During 1983 Saab sales in the United States were 42 percent higher than the year before and totalled 25,833 cars. Sales records were set for every months of the year. And in Sweden there wasn't a 99 of the current year's model to be had. All had been sold out three months before the start of the next year's model. Total world sales came to 95,174 Saab cars.
The 1983 model cars have now been followed by cars with the letter 'E' as the 10th "digit" in the vehicle identification number code.
A decision has already been made to raise the rate to 105,000 units per year - and further extensions are in the works. The current increase isn't all that much, but it means that Saab will hit a higher production rate than ever before in its history, and must be viewed against the fact that the rate has already been raised many times since early 1982 - during a period when the auto industry generally has been pretty much in the doldrums.
But even if things seem to be looking up, and 1983 promises to give a better financial result for Saab-Scania's Car Division than ever before, one of course has to step somewhat carefully in expanding too far too fast. For example the service back-up in Sweden and elsewhere must be expanded to keep pace with increasing sales. In Sweden this need is very evident in the activities at the Aftermarket center in Arno, just outside Nykoping. This facility has already been expanded in several stages and is currently into another stage of expansion - to raise the storage space from 211,000 cubic meters to 308,000 cubic meters.
That Saab has become such a sought after car make in the tough international market place is, of course, as has been mentioned before, a result of the success of the turbo, but it also has its base in a full series of motor vehicles that has attained considerable status among discriminating car buyers. A determined effort to improve quality and reliability has also brought important results.
When Saab first brought out a series of turbocharged automobiles for everyday use, it meant a definite change in thinking on the subject of performance and turbocharging, and it didn't take long until others picked up the same idea. When Turbos had been on the market for three years Saab introduced the Second Generation Turbo - with APC - and was again one step ahead of the competition. Now many others are looking in that direction too.
At the Geneva Auto show in the spring of 1983, Saab caught the attention of the automotive expertise again, this time by presenting an APC Turbo engine with four valves per cylinder, two camshafts and combustion chambers with centrally placed spark plugs for complete and instantaneous combustion. With an intercooler to cool the intake air this power plant can produce 175 horsepower in normal driving, quite respectable figures for an engine displacing just under two liters.
Product development is of course not restricted to just the engine area. It covers everything that goes into the car, including many items that you cannot either see or feel. One piece of news that drew headlines in the auto press at the introduction of the 1983 models was that Saab as the world's first car make, and after more than five years of engineering work, had been able to introduce totally asbestos-free brakes. The absense of asbestos in the air, and in workshops, is one important product of this, but even more important is the fact that the new brake pads are expected to last up to 70 000-80 000 kilometers of normal driving - about three times longer than earlier ones. And on top of this, braking properties have been greatly improved, not least on wet and slippery surfaces. Because the front pads work progressively and the rear ones regressively, the front brakes perform proportionally more of the braking work at hard braking than at lighter brake pedal pressure.
If you simply want to determine if a certain Saab car is an '83 model or if it is older, just look at the bumpers. If the chromed inserts are wider, about as wide in the strips in the side moldings, it is an '83.
If the car is a 99 you can also see it on the grill, which got a new design in 1983, more in line with the 900 styling. If it also has a sunroof it is part of the economy series, with five-speed transmission, tachometer, low-friction, low profile tires and steel wheels with 5,5 inch rims. An extra luxurious version of both 2- and 4-door 99 came out in Finland in 1983, featuring tinted windows and GLE-class upholstery. Four-speed 99s in base design and 5-speed variants (with or without sunroof) in the middle equipment range were available in both Finland and other 99-markets. List of variants for 1983 includes about 30 technically different kinds, sold on five markets or marketing areas.
99s were upgraded after eight years with a new grill. Two-door models also gained by getting more black instead of shiny trim. Many cars had five-speed transmission, and none of them used the "old" wheels any more.
For those with a special sense for aesthetic balance it might be of interest to note that the rear wheels on all Saabs as of Model Year 1982 are more centered within the wheel housings. The wheel base was actually shortened by 8 mm, and the change allowed the mounting of wider rimmed wheels (5,5 inches), an '83-innovation on some 99s.
Among common new items for both 99 and 900 for 1983 were the spruced-up center console between the front seats, and that some details and functions around it had been improved (shifting mechanism, choke 'and emergency brake handle); that the fold-down mechanism for the rear seats had been simplified; that the GL upholstery got a new pattern; that a new interior color (mohair) had been added; and that the seat rails were changed so the seats could be moved further back. Cars for Scandinavia also carried rear end fog lights, a detail that earlier was only available in England and Central Europe (except Switzerland).
If you stick to the series and models within the 900 line, some of the news for 1983 can be listed as follows: low-friction, low profile tires on inch wheels on some GLs variants, and on all GLi and GLE types, as well as the EMS; electrical window lifts also on some three-door cars; windows tinted in bronze; central locking system on a considerable number of variations, including some three-doors; accessory console below the instrument panel on EMS, GLE and Turbo; position lights between center grill and headlights on cars for the US; tachometer in all cars with manual transmission; higher ratio primary gear in GLi, EMS and GLE with five-speed gearbox; higher final drive in Turbos with automatics; APC system for all Turbos; color matched front spoiler on EMS and on Turbos in black, silver or Slate Blue. (In USA, however, spoilers were only offered on three-door Turbos, as one didn't want to spoil the lines of the four-door.)
