Stig and the Saab 99

Cars

As a kid, I was obsessed with Saabs. There was something supremely left-field about them. Something that whispered of the alternative, the coldly exotic. And one of the main reasons for the obsession was that they were driven on the telly by men with strange names who wore rally jackets.

And one of the most prominent of these Scandinavian men who would chuck there oddly shaped motors around dusty corners at disreputable speed was Stig Blomqvist.

The assault of vowels and consonants that was his seemed perfectly to fit the otherworldly nature of his Saab 99 Turbo. Whilst up against the Ford Escorts that challenged it, it’s whiney wheeze captured the imagination. And the fact that my headmaster rolled up to school one morning in a brand new chocolate brown 99 one morning in 1978 didn’t detract from the cars impact.

Anyone with a name like Stig had to be someone special. The fact that this was Lennart Blomqvist’s nickname didn’t lesson the impact. Stig of the Dump was on the other side on after school afternoons, and there seemed no connection between Stig’s smelly, tip dwelling namesake and the Rally Champion. other than the fact that he existed, that is.

Stig went on, of course, to drive many of the definitive rally cars of the eighties, including the Fords, Talbots and Lancias – and he won the World Rally Championship in 1984 with an Audi Quattro underneath him – but the combination of Stig in the Swedish-liveried Saab 99 summed up a time when Scandinavian cars were as exotic as the names of their drivers.

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