Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Rattle
At the time of course.

I saw a 1980 W reg one the other day and noticed:-

3 Circular heating controls
Front and rear head rests
Rear middle LED brake light
Nice thick rimmed steering wheel and well padded in them middle
Alloy wheels

When you think the Brits were still making Cortinas and Marinas in 1980!

I am just amazed at how modern design is for a 32 year old design.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - stunorthants26
Faboulous cars in their day and it shows how much of a shell of their former selves the current Saabs have become compared to the proper cars they used to make.

A very nice car if you like quality through the core in your cars.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - a900ss
I take it you mean car most ahead of its time?

If so, I'd put forward the Citroen DS as a candidate
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Rattle
Ahead of its time but a car which then became convential. I am not sure if the DS was ahead of its time as many of the features never became mainstream.

The DS was quirky and still is, today the Saab 99 is just a car like the rest of them, but its a 32/33 year old design and that is why I think it was one of the most modern cars ever made but nobody probably realised it at the time.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Armstrong Sid
Been lurking and watching this forum for a while, but I'll dive in now, because I can speak with some authority on this subject.

I started driving in the mid 1970s and I owned two 99s (not at the same time) during the late 70s/early 80s. Just because I wanted to be different and not live in Cortina/Marina world.

Both my 99s were second hand, about 5 years old. The first one was great and I wished I hadn't got rid of it, so I eventually got another and that turned out to be the worst, most fault-prone car I've ever owned.

You're right about some of the unusual/advanced features. There are quite a few more.

Heated drivers seat (which in the mid 70s was a fantastic novelty and conversation piece). And very comfy seats ideal for long journeys.

And the ignition lock was not on the steering but down in the centre console on the gear lever. That would baffle anyone who tried to nick it because most people wouldn't even know where to look for the lock, let alone break it.

Fantastically smooth quiet drive.

The dash and instruments were fairly wrap-around when everyone else still had the cardboard-box-on-its-side look.

Massive rubber bumpers which you could climb on and jump up and down, leaving no visible marks.

Headlight wash/wipers which was another party piece like heated seats

Downside was....the heaviest steering I've ever encountered (no PAS in those days). Pushing a bus uphill would require less effort. Anyone trying to steer an old 99 today - being used to power steering - would probably drive off the road at the first corner. If they managed to stay in control they would develop massive arm muscles after a couple of miles.

First 99 was great, a world up from my previous car which was an HC Viva, but I got rid of it because I just wanted a change of scenery

My second 99 was a nightmare. Hydraulic clutch which was forever losing pressure; I became an expert at pulling away from a stop and driving considerable distances entirely in 2nd gear. The Triumph-based 1850cc engine was renown (sorry for the Triumph pun) for having head gasket problems and mine was no exception.

Put it down to experience, but I've never had - or even thought about having - another Saab since
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Mike H
.....and no-one has mentioned the rear wheel disc brakes.

I think it's like any car - you get gooduns and baduns. I've been driving Saabs since 1982, when I got my first 99 (EMS - two litre injection with sports suspension), and have found them totally reliable. Currently driving a tuned 9-5 Aero estate - a world apart from the 99!
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Harmattan
Not to mention brake lines running inside the car front to back and a smooth floor pan to glide over the snow. I have had one automatic 99 (slow but sure) and a couple of the old 900s and they were great at the time. I would probably have one now as a runaround car but the prices are edging towards a bit silly for the so-called classic 900s and 99s for those of us who used to pick them up for £200-300 with pristine bodywork. Never thought of them as a design classic, rather as bringing some expensive-car features to a middle-sector motor. The DS is a design classic.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Rattle
Its these forgoton cars which I think we should celebrate though. I saw a purely original 1978 S Fiesta 950 Popular the other day. A very simple car possibly didn't even have a brake servo. Nothing special at all about it but that is exactly what its special.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Stuartli
Around that time a Saab was the only car in which my other half felt really safe.

She was even in awe of the thickness of the doors, which was about three times that of mainstream cars.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Rattle
I would like to drive one but I think the steering would be scary. I find any none PAS car too heavy yet alone one with heavy steering to start with.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Manatee
I find any none PAS car too heavy yet alone one with heavy steering to start with.

