Erik Carlsson, also known as Mr. Saab, is a rallying icon directly tied to the Swedish automaker's lore. 50 years ago, Carlsson won his first British RAC rally title in a three-cylinder, 750 c.c. Saab 96. He went on to win the event two more times – in a row. Carlsson took podium positions for Saab in rallies around the world, and if you look at his racing history, it's clear that Carlsson knows a thing or two about car control and motorsports. He has always driven Saabs and was even born in Trollhättan, the automaker's home town. So, what better time to honor him than now with a limited-edition Saab 9-3? The Saab 9-3 Aero Carlsson is being produced by Saab Great Britain and only 96 are going to be made, so U.S. Griffinistas are sadly out of luck.
The racing legend was honored during a luncheon at the RAC Club in London. The special-edition 280-horsepower 9-3 was announced and then displayed alongside a classic 96. A pleased Carlsson noted:
Hop the jump for the full press release and check out the high-res images below."This is a great occasion for me, it has been wonderful to see so many old friends again, including Stuart [Turner] who did such a fantastic job reading the maps. I wouldn't have won without his help. I also feel very honored to have a car named after me. Anyone who loves driving and is as passionate about Saab as I am, will be excited about getting behind the wheel."
Rally legend Erik 'Mr Saab' Carlsson today celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first British RAC Rally win by being reunited his co-driver, Stuart Turner, and a replica of the car that took them to victory.
Erik, now 81 years old and still working as a roving ambassador for Saab, was guest of honor at a lunch organized by Saab Great Britain at the prestigious RAC Club in London. He shared the limelight with the diminutive Saab 96, shipped over from the Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan, which will be displayed at the club for a week in honor of his achievements.
His victory 50 years ago at the wheel of the little three-cylinder, 750 cc car shook the world of rallying. It was the first of a hat-trick of RAC victories and Erik would go on to win the Monte Carlo rally twice, as well as the Acropolis and San Remo Rallies in the early 60s. Such 'David and Goliath' exploits against bigger, more powerful cars were the springboard for launching Saab as a global car brand.
Co-driver Stuart Turner, a little known motor sport journalist when he sat alongside Erik, would go on to achieve fame as international competition manager for BMC and Ford. He shared in today's celebrations with Erik and after the anniversary lunch the two old friends entertained guests with a lively question and answer session.
To mark the occasion, Saab Great Britain also announced the launch of a 280 hp, Saab 9-3 Aero Carlsson model, a limited edition of which only 96 will be produced.
"This is a great occasion for me," said Erik. "It has been wonderful to see so many old friends again, including Stuart who did such a fantastic job reading the maps. I wouldn't have won without his help.
"I also feel very honored to have a car named after me. Anyone who loves driving and is as passionate about Saab as I am, will be excited about getting behind the wheel."