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Copyright 2021 - Copyright 2015 Stefan Vapaa

Quantum Two at PVGP 2014

I took the Quantum Two to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix over the July 20-21 2014 weekend. We battled with blown head gaskets all weekend, which we later discovered was due to a blow head gasket. Amazingly, I was able to complete enough laps to qualify the car well. The conditions during qualifying were perfect for me and the car, meaning that it was pouring down rain!

Unfortunately, on the sunny Sunday of the race, I managed only a lap and a half before spinning on my own coolant when the head gasket failed again. Still, it bodes well for another try another year.

At our overnight stop in Somerset during the tow out (photo by Chris Raia)


Turn 1 (Photo by Chris Raia)

Over Panther Hollow bridge (photo by Bill Stoler)

in the middle of the Serpentine (photo by Mike Kelley)

These are the qualifying results for my race. Mark would go on to win the race by a huge margin.

Quantum Two, back on track

April 12, 2014

Having completed the necessary updates and checks to take the Quantum Two racing again, my crew (consisting of my friend Chris) and I headed to the VSCCA's event at Pocono Raceway It was a very successful outing with the only mechanical problems consisting of minor engine overheating (later discovered to be a blown head gasket) and overheating/overworking the rear shocks. The latter resulted in greatly reduced damping and finally, a hole in the left rear fender where the shock blew through!

Have a look at the gallery of photos Chris took and my video from the final race.




03-13-2014 Q2 Progress so far

I've been busy.

While I haven't kept records of my daily progress, since I last wrote that the race preparation was starting I have done quite a lot. Plenty is left to do of course.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Expansion Chamber

Dad and I spent some good time together fabricating an expansion chamber. I finished it up after he left for the mountain house.

Following this, I hung most of a new exhaust system behind it. Only the final section remains to be done.


I rebuilt (took apart and cleaned and put back together again) all of the wheel cylinders.

Here is one of the front (4) all laid out and ready to go back together.

I took apart the brake master cylinder, which was made easier by the fact that they used a shop air line fitting as the hose barb for the remote reservoir.

However, I discovered that either I lost a part of the internals (unlikely, but not impossible) or that part had been missing from a previous rebuild job. So I had to go hunting for a rebuild kit. It has arrived, and now I need to finish the rebuild job.

Roll Bar

While Dad was still here, we bent the main hoop of the roll bar and figured out how to fit it. We did it a little crooked, so I had to make some fixes, but that's all done now. I finished the welding on the bar and braces last weekend and only have to wait for the harness belts to arrive (to do a final test fit) before sandblasting and painting.


I had a difficult time locating new outer driveshaft boots, but a SAAB collector named John Bottger found an unused set in his collection and sold them to me so I didn't have to buy a set all the way from Sweden!

After I sent off some of my brake lines to be re-made in braided stainless format, I was informed that he didn't have the correct fittings and they couldn't be completed. So I've had to look elsewhere. Moss Motors has gotten three orders from me in as many days.

Because my local British parts supplier is temporarily closed for a few months, I am struggling to find things that fit the plumbing on my car (which is largely British). For example, I need some 3/8 British Standard Pipe Thread banjo bolts... I had to order those from Moss too.

The new harness belts were on backorder, but have now shipped.

There's more, but I am out of time for this update. Come back later for more!

01-19-2014 Race Preparation Begins

I finally got the garage (mostly) cleared out and started working on the race preparation of the Quantum 2. It has been a long time coming but if I want to have it ready for shakedown at the first VSCCA event of the year in Pocono (April 12th & 13th), I have to get cracking.

Pocono is a good place for the car to go for a its first vintage racing event.

  • It is as affordable as our events get, both for the event itself and for the local hotels.
  • Spectators can see the entire course from a single viewing point (good for crew to know what is going on).
  • Temperatures are generally mild or downright chilly, so if there are faults in the cooling system we can sneak up on them.
  • The course is undemanding or downright boring, so if the car is not 100% there's plenty of time to think about it.
  • It is close to home, so the long tow back is less long if things go poorly.
So that's the goal.

11 Weeks to Go

Keep in mind, this is NOT a restoration

I am doing a mechanical refurbishment with specific modifications to meet vintage racing legality. The goal is to maintain the car's "as found" and "as last raced" appearance.

So where do I start?

I start with the things that I might need another set of hands with. In this case, the roll bar.
Dad is happy to help, but he leaves for the mountain house in a few weeks. My window of opportunity is relatively small.
The roll bar will start as a single long piece that is a bit of a bear to manage alone.
First things first. Yank the old one!
The original roll bar is held in by bolts going through double-halves of muffler clamps.
As it turns out, this is apropo...
Because the original roll bar is made out of exhaust tubing!
My goal is to mimic the profile of the original, so there's my template.

Quantum 2, How She Ended Up With Me

Note: This article was first published on Tuesday, 08 November 2011 on my at-speed.com site.

