Monday, March 26, 2012

Saab "Monstret" - The Monster

Saab's been on my mind a lot lately.  Their Death was a deep cut to weirdos who dig weird cars.  Everyone knew that it was inevitable, we knew for years, but we became emotionally invested and hoped against the odds anyway.  The result of all our blogging, petitioning, begging, wishing and praying is nothing but enhanced heartache.

It's cliché, but I want a party for my funeral.  I want my family and close friends to get properly smashed and remember fondly, share embarassing anecdotes, reminisce on my triumphs as well as my failures.  A heady, emotional mix of laughter and tears. 

In that vein, my eulogy for Saab is a brief celebration of a car that simultaneously represents one of their highest and lowest moments.  The Monstret, or Monster, sums up the spirit of Saab in one incredibly odd, improvised, oil-burning, smoking, torque-steering, understeering, evil-handling and stupefyingly awesome car.

A 1959 experiment aimed at improving power for motorsport, it was built around a lightened and widened model 93.  The real madness comes in the form of a 1496cc, transverse, two stroke inline six - essentially two highly tuned production 93 engines joined at the crank.  Each half retained its own separate 3 cylinder block and distributor.

an original diagram of The Monster's heart
The result was 138HP and 122 MPH, quite a lot for any car in 1959, particularly a small European family model.  The trademark aerodynamic teardrop shape of the 93, normally a boon to economy and handling, gave the rear of the car a tendency to become airborne when approaching its much higher top speed.  This terrifying quirk, combined with both heavy understeer and torquesteer gave rise to the nickname "Monster".

It was as flawed as it was genius, as terrible as it was fantastic - it was a true Saab.

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