I realize that I've been cherry picking the best Saabs for #bcotd, with the EV-1 concept, "Monster" prototype, and kinda-Saab 92HK custom motorhome featured previously.
Truth is, as wonderful as normal production Saabs are, they're just so…Swedish. Sure, the performance is there, the features are there, but with many models it's as if the company is always holding something back.
You know who doesn't hold back when making cars? The Australians. I'm pretty sure that if you walked into a Holden dealer waving a stack of cash around asking for something batshit insane, within minutes you'd be roasting tires while scribbling '11' on the way home.
As it turns out, the Australians had a few modifications in mind for the Saab 900 Turbo, modifications to turn it into a truly great car…
…a car that was kind of batshit insane.
Saab Australia saw the potential in the standard 900 Turbo, but in 1980 it just wasn't meaty enough to entice buyers used to brawny V8s. What to do?
Build something called the 900 Enduro, naturally.
A dealer was commissioned to oversee developments to the car, changes that must have seemed like black magic to enthusiasts used to improving their ride by bolting on new carbs, headers, and a free-flowing exhaust.
Saab's turbocharged 8-valve 4-cylinder engine was given a kick in the pants, with boost cranked up to 17 psi (1.17 bar). And—amazingly—a water injection system was fitted as standard. Developed during the Second World War to improve the performance of aircraft engines, the systems (and mixture of water and alcohol) are generally embraced by tuners who need to cool certain aspects of the engine intake. Sometimes, the water must is used to cool the intake air, other times it's injected directly into the cylinders.
(Aside: Oldsmobile had the first water injection system—to compliment the first production turbo, the Jetfire. Olds called the injection mixture "Turbo-Rocket Fluid." Rad.)
A claimed 175 horsepower was on tap—not impressive these days, but we're talking about 1980 here.
The Saab 900 Enduro was more powerful than the Porsche 924 Turbo, the first Porsche 944—even the vaunted Ford Mustang SVO in those days made a weak 132 horsepower.
It'd take until 1985 for BMW to launch the M3, a comparable car in terms of size—with just 20 more horsepower from its race-derived engine.
Anyway, the car had other modifications to make use of the exotic motor: a fully revised suspension, wider track thanks to its meaty three-piece alloy wheels with low-profile rubber, and an outstanding body kit that defines the term "box flares."
For all its appeal, the car remains somewhat of a mystery. Nobody can agree on how many were made (most say 11), nobody knows how many are left (most say six, though only three have been seen in public), and although it's unlikely none have been exported, well, don't be surprised if one eventually turns up outside of Australia.
An Autospeed article from 1998 on one of the three 'known' Enduros gives this tidbit: "[The owner] told us stories of massive wheelspin exiting corners at (get this!) around 160km/h in 4th gear - yeah!!!"
So here we have a Swedish performance car that's shrouded in mystery, with a story more rumour than fact, performance to embarrass the sports cars of its day, and proof of only a few examples known to exist?
Just my kind of car.