Saab EV-1


Yesterday, Jalopnik had asked what the most 80s car was, and I responded with the Plymouth Roadster, a plastic-and-neon roadster concept from 1989.


But as soon as I posted it, I realized I'd forgotten one criteria…

The most 80s car would have been featured in Back To The Future.

And the Saab EV-1 was. 

That's right, this running, driving prototype was an extra in Back To The Future Part II. How awesome is that? 

And how awesome is it that it's named EV-1—the name of the aborted General Motors electric car prototype—but instead hides a drivetrain capable of 270 km/h (168 mph)?

But instead of pulling upward, its pilot retracted the gear, lit the afterburner and bore past us at 250 mph at an altitude of 35 ft. Hell’s own fury followed, redolent of kerosene and a flash of heat in the sub-zero temperature.
— Dennis Simanaitis, Road & Track

Like the Sonett range before it, the EV-1 had a simple mission: turn Saab mechanicals into a sports car. But as a leader in turbocharging, its mechanicals were far better than most—not to mention with the company's (loose) aircraft ties gave them access and artistic license to exploit every aerodynamic trick.

Saab designer Bjorn Envall, talking to Road & Track writer, Simanaitis, said, "A lot of intuitive thinking went into the design…the kind of thinking that can outsmart a computer."

Is is a pretty shape, isn't it? Certainly edgy but not entirely lacking in character.

For its 80s cred: finned, unidirectional, three-hole disk wheels. Saab Night Panel. Solar panels in the roof. Cut-out side windows. Kevlar nose and tail, like a Formula 1 car.


Performance was awesome. As Saab noted, even with its 16-valve 4-cylinder turbo motor lifted from the 900 Turbo production car, it was on par with a period Ferrari Testarossa: along with its top speed, it'd hit 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds. 

Think of it as a sort of Subaru SVX, with a Ford Focus ST drivetrain.

Would it have been a success? Sadly, the EV-1 was such a complete-looking prototype that it's unfortunate we never saw a production version.

There were other 80s concepts that were made, however. But that's a story for another day. 

Sources / Recommended reading