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Saab Scan Sport Formula 3 car
Speech for Sten Wennlo, executive vice-president of Saab Scania AB, at the press conference in London on the 22nd February 1985.
At the end of 1983, Saab was approached by a racing enthusiast who managed to convince us that our 16-valve engine was ideal for development into a Formula 3 winner.
The enthusiast was Bob Moore and he immediately got us interested in his project. He took it upon himself to have the engine developed by one of Britain's most renowned tuning specialists -Nicholson-McLaren.
Up to that time, we'd had no plans to develop our engine for racing. Our Competition Department -which concentrated exclusively on rallying - was closed by the end of 1980, and we hadn't actively engaged in rallying since.
Our engineers made an initial analysis of the technical conditions and soon found that Moore's enthusiasm was justified: the Saab engine could easily become a Formula 3 winner at relatively low cost.
And what really fired our interest at Saab-Scania was that the engine could be used for this type of racing with relatively few modifications. At the beginning of 1984, we placed a number of engines and a certain amount of expertise from our Engine Development at Bob Moore's disposal. Per Gillbrand -who is the head of our Engine Development Department - took part in the project almost from the beginning, and his colleagues, Anders Johansson and Sten Jiewertz, were the engineers most intimately involved.
It soon became clear that the project could give Saab much more than the mere prestige of producing the best Formula 3 engine. The initial development work demonstrated that the experience acquired, could also be applied to our standard engines.
This was important to us. At Saab we've always claimed that a car manufacturer could only justify entering competitions if the experience acquired could also be applied to the future development of standard cars.
This was the philosophy that guided us during our 35 years of rallying. The experience we acquired was extremely useful in the development of our standard cars. But when the new Group B regulations admitted new super cars in 1981, we at Saab decided that rallying was no longer justified.
When we became involved in the Formula 3 project, we soon realised that we could benefit by participating in racing. A Formula 3 engine is similar in many respects to the standard engines we can expect in the future. Tomorrow's motorist will make similar demands on his car in terms of usable engine speeds, engine output, combustion process and the supply of fuel/air mixture.So this project would enable us to acquire valuable experience which could be put into practical, every day use in the future.
This agrees with the basic philosophy I have already explained: Participation in motor sport must lead to concrete results which can be developed further. The initial tests undertaken jointly with Nicholson-McLaren quickly demonstrated that our assumptions were correct. The Saab 16-valve engine has tremendous potential as a racing engine, and the solutions to the technical problems faced by the engineers would also be of benefit to tomorrow's motorists.
One of the major reasons for our optimism was that the new Saab Direct Ignition system - now commonly known as the SDI system was then being developed. Although the SDI system is highly ingenious, its design is simple.
In the previews of the SDI system we have made so far, we have described it merely as a pure ignition system.
But further development work will be devoted largely to the ability of the SDI system to monitor and control the entire combustion process in an engine - a feature of vital importance in a Formula 3 engine, where the risk of damage caused by the extremely fast combustion process is great.
I'm not an engineer myself, so I won't attempt to describe the technical features in detail. I'll ask Per Gillbrand to do this during question time.
The new racing engine is now ready for the circuits. The fact that we could retain most components of the standard engine is the reason that the development work could be carried out so quickly. The engine block, cylinder head, crankshaft, connecting rods and camshaft have all been taken directly from the standard engine.
I won't try to go into any of the details in this area either. John Nicholson, who is with us here today, is much better equipped to answer any questions you might have. It soon became clear, however, that if the engine were as good as the initial tests indicated, we would obviously highlight it in our marketing.
We don't intend to market the Saab 16-valve engine as a competition engine ourselves, we'll leave this to Scan Sport. But we obviously wish to demonstrate that the engine performs well under racing conditions and to make use of this fact in our sales promotions.
Saab-Scania in Sweden has therefore decided to join forces with Saab Great Britain in co-sponsoring the newly created Formula 3 team - Scan+Sport - during the 1985 racing season. Whenever the team enters a race, Saab dealers will be given an opportunity to invite their customers. We'll thus be using racing in our sales promotion in a natural and interesting way.
So the participation of Saab in Formula 3 racing will be of more than technical interest, It will also become a new element in our marketing.
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