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Saab Viggen: In the Shadow of a High Flyer
BY THOM CANNELL

I believe Viggen must translate into "Sweden's first interplanetary rocket ship" or perhaps it means "too much fun while appearing respectable." That's the short description.

The question is, how can a scrappy little company like Saab make aircraft, and automobiles that perform like aircraft? Is it corporate culture? Genius? Aqvavit and dark polar nights? I think it is a passion to create delightful, safe, fun automobiles that fulfill a spectrum of family needs.

I believe Viggen must translate into "Sweden's first interplanetary rocket ship" or perhaps it means "too much fun while appearing respectable." That's the short description.

The question is, how can a scrappy little company like Saab make aircraft, and automobiles that perform like aircraft? Is it corporate culture? Genius? Aqvavit and dark polar nights? I think it is a passion to create delightful, safe, fun automobiles that fulfill a spectrum of family needs.

Beneath its 9-3 bodywork, Viggen is more than external cosmetic changes. Every significant system has been hardened, upgraded, strengthened, or made more stylish. Viggen - which in Swedish means "Viper" - is the highest performance Saab ever delivered.

Surprise Package

Saab has produced performance automobiles cloaked in family transport packages for 30 years, 45 if you consider Sonett Super Sport (introduced at the New York Auto Show in 1956) a family car.

Beneath the aerodynamically enhanced body - low front spoiler for clean air flow over the body, rocker panel extensions to increase downforce, rear wing designed to reduce lift and balance front/rear at speed - lies a mechanical and interior package that is safer and stronger.

Working with Tom Wilkenshaw Racing (LeMans, World Sports Car, IMSA, F-1), Saab's Special Vehicle Operations group designed for comfortable distance driving, maximum grip, precise handling. Viggen's springs are 10 millimeters lower and stiffer (5 percent front, 25 percent rear) with dampers recalibrated for straight-ahead comfort and more precise turning. Anti-roll bars were evaluated; the rear 26 mm bar left unchanged and the front reduced 2 mm to 24 mm for better traction out of corners.

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