On the night of July 13th, I was out in my garage working to get ready for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. It was coming up in a little over a week and as usual, I was using the late night hours after Annalisa had gone to bed to get my garage work done. Around 11:00, just before turning off the lights and shutting down the AC, I checked my email.  This is what I found.

"Quantum enthusiasts,

Sadly, I recently learned of the passing of Richard Blank from whom I acquired "Quantum #2" a few years ago.  You may recall that he gave it to me because he didn't have any storage space, but he was always interested in it because it was built by his father. Unfortunately, I'm not real long on storage space myself, and also not really that interested in the car, so I would like to have it move on to someone who appreciates it more than I and will perhaps do more with it than just keep it safe and warm as I have done.  In the spirit of Richard and his daughter Kathleen (who named it "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"), I will send it to a good home for $1 which is what the bill of sale says I paid Richard for it, although the payment may have been in the form of beer.

The engine is a near-new 750 cc which runs perfectly (it's pickled at the moment, was last driven in 2006 - photo attached) and the car has all new brakes.  It needs a battery, a fuel pump, and an exhaust (OK, perhaps a little work on the shift linkage).

If one of you is interested, let me know, otherwise I might have to leave it on Bruce Welch's lawn in the middle of the night :-)

Gary Stottler"

I looked at the list of people the email was sent to. There were four of us "Quantum enthusiasts" in the To: list. 15 minutes later, I replied with the following.

I am saddened to hear of Richard's passing but thanks for letting us know about it. I would be more than happy to give #2 a home alongside #1. #1 is sitting behind me as I type this (yes, I have a computer in the garage) and I've been working to get it ready to race. Right now I am chasing what I think is an ignition issue, but I'm confident I'll figure it out soon!

Honestly, the idea of reuniting the two cars is very exciting. It would be educational to compare them side by side as well.

If you drink it, I'd be happy to add some local brews to sweeten the deal in the spirit of the transaction!"

I then went in the house and tried to get some sleep.  I could not, so I got up and did a little iRacing until I was so tired I kept crashing.  Then I went to sleep.

The next day, I get this:

I'll be away this weekend (Road America vintage races), but I'll get back with you next week.   I'll bet we can work something out!  I agree, it would be cool to have the 2 cars together!   And I certainly want her to be appreciated as a Quantum, not parts for somebody's 93 project!

I do think that if I get time this winter I'll write up a little blurb (maybe for Ray for VV) with what I know about the history and the pictures I have from the last 40 years of her life.

OK, I think. It isn't exactly crystal clear confirmation, but it sounds like I "won".
I reply immediately with:

"That's fine Gary. I am away this weekend as well (my cousin's wedding) and next weekend (Pittsburg Vintage Grand Prix) but of course I can always be reached... I'm as "connected" as anyone these days. I can get email on my phone and here's my cell number for you: 302-nnn-nnnn.

Brevity of message due to typing on a phone"

After which, I hear nothing...
So, nervous, I send another email:

"Hello Gary,
I just wanted to let you know that I am leaving for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix in a few hours. I'll have occasional opportunities to check my email on my phone.

Its going to be HOT this weekend.  I'm a little worried about the Formula S's ability to manage that heat.  Oh well, it is what it is and we'll deal with it as best we can.

Talk to you soon!"

A few days later (July 24th) I hear back from Gary:


Hope you had fun in Pittsburgh, sorry for my slow reply.   I also got a reply from Dave Hosmer about the Quantum #2 (I assume you know Dave?).  You were the first to reply to the original message, so it seems that you have "right of first refusal", but just to let you know that there are other qualified caretakers waiting in the wings if needed!   That said, I'll let Dave know that you and I are working on it, and if it make sense at any point for the two of you to talk, that'd be great.

Any thoughts on arrangements for moving "her"?  I will be away the next 2 weekends, then home August 13-14, then at SOC.  
From my perspective, Labor Day or early Sept would be fine - at that point the summer craziness will be over and my son will be off to college (I guess there will be fall craziness, but I don't know what it is yet...)

Talk to you soon,


Now, I think that seals it!

I forgot to mention that until the 7th of September, I still hadn't told The Lovely Annalisa that I was getting this car.  I was being superstitious. I felt like if I mentioned it to anyone, something would go wrong.  Apart from checking with my friend Sam about possible storage arrangements, I hadn't told anyone.

Gary told some folks though.
I went to the National SAAB Owner's Convention on August 20th. I rolled in and almost immediately found folks congratulating me on my new "acquisition".  I took this as a good sign.

So back to our story.
On the morning of the 17th, at 6am, I hit the road with mom's 9-3 SC Aero and an empty trailer.

I95 north
Blue Route
PA Turnpike
Southern Tier Expressway west
Rt 15 north
into the Village of Honeoye Falls.

Yes, "village". I saw two traffic lights. After a little trouble finding Gary's driveway (it was hidden by a truck doing landscape work on his front lawn) we connected and I parked the trailer back by his garage.  He opened the garage door, and there at the back under a pile of blankets is the Quantum II.  It looks exactly as I expected, which is to say, rough.  Even on its best day, it was never pretty.

