Already when entering a Saab 99, you are struck by its strong personality. A facia tilted the wrong way, the wraparound windscreen, and the ignition key on the floor… Yes, a 99 is like no other car. Some people have complained about the ascew driving position, telling me of the not-straight steering wheel and seats. This is actually not true, the steering wheel and the seats are mounted straight ahead. It is the pedals that are mounted one step to the right (left, RHD), caused by a combination of the cab-forward design and the intrusive wheelarch. So you have to point your feet a little to the right. Unless you have an automatic! In that case, put your left foot on the footrest, and both feet are straight ahead. This does not apply to RHD automatics.
The facia, the ceiling above the windows, aswell as the a-, b- and c-pillars were padded with energy-absorbing material. Today we take this for granted, but in 1968, Saab 99 was the only car with such extensive padding. Often a body colored steel facia, was the order of the day. Also, the Saab engineers located the key in the console between the front seats.
Now when Saab did that in -68, it was the only safety-feature pioneered by the Swedes no one dared to adopt. We all have heated seats, headlight wipers and door impact-beams nowadays, but the key-trick has been considered too radical. Until now. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s official! The 2002 model Range Rover has the key barrel in the center console. I wonder who’s next…?