. He was involved in getting the Turbo X, Saab's first true production four-wheel drive model, ready for production.

During the 80's and 90's the commitment to motorsport in Sweden decreased more and more, a brand from southern Germany started its triumphal procession with the Quattro concept. Saab saw a reason to also develop in this direction.

In 1987 at least one four-wheel drive prototype based on the 9000 CC was built, Saab experimented with a further development of the "Sigge Johansson" differential and a four-wheel drive system based on Torsen differentials. In 1990 there was another prototype, which was supplied by a third party.

In 1992 more vehicles were created, now based on the new Saab 9000 CS.

Saab 9000 CS 4WD

The Saab 9000 CS 4WD test vehicles, equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox and a new rear axle developed by Saab themselves, are said to have worked well. The traction is said to have been unique, especially on snow and ice. Nevertheless, the development was stopped.

Why? With the Calibra 4×4, the GM subsidiary Opel brought an all-wheel drive model that was designed more simply than what Saab (maybe) was ready on the shelves. The Calibra was seen as a sporty highlight in the GM group - and as an image bearer. Saab took a step back, they say. Supposedly voluntarily, as one admits. And it was a mistake, as they also say today.

The Saab 9000 CS 4WD, with permanent all-wheel drive and supercharged 280 hp - other sources speak of 285 hp - would have been more than just on par with the up-and-coming brand from Ingolstadt. In the meantime, there was already the V8 series with Quattro drive. The urge of a certain Mr Piëch, including a willingness to conflict, in the direction of Wolfsburg was unchecked. While in Trollhättan they shied away from a showdown with Detroit.

A Saab 9000 CS 4WD survived

The whereabouts of the first CC-based test vehicle, it may have been more than just one example, has not been clarified. However, a Saab 9000 CS 4WD from 1992 survived. With a little more than 109.000 kilometers, it is in the depot of the Saab Museum in Trollhättan. The condition of the first all-wheel drive Saab is miserable, and there is no money for the restoration. Taking pictures of the objects in the depot is not desired, the picture shown is from 2012.

At the Saab Festival 2015, 30 years of the Saab 9000 were a side topic, the four-wheel drive story and the 9000 4WD stayed in the magazine. Why? Did you hesitate because of the bad condition or were you not interested in an exciting story? Or is it that the all-wheel drive technology came from Opel, not from Saab itself or Haldex?

Regardless of this question, even an unrestored 4WD would have attracted more attention than the rest of the well-intentioned "Its my Saab" exhibition, which would have fitted well into a year without a festival.

Haldex has its roots at Saab

While Saab ignored a major opportunity in the 90s, the four-wheel drive story came to a forgiving conclusion for the Johansson family. Sigge Johansson left Saab in 1984, ventured into self-employment and had his inventions patented.

Born out of his ideas Haldex, a company with global reputation and certain Saab roots. Saab Sigge left this world in 2011. He could still see his son Peter Johansson, in his capacity as Saab developer, presented the Turbo X to the press as the first four-wheel drive Saab and the world's first car with a Haldex25 clutch in 4 at the Circuit Paul Ricard almost 2008 years late.

But that's another story altogether.

14 thoughts on "The Anti Quattro from Sweden - Saab 9000 CS 4WD"

  • blank

    A Popel Calibra as a premium vehicle on the throne? ? ?

    That's just too stupid! ! !

    In general, this kind of internal corporate competitiveness is just banana. The VW Group builds (and sells) station wagons that are very similar in size, target group and technology without any problems. Playing a Calibra against a 3 is no longer the proverbial comparison of apples and pears but of meat with vegetables ...

    SAAB truly became artificially small and broken.

    As always exciting and informative, this article. And as always (of course, it's about SAAB and the story is so sad) it's kind of annoying.

  • Always exciting, what had Saab in the quiver and still has not brought.

  • blank

    a four-wheel 9k that would have been, as I would probably the 9-7x not come into the house, but that would have been a pity too.

    What I still don't understand: Why didn't the GM people just let the Swedes do everything? ... or even instigated innovations? In the end, the Saabe would be high-quality innovative vehicles in small series and always ahead in terms of price and technology. The things that everyone then wants to have optimized for mass production and implemented in global brands. That would have raised the reputation of the other brands in the group and not damaged SAAB's. Since it was unfortunately done the other way around ...., well a shame !! A shop like GM should be able to afford a development department with an attached trial production.

  • blank

    can we do some fund-raising to have the Saab 9000 TurboX restored?

    • Perhaps 9-5 2.8t Fwd?

      • Not for the green one, but for the 4wd. We are working on it and want to be back later.

    • What would cost such a restoration for the 9000 four-wheel drive? Does anyone have a clue ? I think I would totally misjudge it. I had nothing to do with the rusty hobby so far.

      • We come back to the topic again, Mark and I are on it. At the moment: no idea what would be required.

  • blank

    So in the year 2002 the certain company from the small tranquil city not far from Gothenburg, 8 9-5 with just this all-wheel technology as so-called 9-5 Viggen has tested.
    These vehicles had borrowed from the Corvette, a V8 with 5.2 and 6.0 liter displacement
    Unfortunately, GM also said no to mass production here.
    Unfortunately, I do not know what happened to the vehicles, although Angang 2002 even had pictures of them at AMS.
    This would have the South German brands but properly graze the water.

  • Nevertheless happy that there is still Haldex today; the technology is still there. Great story Tom; Many thanks.

  • blank

    As is usually the case: The Swedes were (and are?) Too timid - at that time especially when they appeared to GM.

  • It would probably still be SAAB. The image would have changed permanently in the 90 years, see the 4-rings brand. The TX and the awesome XWD were just too late, 2008 had already sucked the drops.

  • that would have been it! It would be a hit, (if) then we would also have the 9-5 1 4wd… OMG 🙁

  • Too bad that he never went into series .. I would have been happy if he had been at the festival but unfortunately no

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