Now the paint, what is left of it, is peeling.  But there are still clear signs of former race glory. It says "HMOD" on the side, has "57" on the back, and "Quantum SAAB" on both rear fenders, all clearly hand painted. The metal is dented, battered and bent, but all there.  The windscreen, looking very very wrong, is mounted.  The tires all still have air in them.

We drag the car out into the daylight for the first time since 2006.  We take some pictures and begin to fettle.

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place


After installing a battery and checking the coolant level, we turn on the fuel pump (loud at first, then nicely quiets down) and reach into the engine bay to push the starter (it doesn't have a solenoid, just a lever).  On 6 year old gas, the nicely "pickled" engine spins and starts almost immediately.  The choke isn't connected, so I manage it manually by alternately covering and uncovering the carburetor with my hand.  After a short while, I find a balance where I leave my hand on it with about 80% of the choke covered.  Eventually, it finds it’s idle.

Smoke is everywhere.  With so much "pickling juice" in the engine, it has a lot to clear out.  It smells, well, pretty bad.

But it sounds great! A little throttle blip has neighbors peeking their heads out of doors and the landscape contractors jogging down the driveway to see what's up.


The brakes are not entirely right as they don't seem to want to release all the way, so I decide not to drive it.  We turn off the little stink-maker/smokescreen generator/mosquito repel-er and grin like happy fools at it.

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Gary has a lot of nice cars.  I took some pictures that show them.  This was a mistake, or, at least sharing them with my wife was a mistake.  She is angry that I came home with what I did, instead of what I didn't.  Of course, the catch is that nothing else was available!

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

Gary has two pristine 99s.  One is a '78 Turbo while the other is a '77 EMS.  He also has a lovely model 96 GT850, from which we borrowed the battery to start the Quantum II.  We went to lunch (I bought) and to visit a local microbrewery (http://www.custombrewcrafters.com/homepage2.html) in the 99 Turbo.  What a great car!  I found one beer I liked particularly well, the "Caged Alpha Money IPA".  Gary gave me an empty growler and I made sure some Caged Alpha Monkey IPA went in it to bring home to share with The Lovely Annalisa.

Now, back at the garage, it was time to load the Quantum II.  I started her up and drove her onto the trailer. Easy as can be!  Once tied down Gary explains that I can't leave without at least trying to load Mom's "Little Red Wagon" with a full set of Saab Special Tool toolboards.  These are steel, with pictograms of all the special tools, metal pegs and cups and stuff.  They're 4' x 4' and there's a pile of them.  They actually fit in the car very well.  Better in fact, according to Gary, than in the Tahoe that they arrived in.  Gary’s friend Bräd ran home to grab the last two boards to finish the set and a couple of brand new but unneeded sway bar links for Mom’s Little Red Wagon. Now we're loaded down and I gotta hit the road, but there's one more thing we had to do.

Quantum II at Gary Stottler's place

We decided that a Bill of Sale would be a good idea, so Gary printed one out on his computer. I signed it, Gary signed it, and his SAAB friend Bräd signed it as witness.  Currency accounted for = $1.

That done, I handed over the item I personally considered as the proper payment... To seal the deal, I gave Gary a case of hand selected Delaware craft beers.  Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA, Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, EVO Lucky 7 Porter, and Fordham Copperhead Ale.  I didn't know what he preferred, so I picked 4 different styles figuring I'd get at least one right.

As I pulled out of his driveway, waved and gave a brief honk of the horn, the last thing I heard was of Gary saying to Bräd "How about we go try some of our new Delaware craft brews..."

Quantum II on the trailer home

Quantum II on the trailer home

Quantum II on the trailer home

Quantum II on the trailer home

The next chapter is beginning.  I need to decide what sort of restoration I will do.  The car is solid, but the body is badly dented and the paint is flaking off very fast. As much as I’d like to maintain its “as last raced” patina, that is going to be a real challenge.

Between Dad and I we now own 3 of the 5 models attributed to Walter Kern’s "Quantum" family. Through that, I've sort of become the un-official historian for the "marque".  Appropriately, I've just registered a new domain... http://www.quantumsaab.com/

Known Race History for the Quantum 2

We don't know a lot about the race history of the Quantum 2, but we do know this much...

It raced in the 1961 Marlboro 6 Hour race at the Marlboro Motor Raceway in Upper Marlboro, MD with the number 57. The photo below shows the Quantum 2 with the sister Quantum 1 (number 12) on the grid. It was a modified "LeMans" start so the cars were lined up in the pits facing towards the main straight.

Richard 'Dick' Nash / Gene 'Gino' Hobbs finished in 22nd place having covered 149 laps in car # 57 (the Quantum 2) Miller / Joe Dodge were not so lucky, only covering 81 laps and was placed 30th overall (probably not running) in car # 12 (the Quantum 1)

We are very lucky to have been provided with some film footage of the 1961 Marlboro 6 Hour race in which the Quantums are featured. Below is a series of excerpts from that footage focusing on the Quantums.