A monument to rally sport - Master of the Wheel Part 2

In 1991, Saab turned the sequel to Master of the wheel. It had been two years since the first film, but the story remained incomplete. Finishing them up was a good decision. Even in retrospect. Because the second part set a monument to the rally history of Saab.

Secret! The rally department pushes a Saab 99 EMS out of the hall!
Secret! The rally department pushes a Saab 99 EMS out of the hall!

The film starts where part 1 ended. Eric Carlsson was a thing of the past and withdrew from the action. New drivers such as Simo Lampinen, Per Eklund and Stig Blomqvist took the stage. They were worthy followers, even if their legend is entirely different.

The opponents are Lancia Stratos and Porsche 911

With the end of Eric Carlsson's active career, the two-stroke era came to an end. The V4 four-stroke engine moved into the Stallbacka and was made suitable for rallies. The motorsport department got everything they could from the engine, in the end it was even more than 140 hp. Notable, and yet Saab always drove against competitors who were considerably better motorized.

The little Saab 96 fought against the Porsche 911, Fiat 131, and Lancia Stratos, the top dogs of the scene. He often won, but not always. The end became more and more apparent. The V4 engine was completely exhausted, the time for a change. The Saab 99 took the stage and with it the sporty EMS version. The rally department gave him a cylinder head with 16 valves, for the first time in a Saab. With 220 hp, Saab was once again on a par with the big players in rallying.

Make history one last time

After the 16-valve engine comes the turbo, and the first results were promising. For the very last time you will write history. The 99 is the world's first rally car with a turbo engine to win a round of the Rally World Championships. Another milestone! But times changed and the era of the tuned series vehicles in the rally business inevitably drifted towards its end. In 1980 the time had come and the result was the end of all Saab motorsport activities. With the low budget, which was always a fraction of the big brands, the future commitment could no longer be financed.

Special rally cars like the Lancia Rally 037 now took to the stage, followed by the Quattros from Audi. But that's a completely different story.

An era came to an end for Saab. The rally division was dissolved in 1980 and the brand had benefited a lot from it over the decades. The first 16 valve engine was created there, and experiments with the turbo were made early on. What was good and durable in motorsport was later incorporated into the series. The story was actually told, but not entirely.

In 1986 three Saab 9000 flew over the Talladega Speedway in the USA. They set new records and brought a lot of attention to Saab. This triumph would not have been possible without the many years of motorsport experience of the rally veterans in the background. One final, conciliatory aftermath.

What is left in the end? The memory of a great brand, of heroes behind the wheel who drove from victory to victory in small, narrow cars without the aid of a computer. A time gone by that was no better, but somehow more honest. When the little ones still had the chance to score against the big ones and perfection was just the boring sister of tension.

3 thoughts on "A monument to rally sport - Master of the Wheel Part 2"

  • This video gives a great summary of Saab's participation in rally sport.
    Thanks for that.

  • ... 250 healthy HP in a Saab 99.

    To put it into perspective: The German motor press still cheered 240 hp in a very heavy Porsche with only 4 seats decades later (Panamera Diesel). The entry with petrol was not much higher at 300 hp, despite more cylinders and displacement.

    If I could choose one of the three to have fun for a day on the (closed) routes of my choice, what would I choose?

    Right, it would be a heavy Porsche on a long, paved, cleared, dry, three-lane straight.

    If you wanted to have fun with a 99 and 250 hp on gravel, snow and in the sandpit,
    when there are such exciting and extremely exciting alternatives? ? ?

  • It is really unbelievable what this small company was able to achieve! With the right people on board, Saab would have ......
    You know!

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