Talladega 1986 Saab Turbo "The Long Run"

Från SAAB-veteranförening Trollhättan
Version från den 30 mars 2021 kl. 10.06 av Saabvetthn01 (diskussion | bidrag) (Skapade sidan med 'Purpose This report outlines the events surrounding the completion of` The Long Run´ and also includes relevant facts and figures that can be used as a reference for future u...')
(skillnad) ← Äldre version | Nuvarande version (skillnad) | Nyare version → (skillnad)
Hoppa till navigering Hoppa till sök

Purpose This report outlines the events surrounding the completion of` The Long Run´ and also includes relevant facts and figures that can be used as a reference for future use.

Background Upon the introduction of the turbo-charged engine in the Saab 99 with its increase in power it became quickly apparent that the car was ideally suited for high speed highway driving.

During this particular time Saab did not have close access to its own test track so the German Autobahn was used to perform high speed test schedules.

Valuable test data was attained from the Autobahn tests,often resulting in engine design changes being made to improve reliability. It didn’t take too long before a 60000 km high speed endurance test was performed without any major problems being noted.

Driving on the Autobahn had its restrictions which prompted a decision being taken at Saab to perform all high speed driving tests at the Nardo test facility in southern Italy.

The Nardo test track was built and owned initially by Fiat,however,after a period of time,the test track was sold and operated privately.This gave European car manufacturers the opportunity to use the test facility and perform for themselves high speed test schedules in safer and more favorable test conditions.

The Saab 9000 was tested at Nardo throughout the whole of its development process.

Initial idea At the Frankfurt Auto-Show in the Autumn of 1983 Mercedes Benz presented a 190 Model E , 2,3liter,16 valve engine which had been used to beat world speed records over distances of 25000 km ,2500 miles and 50,000 km at the Nardo test facility.

The English engine tuning company Cosworth had been assigned to develop the cylinder head so that a maximum engine power rating of 185hk was attained. The 4-cylinder in-line engine was equipped with two overhead camshafts,16 valves and fuel-injection.The car was said to achieve a maximum speed of ca.250 kmh.

This record breaking vehicle had been extensively modified i.e.the chassis was lowered 45 mm to account for a lower front spoiler and the the rear axle had undergone ratio changes.

Low rolling resistance Pirelli tires were also used having a rolling resistance of 13hp at 250 kmh –the rolling resistance of standard Pirelli tyres was noted as being 27hp at 250 kmh.

The vehicles drag coefficient (Cw) had also been measured at an impressively low 0,285.

I personally visited the car show in Frankfurt myself attending the launch of Saabs 16 valve Turbo engine. It was here that I first saw Mercedes record breaking vehicle.The vehicle had been taken directly from the test track facility at Nardo, unwashed and with the front of the car and winscreen areas covered with flies and insects.

I was most impressed by the achievements of Mercedes and it is here where I began to initially start thinking of how a turbo-charged Saab 9000 would perform in such a test ?

Saabs most recent high mileage endurance tests at Nardo in Italy with the Saab 9000 had been completed without any major problems being noted.

Upon my return to Saab I could not stop thinking about performing such a test. I initially contacted Bo Hellberg at Saabs competition department who had many contacts in the Swedish car sport Association and the FIA (the international car sport organization based in Paris) and explained for him my thoughts and ideas.

I considered it important that the whole idea of performing the tests remained a strict secret,at least until I had gathered more information of just what was required. I needed more details of what was involved before I could make a proposal to Saab´s management.

I didn’t want them to consider me as one for taking far too many risks!

Bo Hellberg found out that passenger cars were classified in four groups:-

    A. Special Automobiles.
    B. Series produced Touring cars (5000 units).
    C. Special vehicles (jet, rocket, etc).
    D. Ground effect Vehicles.

Mercedes broke their record in group A. for Special Automobiles ,their record breaking vehicle had been lowered and extensively modified.

In Class A.several records had been broken at considerably short distances,e.g.Audi had broken the world record at Nardo at a distance of 1000 km at a speed of 326 kmh.