Rattle, you need to have a go in my Series 3 Land Rover. If you find yourself near mid-Bucks do let me know! You could do a Rattle-Review.

I'm pretty sure our 1976 Saab 96 had heated seats. If I could find a decent one now I'd have it like a shot, dodgy Transit engine notwithstanding. Unstoppable in snow.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Harmattan
Most certainly did have heated seats. I had seven or eight 95s and 96s, some of them to keep the others going, and revisited a 96 being sold in a home garage sale a few years ago. As already suggested for the 99s it felt very heavy to drive after a few years of driving with PAS although it could have been badly set up. The 7-seat 95 was superb for the seat combinations available for carrying passengers and transporting packages. It was a German Ford Taunus engine, however, unless the Transit also used a 1500 cc motor at some time.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - enfield freddy
the origional ford transit V4 was 1700cc , and was a failure because the big ends were too thin ,

My uncle "freddy the safe" used to use them.

80% of all bank robbers used them
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - grumpyscot
My first '99 was a 1971 model - Triumph Dolomite engine but with a free wheel. Had metal bumpers then. Guy in a mini drove head on into the Saab when it was parked up. Mini engine was craked in two by my bumper. I had to straighten the (metal) number plate of the Saab!

But to have warmed air reare screen heating, head restraints, hazard warning light, foolproof ignition switch and doors that were thicker than an elephants feet was just great.

Had another 5 Saabs after that!
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - jase1
Of course the 99 is a design classic.

Far more so than the hideously overrated DS IMO. The Citroen was nothing more than Homer Simpson's car, albeit one where the engineers knew what they were doing. It's just a massive exercise in corporate willy-waving. My grandad had one when I was a child -- loads of toys but none of it really gelled, and I've always thought it was hideous as well.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - TheOilBurner
I dunno, some of the highlights of the DS:

all independent, self levelling suspension
power steering
swivelling headlights (on later cars), similar idea to the directional lights starting to appear today...
hydraulic gear selection (on some cars), similar to clutchless manuals of today
disc brakes
aluminium and plastic body panels to reduce weight and corrosion
door handles that unlocked and opened the door in one motion (routine today)

Looks fairly ahead of its time to me. Whether it gelled as a car or not, I have no idea!
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Dyane 6 Mehari
Plus the five speed gearbox, monocoque body and front wheel drive that it inherited from the pre-war Traction Avant.

In response to OP - if the high level brake light was LED it's not original - a 1980 LED might just have been visible from a foot away if it wasn't too sunny - the state of the art in LED technology then was pocket calculators. It's taken 30 years of development to get them to the point they're at today.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - J Bonington Jagworth
"I saw a purely original 1978 S Fiesta 950 Popular the other day"

You have to wonder (or at least, I do) why that one hasn't dissolved into a pile of rust like all its brethren. I see an HA Viva on the road from time to time, so it's presumably in regular use, but somehow it's avoided the worst ravages of the tinworm. There's a PhD in there somewhere!
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - TheOilBurner
You have to wonder (or at least I do) why that one hasn't dissolved into
a pile of rust like all its brethren.

Bought by someone who rarely used it (typically retired), then kept garaged whilst dry and clean?

Can't think how else it can happen really.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - OldSock
Compared to the DS (or even the CX), I'd say the 99 was a pretty flaky design....
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Another John H
The Saab electric bum warmer, headlamp washers, and disks all around seemed to be pretty much standard on Scandinavian cars back then, even my girder bumpered Volvo 240 of 1980 vintage had those, and being pre the "1980/1 update" of smaller bumpers, etc, had no PAS either.

Now the steering on that was an effort at low speeds, but at least there was no chance of scrubbing the font tyres :)

FWIW I though the Saab 95 (of 1959 vintage, or thereabouts) was 2 stroke 3 cylinder..

And, my money is on the Citroen traction avant, or DS, as being better contenders for the title than the Saab.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Mr.Tee43
I had a Saab 99 Turbo, one of the limited 2 doors models in black. For it's day it was a pokey car but as another has said, no power steering with fat tyres made for bulging biceps.

A scan from an old picture can be seen here if your interested.

Note the number plate that came with it !

Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Stuartli
Like many of the Mercedes that were around at the time and afterwards, your 99 Turbo was a very impressive looking car; in fact it wouldn't look out of place today.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - malteser
Ah - nostalgia - I once had a SAAB Monte Carlo. A real screamer of a two stroke, with a free-wheel and rock steady cornering. No wonder Eric Carlsson could win rallies in them.
Only downside - about 24 mpg on petroil - expensive, even then.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - gordonbennet
99's were very strong, i've seen a picture of one suspended by the A pillars when an errant car transporter stuffed the car into the steel crossmember of a railway bridge.

Before my time so don't blame me..;)

Always fancied a Saab turbo, just never got round to it whilst they were still individual, no interest now.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - ukbeefy
I always wonder what they were like to drive. When I was I think in late 1978 aged 8 I took a huge interest in my Dad's purchase of a car. Choices were:

Peugeot 504 GL or GLD - sensible choice - again no PAS but comfy, airy....diesel remarkably economical but also could hear from 400 yards away...
Mitsubishi Colt (my dad liked it as it was very good value (about 20% cheaper than the others)
Volvo 244 (seen as too big for the garage and worries about fuel consumption....and no PAS if I remember but a good turning circle - amazing what my dad valued...)
Saab 99 Combi - My dad worried it was too fast! Also it was quite claustrophobic in the back -well for a 8 year old - front seats were like large tombstones with integrated full height headrests...from the back seat you hardly saw much forwards unless you were in the middle. Plus I remember alot of deep brown or forest green interior colours...made us car sick inside...
Vauxhall Carlton (very new then) - put off by worries over reliability as had had a Friday Vauxhall Viva that had oil leaks and some incurable problem
Lancia Beta (which my Dad did go and see but was put off by the fact that the garage had to push start the demonstrator...)

It came down to a straight choice between Saab 99 and Peugeot 504 GLD and the Peugeot won...Always wonder what life growing up with a 99 would have been like...certainly a bit more rapid progress than a late 70s diesel with only 70bhp and a 4 speed low geared gearbox...

Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - rtj70
I remember my uncles Pug. Probably a 504? It was a seven seater. Okay not as safe as they are now with airbags and belts etc... but neither was the car itself or the front seats ;-)

Also remember my father's last car... no idea what it was to be honest. I was 9. But it was all black with "leather" (probably plastic) seats. Front of car was a bench with a column shift. Would actually love to work out what it was... this was 1979.
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - Mr Fox
I used to run a Saab 99 - NAG 127 V - when I was a Poor student in the 1990's it was already 14 years old when I bought it for £300, minus £100 I got for a clapped out 1980 VW Jetta, fitted with a 1977 1100 cc engine out of a VW Derby, that by this time only ran on 3 cylinders . .

The Saab was relatively solid, except the mounts for the rear shockers were rusted away and these had to be replaced, made cornering interesting when coming off the M62 onto the M18.

The speedo never worked, I never had any idea how fast I was going, once I was driving from Hull to Sheffield, and My father was doing the same trip, I passed him, in a 1.6 Sierra, his car wouldnt go above 90, at which point, I "disappeared into the distance like a missile"

The brake servo had some issues, occasionally the pedal would just drop to the floor, and you'd have to pump it 3 or 4 times before you could brake, this caught out my brother once and he went straight across a roundabout destroying a flowerbed.

Also the horn would sound of its own accord whenever you went round a corner, and the floor mounted ignition lock could be turned with a screwdriver or any similar implement.

Finally, at my father's insistence after borrowing it one time it was put up for sale and I believe somebody from Rotherham bought it for £180, to use for Banger racing, and I'm sure it would have gone down fighting
Saab 99 - The most modern car ever made? - NARU
My vote for "the most modern car ever made" also goes to the Citroen Traction Avant.

The most successful early front wheel drive - used on most cars today
Monocoque (unitized body) - used on most cars today
Independent front suspension - used on all cars today
Capable of 60mph

Unfortunately the development costs were so high, Citroen went bankrupt and had to be rescued by Michelin. All this in 1933/4!

I still aim to buy one before I retire.

Edited by Marlot on 20/08/2009 at 08:49