To conclude the ‘Long Run’ post I had a look at the repairs carried out on the cars to see how they had stood up to the gruelling test, often carried out in heavy rain and strong winds. Despite these difficult conditions the average speed never dropped. This was put down to the excellent all round abilities of the Pirelli P600 tyres and obviously the skill and confidence of the test drivers.
So what went wrong with the cars during the test? Nothing much actually, the one thing Saab hadn’t given too much thought to was the steeply curved bank of the track. After a day, it was found that the engine was being starved of fuel when the level in the tank became low just before each fuel stop. It was found that sufficient allowance had not been made for the shifting of the fuel to the lower side of the tank, resulting in the fuel pump drawing in air, which in turn caused one exhaust valve in each car to burn out after 15 days. The quickest remedy was to replace the complete head with the spare head carried in the car, and just in case any damage had been done to the turbochargers, these were replaced at the same time. However when checked at the end of the test the turbo chargers were found to be in near perfect condition, proving just how long these units would last in normal service (always one of the questions any potential owner was bound to ask) therefore making head replacement the only major repair to the cars.
The entire test was carried out under strict supervision. Laps were continually counted and timed, and all work carried out in the pit lane was closely scrutinised.
With the ‘Long Run’ completed the cars were completely stripped down, and the various components inspected and measured for wear.
The engines were taken back to the engine laboratory in Trollhattan, where all three engines were subsequently found to be in excellent condition, although Shell did find a small degree of impurities in the drained engine oil.
The gearboxes had also performed perfectly during the test. The oil never changed as the units according to Saab were ‘lubricated for life.’
No chassis components such as springs, shock absorbers, or wheel bearings needed to be replaced.
The brakes of course were little used, apart from high speed stops entering the pit lane, with each car coming in 500 times during the test. Remarkably only two of the cars needed the pads changing once, with the third car still on original pads at the end of the test.
I think the most interesting thing about the test, other than showing just how good these cars were, is the damage done to the windscreens and headlamp glass. The dust kicked up from the track made by the three cars constantly driving round for hour after hour, day after day had ‘sandblasted’ the glass, making it very difficult to see through the windscreen, especially at sunset and in the mornings.
So there you have it, no need to be surprised anymore as to why your car ‘just goes on and on.’ Saab knew all along just how good their cars were.