The car in question was a heavily modified Audi 200 Turbo Quattro, with a turbo charged, 5 cylinder engine developing 650 hp.

At this point it was obvious that for Saab to perform a similar test in Class A would require enormous resources and would be very expensive.

On the other hand,a world record attempt with a car in Class B. could be a lot easier to achieve and at a lower cost?

In Class B. there was already an existing world record at 50,000 miles achieved in September 1983 with a Ford Comet.The car registered a world record at an average speed of 175 kmh at Daytona

It was this record we were sure we could beat.Here then was the opening we were looking for and where probably our best chance of success would be.

Upon a world record attempt being made the regulations state that Groups A and B shall be combined.

Considering this it would be easier(and with a better chance of success) to have a vehicle in Class A. which could be extensively tuned and modified. On the other hand,such vehicles are more prone to problems affecting reliability.This can clearly be seen by the lack of records performed at longer distances.

Our conclusion then was that a totally standard vehicle taken direct from production would be far more advantageous both in a marketing perspective and good for the company´s reputation for quality and reliability.

Proposal to attempt a world record With all the knowledge I had acquired I became more and more convinced that we had a good chance of breaking a world record.Indeed it would be very nice proving to the world what a good product SAAB was !

On the other hand should we fail it could be very embarassing for us all!

On the 1st of November 1984 I wrote a Saab internal pm outlining my proposal to perform the test. The pm was sent to SAAB´s chief of engineering Stig Göran Larsson ,technical director Henrik Gustafsson,director of sales Bengt Ödman and PR director Hans Thörnqvist.

Stig-Göran reacted quickly and indicated that he thought my proposal was very interesting but he felt we should wait until 5000 Saab 9000´s with the new 16 valve engine had been built.This was also the volume required for the vehicle to be classified as being series produced.

Time passed by without any direct response from upper management to my PM until one particular day in February 1985 when I was called up on the phone by Saabs managing director Sten Wennlo.

Sten informed me that he had read the pm that I had written.His immediate reaction to it was short and concise saying it was a good suggestion and that we should start work on it immediately.

At first I was not sure if I was hearing correctly which made me a little hesitant in replying …..

Then Sten started to get a little irritated saying sharply, `don’t you believe in what you have written?

I was forced to quickly change my tone somewhat and stated that the suggestion was indeed well founded and completely thought through.

His final words were then `OK lets go for it ´.

Pre test initiation Following the telephone call with Sten Wennlo,which basically gave us the green light to go ahead and make the test ,it didn’t take too long for Saabs special project team to evaluate the implications of performing such a test. Below are some of the general concerns ,questions and areas which needed immediate attention :-

    -Clarification of the legal regulations.
    -Creation of a Project team and organization.
    -Choice of test track.
    -Homologation of the Saab 9000.
    -Generate a detailed time plan.
    -Generate a preliminary budget.
    -Establish contact with possible sponsors.

Regulations Bo Hellberg spoke with his contacts at FIA and had received clarification in certain areas. One of them being the reasons why there had not been a high speed record broken with cars in category B.

On the 2 May 1986 a meeting was held together with a SAE conference in Chicago with Burdette Martin who was the chief at ACCUS (Automobile Competition Committee for the US).

The following staff from Saab were at the meeting: Bo Hellberg ,Steven Rossi, Per Gillbrandt and myself Olle Granlund.

The main topic of the meeting was to discuss the organization and planning of the test.

One of the most important decisions taken was that NASCAR ( National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing )would be responsible for controlling the test and would have their own time keepers and controllers following up activities in the pit area. Les Richter was given total responsibility at NASCAR along with Joe Elton the chief steward.

From Saab, Brage Sundström was responsible for contact with NASCAR.

Looking back I can safely say that we established a very good working relationship with the staff at ACCUS and NASCAR.

Homologation / Classification The FIA is the organizations that approves all speed records and require that vehicles used for the tests have been homologated in a similar manner as for all other competition vehicles.

The Saab 9000 with the new 16 valve engine was not initially homologated. Brage Sundström started work immediately on getting the vehicles certified.

On the 1st of July a certificate of compliance was received.

Historiska artiklar