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08/07/2010 1701

Saab - Catherina

Catherina was a sports car prototype. the project with a new Saab sport car began in the early 1960s. Saabs designer Sixten Sason who a the time was working on a freelance basis, drew some sketcehes resembeling a small sports coupé for himself. Around this time plans for a new Saab sports car was taking shape. Sixten Sasons mission was to adapt his model to possible full-scale production. And in January of 1963 the work started on it in earnest January of 1963 the work started on it in earnest. Four months later assembly of the first prototype started in ASJ (railway equipment) workshop in the Swedish town of Katrineholm (hence the Catherina). I took until April 2 1966 before the first prototype was shown for the public, in Linköping Sports Centre. It was equipt with a bunch of futuristic features such as a removable targa top. Other Sason refinements did not make it beacuse the car was to be sutible for production. one of the things that Sixten wanted on the car was roofmounted headlamps for longer range on dipped beams. Incidentally some of the lines from the Catherina were used on Sixtens last Saab the Saab 99, (one of the best Saabs ever!) at this time Sixten also had some drawings of a 99 on his drawing board. But when the test drives were caried out it showed that quite a lot ofimprovment work still had to be done, before she was ready for production. At the same time a competitor to the Catherina appeared- made by Björn Karlström and Björn Andreassson. There model was called MFI 13. A comparison of the two prototypes showed that the MFI 13 was more sutible for production and later ti became the basis of the new Saab Sonett II. So the Catherina ended up on the Saab Museum in Trollhättan.


Like the Saab Formula Junior and the Saab Sonett Super Sport (Sonett I) the Catherina began life as the personal sports car project of Sixten Sason.

Sason conducted freelance work but was soon commissioned by Saab to adapt his design for full scale production. Work on this commenced in January 1963 and by May work began on the assembly of a prototype at the Svenska Järnvagsverkstäderna (ASJ) workshops in Katrineholm (hence the car's name).

The prototype was first shown on 24th April 1965 at the Linköping Sports Centre. The Catherina had a number of features that were ahead of their time, such as the targa top that was the correct shape to be neatly stowed in the boot. Other features that Sixten Sason envisaged, such as the roof-mounted headlamps to provide greater range on dipped beam, never made it to the prototype.

One might note the resemblance between the lines of the Catherina and those of the forthcoming Saab 99. This is not entirely surprising since both designs shared Sason's drawing board.

Test drives of the Catherina revealed the need for more development before production could be commenced. In the meantime a competitor in the form of MFI13 had appeared on the scene. A comparison of the two cars led to the MFI13 being chosen as the basis for a new model, the Saab Sonett II. Sason's Catherina is on display in the Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan.


The Saab Catherina is a 1964 prototype  automobile, commissioned by the Swedish automaker Saab, designed by Sixten Sason and made at the workshops of the Aktiebolaget Svenska Järnvägsverkstäderna (ASJ - the Swedish Railroad Works) in Katrineholm, Sweden  (hence the name). It is a red, two-seat sports car with a targa top.

Sason, who was working as a freelancer for Saab, made some drawings of a small sports coupé in the early 1960s. As Saab was planning to introduce a sports car model, the company commissioned him to adopt the design for mass production. The project began in January 1963 and in May the assembly of the prototype started at the ASJ. The prototype was first displayed, however, only on 24 April 1965, at the Linköping Sports Centre.

For economy reasons, the Catherina utilised many components of the contemporary Saab 96 and shared the same wheelbase, which was longer than the finally accepted design. Its unique feature was its targa top, which could be stowed in the luggage compartment of the car. Stemming from the design of an integral 'roll bar', it was still a new concept in the automotive industry, preceding the 1966 Porsche 911 Targa, which popularized it (and established the name). Sason also designed some other unusual features for the Catherina, such as the roof-mounted headlamps (for longer range), which were not included in the prototype because of the need to make the car fit for mass production.

After test drives on the prototype it was concluded that some more development work was needed. Meanwhile, another prototype, known as Saab MFI13, was prepared by the Malmö Flygindustri (MFI) and Saab chose it as a basis for its sports car, the Saab Sonett II. The Catherina ended up on display in the SAAB museum in Trollhättan, but Sason used some of the design cues previewed in the Catherina in his later design, the mass-market Saab 99.

source: Wikipedia




Sixten Sason
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