Italian hillsides are about to reverberate again to the distinctive crackle of a two-stroke engine. Providing the soundtrack will be a pair of 1957-vintage Saab 93s competing in this year's Mille Miglia road race and driven by Saab Automobile CEO, Jan Åke Jonsson and Saab Automobile chairman and Spyker Cars CEO, Victor Muller.
They are celebrating the 93's class win on this unique event 53 years ago with cars prepared by the Saab Car Museum in Sweden. Jonsson and Muller will be following, at a more 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 1,000-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, Christian, 38, and Olivier, 18 respectively.
Powered by a 45 hp, 748 cc, three-cylinder engine, but weighing only 1785 lbs., the Saab 93's agile handling and good aerodynamics enabled it to embarrass far more powerful, larger 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 it 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 will enjoy the event and we're looking forward to a little friendly rivalry between team-mates."
Saab's 1957 Mille Miglia success was followed by Erik `Mr Saab' 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 and 1960, 52,731 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 saloon and 95 station wagon which stayed in production until 1980.