The Italian hillsides will again reverberate to the distinctive crackle of a Saab two-stroke engine. Providing the soundtrack will be Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and Saab Automobile Chairman and Spyker Cars CEO Victor Muller, each drive a ’57 Saab 93 at this year’s historic Mille Miglia road race.
The two executives are celebrating the 93’s class win on this unique event 53 years ago in cars prepared by the Saab Car Museum in Sweden.
Jonsson and Muller will be following, at a leisurely pace, in the wheel tracks of the 1957 class winner crewed by Charlie Lohmander and co-driver Harald Kronegård.
Today’s annual classic recreation of the 1000-mile Brescia-Rome-Brescia route is held over three days on open roads and decided on punctuality between check-points. Jonsson and Muller will be co-driven by their sons.
Powered by a 45hp, 748cc, three-cylinder engine, but weighing only 1785 lb, the Saab 93’s agility and aerodynamics enabled it to embarrass more powerful cars. “Saab’s early success on this event is part of our rich heritage,” said Jan Åke Jonsson. “We’re looking forward to competing once again with the Saab 93, although we won’t be driving quite so fast.”
This year’s event, from May 6-8, is Victor Muller’s tenth Mille Miglia. “The 93 is unlike any other car I’ve entered, which is hardly surprising as it’s a Saab,” he said. “Jan Åke and I are looking forward to some friendly rivalry between team-mates. It certainly won’t be as intense as the competition between Eklund and Blomqvist when they were rallying Saabs in the late ’70s.” Saab’s 1957 Mille Miglia success was followed by Erik Carlsson’s overall victory on the Finnish 1000 Lakes Rally later the same year, both results bringing early international recognition for the Saab brand. Carlsson would go on to achieve back-to-back Monte Carlo wins and a hat-trick of RAC Rally victories in the early ’60s.
Between 1955-60, a total of 52731 Saab 93s were built at Trollhättan, where Saabs are still produced today. Its frontal styling introduced a new face for Saab, carried forward by the 96 sedan and 95 station wagon, which stayed in production until 1980.