Saab’s own engineers feared this twin-engine, two-stroke “Monster”

Bigfoot, perhaps, could be considered a mosnter. Or the Caspian Sea Monster. But for cars, maybe it’s the 987-horsepower, bi-winged Suzuki Escudoo that so dominated Pikes Peak throughout the ‘90s, that even its driver, Nobuhiro Tajima earned the nickname “Monster.” But a Saab?

Almighty and fearsome machines earn such a nickname, capable of striking fear into its enemies. But a small red Saab from the ‘50s might be the least likely man-made object on Earth capable of living up to the nickname. And yet, the Swedes went ahead and called it the “monstret.” 

Saab was just 10 years into building cars in 1959 when its engineers realized that the 93, already with its list of giant-toppling rally victories, could use some more power. So, as an experiment, Saab engineers took an ordinary 93 and lightened it as much as they could. Then, underneath a plastic hood, two 748-cc, three-cylinder, two-stroke engines were mounted transversely alongside each other. Somehow, they both fit. The result had two distributors, two sets of (front-facing) headers, one single clutch and gearbox system, and a massive single radiator that fit, in bizarre Saab fashion, behind the engines, in front of the firewall. Mad genius!

Saab 93 Monstret

The result was 1.5 liters of displacement and 138 horsepower, which was impressive, because a regular 93 produced somewhere between 30 to 55 horsepower (the latter only if one had purchased a limited-edition Saab GT750 between the years 1958 and 1960, then opted for the super tuning package). Evidently, engineers were able to squeeze a few more horses out of this sordid two-motor arrangement.

A regular 93 could never break 100 mph, but at Såtenäs airfield, in southern Sweden, Saab clocked the skunkworks 93 to an unofficial top speed of 122 mph. No word on the Monster’s sprint to 60 mph, but with the previous figures in mind, one can safely assume it is quicker than the 93’s 0-60 time of 27 seconds.

And it was while executing this relatively straightforward, straight-line attempt that the Monster earned its nickname. Evidently, cramming two engines before the front wheels led to the sort of nightmarish handling that could get one pulled over under suspicion of DWI. The 93’s teardrop shape meant that the rear end would lift at speed, exacerbated by all that front-end weight, which contributed to understeer. On top of that, the added power not only heaped on torque steer, but also broke the gearbox pinions. After trying out the twin-engined 93 at Sweden’s Gelleråsen circuit and surviving, the engineers dubbed it the Monster, and wisely decided to never, ever try that again. Saab canceled the project.

Saab 93
Saab 93 Saab

Today, the Monster lives on (read: lurks around in a lair, waiting to strike) in the Saab Museum in Tröllhattan, where it no longer devours the wide-eyed enthusiasm of hapless engineers. And although Saab is gone, the Monster lives on.

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