The hard times continued. During most of 1982, car sales throughout the world continued their downward trend. By the end of the year auto sales had dropped seven percent below the already low 1981 figures.
But it wasn't that bad everywhere. In Sweden sales were on the rise. Total sales increased by 15 percent, from 188,500 units (the lowest result in 15 years) to almost 217,500. Saab kept pace with the action, and its sales of 30,855 meant a market share of 14.2 percent. Export sales rose even sharper. In USA, Saab sales climbed 25 percent to just over 18,000 units. World-wide Saab sales reached 86,500 during 1982, an increase of 17 percent.
Production statistics show that there were 16,459 99s, and 60,418 900s built of the 1982 models. Calendar year production reached 83,557, 25.8 percent more than in 1981. Trollhattan produced 48,217 units (3-, 4- and 5-door 900); Arlov 12,235 (4- and 5-door 900), and Nystad, 20,006 99s and 3,099 Saab 900s.
The export successes can be credited to the fact that the Saab name had now become well known and respected among the world's car buying public. Newspapers, magazines and many motoring organizations had helped by recognizing the cars' characteristics, and offered praise and commendations for many Saab innovations and technical solutions.
The German motoring organization AvD in 1982 gave Saab its prize for "the year's most important safety contribution", referring to one of that year's Saab features: The part of the mirror closest to the car body is almost flat and divided from the outer part, where the glass is convex and provides a wider view.
In 1981 the well known American automotive magazine Road & Track named the Saab Turbo its choice as one of the "world's 10 best cars for the 80s".
What really caught the auto world's attention when the 1982 Saabs were introduced - and led to yet another award a year later - was Saab's system for automatic and continuous adjustment of the turbo engine to the quality of the fuel. One advantage of this invention, APC for Automatic Performance Control, was that the Turbo owner could use different grades of fuel without damage to the engine, and could also drive further on each gallon of fuel. Fuel consumption was reduced by eight percent. APC allowed an increase in the compression ratio, and made the engine use each drop of fuel more effectively. The system monitors the engine's tendency to knock and automatically lowers turbo boost when knock occurs, and then raises the boost again as soon as the knock is gone.
Cars with this, the Second Generation turbo engine, got a small extra emblem in the rear with the inscription "APC System". Initially the system was only used on cars for Scandinavia because production of Turbo engines with APC couldn't keep up with demand for all markets. During the model year the system also came to USA and Canada, while most other markets had to wait until the next model year.
Incidentally, for 1982, the GLE, plus the 4- and 5-door Turbos came equipped with a central locking system for all doors and trunk.
99GL 1982: Grill like earlier EMS/ Turbo; new wheels; wide side moldings; more luxurious interior. Black trim.
The EMS version is called 900S three-door hatchback sedan in USA. P8 tires on new alloy wheels. Automatic transmission optional. Power steering and sunroof standard.
All Saab 99s since 1980 have come from Uusikaupunki in Finland. The line-up for 1982 included about a dozen different versions, all with single carburetor engine and manual transmission. Finland also manufactured a special version for kerosene use. Like mail carrier cars it was geared quite low. Normal variants for England and central Europe had four forward speeds, and 165 tires. For Scandinavia they came with low-friction tires, five speed transmission and "econometer" on the dash. A two-door model in base version was also made. Saab 900 with three-door body was specified in 35 different versions: 13 in the GL series, 6 as EMS/S and 16 Turbo. The three four-door models could be made in over 70 versions. About 30 belonged to the GL series; about 15 were GLE/S, and 25 Turbo. Five-door was only in the GL and Turbo series, 23 GL and 19 Turbo. On top of all this there were 12 special variants, for example lengthened "executive" cars, police cars and mail carrier cars. And there was the Friction Tester, taxicabs and ears converted for LPG power ... all of which were modified after production. The most popular body style was the four-door sedan.
900 Turbo four-door sedan, here in its British version and thus without APC.
Improved fuel economy was the motto of the auto industry. The major industries had for a few years tried to improve running costs with smaller and lighter vehicles. But that was not a route Saab could follow, even if fuel economy steadily did improve. A few percentage points here and a few there, thanks to lower weight, revised gear ratios, some fine detailing, modified fuel systems, new tires, etc. The list of 1982 news includes several examples of changes and new variants incorporated with just fuel economy in mind.
Most applied to the 99s. All versions came with the "H"-type engine - introduced the year before in the 900 - and could in Sweden be driven on 93 octane (RON) fuel. Most economical were a few Scandinavian models: 2- and 4-door 99 GL with five-speed transmission and low friction, low profile tires. The tires alone cut fuel consumption by about 5 percent. Swedish driving in mixed conditions gave 8.4 liters per 100 km, and on the highway it got even better. The engine ran relaxed since the gearing gave all of 39.6 km/h per 1,000 rpm.
Low friction tires (Pirelli P8 and similar) were also among the news on a number of 900 variants: on GLs and GLi for England, on practically all GLE and on all models, except three-door Turbo for USA and Canada.
Steel wheels of a new style and with less weight were mounted on all 99s, on 900 GL, EMS and most GLE types. 900S and Turbos for USA and Canada had new alloy wheels.
The four-speed transmission had been discontinued for the Turbo, and was only used on the 99 and on some 900 GL/GLs variants. All other had either five-speed or automatic. (The Turbo came with an automatic option for 1981). A number of dual carburetor cars (GLs) also had the five-speed. Figuring on differences for exhaust emissions, gearings, and extra equipment such as oil-cooler, power steering and air conditioning, the total power plant program included no less than 57 different versions.
Visible differences between 1981 and 1982, however, were not that many. The interiors had been changed somewhat, and upholstery came in new colors. New wider side moldings and a double frame in the center grill distinguished the 99. Black trim was used more widely, especially on 99 two-door. And most variants had new design wheels.
The color selection listed in the 1982 brochures was not as wide as for 1981, but for certain models two extra metallics were available for a while. One was light green, the other shiny golden, Moselle Green and Red Gold were the names. Of the regular colors there was one metallic and two non-metallic. The dark brown Dorado had been replaced with Maroon. Midnight Blue had left room for darker Admiral Blue, and six months old Ruby Red was replaced with Slate Blue.
When this is being written Saab is into its 34th year as an automaker. Building some 400 cars per day, Saab is nearly at a production pace that is close to what current factories can manage without relieving bottlenecks in different areas. Both Saab cars is so great that customers sometimes have to wait considerable time for delivery.