1985 Saab EV-1 Concept news, pictures, and information
Saab EV-1, 1985By the mid-1980's, Saab had broken into the competitive realm of the upscale European car. In a market where Mercedes-Benz and BMW had ruled for many years, Saab proved that its cars had become a viable alternative for the young, up-and-coming professional.
Innovations in turbocharging made Saabs as quick as competitors with bigger displacement. A design that looked great in hatchback form managed to marry style and substance in a way rarely seen. Higher performance levels had been reached through cars like the 900 SPG. With all these achievements, it's easy to argue that Saab was at its very best back when Reagan was in the White House and Flock of Seagulls still seemed cool.
One of the few concept cars unveiled during Saab's time as an independent manufacturer was also a product of the mid-1980's. Called EV-1, for Experimental Vehicle 1, it was a drivable one-off built to Saab standards.
For all its radical looks, the EV-1 was actually based off the production 16-valve 900 Turbo. As the definitive Saab of the 1980's, the turbocharged 900 made an excellent platform to improve upon. The small, turbo four was retained. Mounted longitudinally beneath the long, low hood, the engine supplied the front wheels with an incredible 285hp in its EV-1 tune. All that power was capable of flinging the EV-1 to 100kph (62mph) in just 5.9 seconds.
Saab knew that a car with such performance potential had to be safe. Within the doors, the EV-1 used carbon fiber reinforcements to aid in side impacts. The vehicle's focus on light weight allowed it to more easily maneuver out of dangerous situations. The EV-1's speed was checked by the car's adherence to Saab's real-world safety ideology.
Designed with innovative features throughout, the EV-1's styling incorporated many thoughtful ideas. The car's greenhouse was enormous. The roots of the recent Saab Aero X concept car's jetfighter-esque glass area could be seen in the EV-1, as almost everything above the EV-1's beltline was glass. Slim, black A-pillars blended the windshield into the glass roof and into the huge side windows, of which only a portion could be opened.
Within the roof, solar panels were mounted. These panels stored enough energy to activate a cabin ventilation fan in order to keep the interior cool when the car was sitting in hot climates. Though no Saab production car ever featured such a ventilation system, Audi thought it was a good enough idea to use on its own cars. The flagship Audi A8 could be ordered with solar panels in its sunroof to power its interior fans a decade and a half after Saab's concept car was shown.
The body of the EV-1, designed by Björn Envall, was constructed of an impressive and lightweight Aramid-reinforced fiberglass material. The body panels were dent resistant, supposedly able to retain their shape after a minor collision. Like the solar roof, dent-resistant panels were never used on a production Saab but did manage to reach the market through another manufacturer, this time Saturn.
Many considered the design of the EV-1 to be awkward, but a perfectly-proportioned Saab wouldn't really have been a Saab at all in the 1980's. The EV-1 was styled to be as functional as a sports car could be, and that fact alone made the design endearing, if not necessarily pleasing, to any fans of the Saab brand.
When it was first shown at the Frankfurt, Germany International Motor Show in 1985, the EV-1 reinforced Saab's image as an individualistic company capable of building world-class machines bristling with new ideas. The EV-1 was one of Saab's final flourishes as an independent carmaker before GM took a 50% stake in the company just 5 years later.
Edsall, Larry. Concept Cars: From the 1930s to the Present. Vercelli, Italy: White Star S.r.l., 2003.
Emge, Ryan. 'Saab Experimental Vehicle (EV-1) - 1985.' Saab History 24 Jun 2007 28 Mar 2009 http://www.saabhistory.com/category/ev-1/.
'Saab EV-1 .' The Saab Museum 28 Mar 2009 http://www.saabmuseum.com/ev1/index.html.By Evan Acuña
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