War Of The Noses – Saab 99

You’ve voted on the Saab 9-5. Here we go again.

This time I’d like you to select your favourite Saab 99 note from these two prominent contenders. Yes, there were other Saab 99 front-end variations but these two are the most-seen.

Note – both periods had variations with dual headlamps (round) on either side. I had to pick one or the other, so I’ve gone with the rectangular European versions just to be consistent.

Earlier – the late 1960’s style…..



Later – Mid 1970’s style


Here’s your poll…..

[poll id=”16″]

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  1. The 99 nose count should include the turn signals. For the ’70s “look”, there are three versions:
    1) the early version to around ’76 with a single yellow lens, rather short and longish.
    2) later/last version from ’78 with equal height yellow & clear lens with turn and cornering/back-up lighting.
    3) the version shown in the poll with yellow and short clear lens. To the North American I do not recall seeing this style.

  2. The 60’s style is nice and stylish, but the later 70’s front is more aggressive in a way I like. But when the 99 morphed into the 90 the middle field got too broad for my taste.

  3. If this week’s polls are noses…..next week are we going to compare butts? 🙂 The rear view of a car also says a lot, especially since that is what we tend to see most when driving.

    (Something tells me Sir Mix-a-Lot was not thinking of the Pontiac Aztec when he wrote his song….)

  4. I thought about this very issue when comparing the various 99s in the metal at the Saab museum a few years ago and in that situation I found it to be a no-brainer.

    The earlier, 1960s car is perfect in every way aesthetically.

    The later ones do not have the same clean lines, the delicately balanced proportions and details, or the overall elegance.

    As we know, the later car only really looks the way it does because of safety considerations – bigger bumpers, more prominent indicators, head restraints – but you can see they have not yet hit their stride in terms of how to integrate those things seamlessly into the design of the car! Arguably that doesn’t happen until 1986 and the revised, sleek version of the c900.

    But the irony for me is that I first fell in love with Saab as a boy because of a powder yellow late 1970s model 99, by then a bit of a veteran with a hint of rust here and there, with those massive awkward bumpers and big chunky indicator lights.

    Perhaps those 70s bits give the car more character (not that it was lacking any from launch) and somehow look wonderfully awkward and quirky on the 99. Not to mention those 70s colour schemes!

    So the early 99 is better looking, easily, and this would surely be confirmed if you were to take a poll of non Saab obsessives, I am certain of that.

    But the later mid-1970s one is probably the classic, quirky 99. Except it has to be the 3-door combi (hatchback) from 1974 onwards. The five-door saloon is a pretty unflattering shape with those extra 70s lumpy bits.

    What’s next, I wonder?


  5. It’s still April 1st over here, so I was expecting a poll where you get to choose between the NG900 and the 9-3 hatch. In black, so you don’t get distracted by the front spoiler.

    I think the poll results are influenced by which cars are better overall, which invariably favours the later model. That goes double for the 99, because the EMS and Turbo are such iconic cars.

  6. The picture chosen to illustrate the mid-70s look isn’t half as attractive as a 75/76 EMS…which is why I voted for the later type. I still reckon those early-middle EMS models (before the big corner lamps) were the prettiest Saabs made.

  7. I’d almost always pick the 60s for anything car styling, but in this case I think it has to be the 70s grille and light lockup.

  8. I’ve owned two 1976 EMS 99s so I voted the later style. I was never much keen on the earlier style. The final 99s with the bigger lights (front and rear) probably didn’t look as good.

  9. Back in the day, I used to “update” the earlier cars with later grilles and lamps but, in retrospect (and old age!), I’ve come to love the early chrome grilles and metal bumpers!