The EMS model, which during the past few years had strong competition from the GLi variants, basically equal in equipment in everything but the interior, was given a more individual profile in 1983. New equipment included a front spoiler (in silver), sports steering wheel, black window trim; black B-pillars (like Turbo models), special design alloy wheels; power steering and one special paint choice, silver.
The new accessory console was also part of the equipment. And sunroof remained as standard. The model was built in only one version during the year, and marketed only in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Its corresponding model in America is called 900S 3-door hatchback sedan and is quite different in many details.
Among turbocharged cars for 1983 are a couple of exclusive newcomers: 3-door combi coupe and four-door sedan with extra luxury appointments. Front seats have extra side supports; the rear seat is set up for high comfort for two passengers; upholstery in fine real leather or deep plush; electrically operated sunroof; two-tone metallic paint with Slate Blue and Silver (but there are also one-colored cars in the catalog); and alloy wheels of the design that was first introduced in USA a year earlier. Of course air conditioning is part of the standard equipment (except for Scandinavia and England), as are such items as central locking, power windows, electrically operated rear-view mirrors and accessory console. Power radio antenna is also standard on US variants.
EMS remained as a single type model in its own class, and was the only three-door 900 with 118 hp engine. For 1983 it rose a bit higher over the GL level, with the addition of a front spoiler (same type as Turbo) and with new style wheels. Bronze tinted windows, black trim against Silver metallic paint, sports steering wheel from the '80 models and interior in Blue Fox.
The long Turbo model - 200 mm longer than the regular cars, built in Finland, called CD and designed as a company or executive limousine - was introduced into the regular program for European markets for 1983. Equipment is the same as for four-door Turbo de Luxe with normal wheel base, but the five-speed transmission is replaced with an automatic, and air conditioning is standard everywhere except in Finland. The close spoked wheels carry Michelin TRX tires.
Coverings in front of the headlights are not allowed in USA. Position lights between the grill and the Deadlights filled out the hole.
Those who feel that a real luxury automobile deserves leather upholstery certainly cannot complain after a spin in Turbo De Luxe, here depicted in both interior and exterior in its 3-door configuration. Almost all conceivable comfort details are standard.
A popular choice was the two-tone paint job, with Slate Blue metallic on top and silver below the belt line.
900 CD has the turbocharged engine, but is not included in the Turbo range; it stands alone as a separate model with its own designation.
A few words about the colors:
It might seem a bit silly to devote space in a black-and-white book like this to something as hard to describe and actually technically unimportant as the colors of the cars. But listings of colors have always been part of descriptions of model changes, etc., because color is one of those items that help give each car its own character. It can also help the reader remember different years or certain models. If you know one or another color was used, it is that much easier to determine the year of a specific car. And if you are about to renovate an older, and maybe already repainted car it is of course important to know the original colors to be able to restore the cars to its original appearance.
During the 1970s restriction relative to the environmental hazards posed by color pigments and solvents caused many difficulties in creating high quality paints in desired nuances. This was especially true in the case of white, yellow, and red hues based on the now prohibited zinc or cadmium compositions. Cobalt too, which is a part of violet, blue and green pigments, is not that welcome from a health point of view. Colors that could be used often did not have the necessary covering ability or cost far too much. Light resistance, for example against ultraviolet rays, was often inadequate. These restrictions were reasons why the almost pure white color, Polar White, was replaced with a slightly rose-beige nuance for 1975, and that the almost classic Toreador Red at the same time had to give way for the thinner and browner Solar Red.
By the time the 1983 color choices were made, color chemistry had, however, advanced far enough so that it again was possible to use a real Red. Test cars and process evaluations led to the bright Cherry Red, which replaced Terracotta... and was extremely popular.
Another new red that appeared for 1983 is a metallic, with a tint of grey violet. It is called Amaranth Red. At the end of Model Year 1982 the creamy yellow Alabaster as well the grey toned beige Cameo were discontinued. Instead came Ivory and Golden Yellow, both warm and ochre toned, but still widely different.
The darker of the two, Golden Yellow, became one of the most popular 1983 colors on GL/GLs/GLi models, but was still not retained for 1984. Instead a soft blue, near the center of the light/dark scale, Azure Blue, took its place.
A bit higher up on the light scale was another newcomer for '84, soft silvery Platinum Blue, which replaced three year old Indigo Blue metallic, and was combined with interiors in Persian Blue - another 1984 newcomer.
Those interested in a 900 Turbo De Luxe with leather upholstery have two interior colors to pick from, light beige Sierra, and the new oxblood hue, Colorado Red. But since all interiors in all Saabs now are matched with specific exteriors colors, the choice really depends on what one wants on the outside.