UNO 001

The small town of Linköping in Sweden isn't known for much, except maybe its massive cathedral. But in 1989, something new rolled out of a small workshop that hoped to put Linköping on the map.

A well-financed team had put the finishing touches on the world's newest sports car, the imaginatively-named 001, from the imaginatively-named car company UNO. Now, I've been working for a few weeks on collecting as much information as I can on this prototype, and…there's not much. There's enough, however, to know it would have been a pretty interesting machine.

With styling that looks like every Japanese sports car from the 1980s—with a few cues from the Saab EV-1 concept thrown in for good measure—the 001 is a mid-engined design that places a Saab 4-cylinder turbo motor behind the cabin, with various Saab parts scattered around the car—including suspension, steering, and a well-placed tall gearshift and between-the-seats ignition.

Credit goes to Uno Johansson, a sheet metal worker and "inventor"—if the Google Translate done on Swedish articles is accurate. (As always, the sources are below so you're able to read more!)

Johansson added a number of interesting design details, like triangular crash structures built into the square tube metal frame and body panels that came off as "plates"; news reports said an entire 001 could be built in as little as two hours.

Performance figures are unknown, but in period the Saab 4-cylinder engines could be tuned to at least 220 horsepower with few modifications. This indicates that performance would have been on par with a Toyota MR2, or early Porsche Boxster.

Sources say that the project was "well-funded", but I did the math and the prototype would have cost about $400,000 USD. In the late 1980s, it was a significant pile of cash—but sadly not enough to produce more than one prototype.

Amazingly, much of what we know about the car is thanks to two trade school teachers who bought the car and were restoring the prototype into something more usable, a task they completed in late 2009. Various news outlets picked up the story, first when the car was to be sold and again as word got out that the UNO 001 would be restored.

It's nice to see a unicorn in good hands. (It looks like the video was taken out at Saab's test track, too!)