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Hagerty Employee

Sixten Sason and the little-known, far-reaching legacy of automotive aerodynamics

You likely know the names of Harley Earl, Battista "Pinin" Farina, and Virgil Exner. While each of those men have helped determine the character of a historic brand, it was the lesser-known Sixten Sason who truly popularized the science of aerodynamics in automotive design. Sason didn't pen his designs for Cadillac or Ferrari or General Motors; he researched, sketched, and tooled for Saab. In many ways, Sason brought aerodynamics to mass market automobiles, beginning with the very first Saab automobile in 1945 (the Ursaab) and continuing with every Saab through the 99, unveiled in 1968. Though Sason died before the 99 was introduced, his design ethos significantly influenced the later 900 models and, through them, just about every car Saab produced.


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The DKW F9 prototypes were running around for years before WWII paused their development. Saab copied more than just mechanical components. 


I’ll bet Honda pondered over an early Saab when they designed the first generation 2 seat Insight- the first modern hybrid sold in the US. A car that Hagerty dismissed as “not collectible” when I inquired about insurance. Quirky, unusual, fun to drive with the five speed manual.

Hagerty Employee

Hi there MrKnowItAll, the Insight is a vehicle that we can consider for coverage! If you could DM I would love to look into this a little deeper for you
New Driver

The Sonett II was introduced in 1966.  I wonder if Sixten Sason had any involvement it its design.


Sixten learned a lot from the 92>96 models.  The sharply slanted flat windshield was replaced by the bubble aircraft style screen for safety reasons so the air would go around the roof instead of up over it.  Also his innovative design of the 99>900 doors were an improvement as they were angled at the bottom and closed over the "rocker panels."

Incidentally, he had nothing to do with the Sonett II design, that being penned by an outside fiberglass firm.  He did design his version of a sports/touring car called the "Catrina" which was beautiful and reflected design elements of the future 99.


One of the perculiarities of the Saab models sold in the 70's was that the front fenders didn't have any kind of liner, so any large piece of gravel thrown up by the tires would hit the inside of the fender, denting the outside. And because the inside of the fender was highly visible when the hood was open a collision dent couldn't be straightened in the normal manner, because the hammer blows to the inside of the fender would be visible. So both the inside and outside of the fender would have to have plastic filler put on, and both sides painted. 

Intermediate Driver

Please put captions under the photos. Most of the cars pictured predate any Saab's I've seen and I would like to match them with the text. I've always had a soft spot for Saabs and appreciate that they remained recognizable throughout their history.


Kouwell ! Saab'n Tatra, on upto rd tractors, all related to jets/planes, slip stream not just for race cars, aerodynamics and industrial design...tied it all together centered on Mr Sason. Nice thinkin, even better writtin. Thanks!