Salon Auto Oy

SALON AUTO Oy.

(Salo cars Ltd.)

So I decided to make a forum thread about my Finnish vehicle brand, Salon.

History lesson!

The name comes from the city of Salo, where the headquarters and the first factory was located in the beginning of the company.


The company was founded by a pair of women; they were said to be very good friends. One of them had worked for the british Winson car company (forum page arriving eventually™), and was inspired to create her own car that would take over Finland, and took her friend along, who was a mechanic and rather skilled when it came to mechanical design.


Their goal was to basically put Finland on wheels, that weren’t Soviet wheels. Because Finland had import regulations for cars in before the 60s, meaning that western cars were very expensive to buy, hard to get your hands on, only viable options were Soviet-made cars, but of course a domestic car company would mean the people wouldn’t have to resort to “eastern steel”.


The goal of the brand was to be as modern and forward- thinking as possible with the available resources, and inspiration was often taken from other European cars, such as the Volkswagen and Citroen 2CV. The first car released under the name, Salon 923, did indeed have a rather advanced layout for the time, longitudinally placed Boxer-4 engine, delivering power to the front wheels instead of the rear. This eliminated the risk of oversteer and the need of a transmission tunnel, and made the car much easier to drive.

History lesson will continue in following posts

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Salon 923

1950-1962

Placing Finland on wheels


Engines:
35hp 0.9L OHV B4
46hp 1.2L OHV B4
53hp 1.4L OHV B4

Gearboxes:
3-speed manual
4-speed manual (1957-1961)

Weight:
690-743kg

Chassis:
Steel Unibody
Steel panels
McPherson front suspension
Solid Axle Leaf rear suspension

Driving wheels: Front


Salon 923 was the first project of the company, created to tackle the largest market of the time: family car market. War was quite hard on Finland, and most people couldn’t afford cars, so the goal was to make something relatively cheap, but also something that people would want to drive, and could drive with relative ease.


Instead of relying on mostly pre-war design choices, such as separate frames, rear-wheel drive setups and such, the car had modern engineering choices such as front-wheel drive, and unibody design, which did create some trouble in production, as said style of body is far more difficult to create than a simple body-on-frame design. The car was designed with ease of driving and a sense of security in mind, goal being to be as “future-proof” as possible.



When released, the car was a moderate success, being rather cheap, but more expensive than eastern cars of the time. It was praised for excellent handling and powerful engines, but the cargo space was small, interior was loud and somewhat cramped, despite the lack of a transmission tunnel.

The suspension could adequtely hold on even on the worse roads, but the front-drive setup was found to be rather fragile, which honestly was expected from a fresh car company with no prior expertise making this complex style of drive layout.


The 923 was offered in 3 different equipment levels: A, L and S, being base, mid and highest trims respectively. the changes were mostly cosmetic, such as highest trims getting two-tone paintjobs.

Equipment in these cars were average for the time, entertainment was not standard, but the car came with a very powerful heater, that made it possible to keep the car rather toasty even during coldest winters, and for that they were often nicknamed “Sahara”, as it made the car feel like a desert on a sunny day.



In 1957 the car received a facelift after being on sale for 8 years, as it was seen to be more affordable and reasonable than making a completely new model, as it was still holding up against rival offerings, and still managing to feel up-to-date, except for the design itself.

The shape of the body was revised somewhat, giving it a shape closer to a 3-box layout, and the front was completely reworked to fit in the design standards of the day.

The 3-speed manual gearbox was also phased out in favor of a 4-speed one, as owners found the gearing to be awkward in certain speeds with the 3-speed.



Production ended in 1962, as the car was starting to look rather out of date, the facelift not being able to fix the general shape of the car.
The harsh import regulations were also being phased out during this year, and the outdated design of the car wouldn’t hold up against new, sharp-looking western competition.


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As a bargain-basement people’s car for the masses, the 923 performed its job admirably, and single-handedly broke the country’s dependence on communist machinery thanks to its low cost, especially considering its innovative mechanical configuration.

Some Saab vibes but still with an identity on its own. Nice.

Oooh man i like it! got some of that funky old Tatra, and Saab vibes

Salon 518

1951-1969

The 4-wheel motorcycle


Engines:
25hp 0.6L OHV i3
29hp 0.7L OHV i3
34hp 0.9L OHV B4

Gearboxes:
3-speed manual

Weight:
501-594kg

Chassis:
Steel Unibody
Steel panels
McPherson front suspension
Solid Axle Leaf rear suspension

Driving wheels: Front


Who said that microcars have to be extremely barebones, dull-looking and slow? Not Salon at least, when creating the 518. The 518 is basically meant to be a smaller version of the 923 family car, meant to serve someone that needs a car for personal transport rather than family use.

The 518 was made to be a sort of a classless car; cute, affordable, but something that wasn’t only cheap, so it could also be a “toy” for more wealthy people. Also unlike other microcars, the 518 was designed with higher speeds in mind, not limiting it to barely being able to reach 80km/h. This was something that could take advantage of the german autobahns, when the car exporting would start.


Like the 923, the power output of the car was higher than the average in the class, and even the base model 25hp engine could reach 100km/h (although just barely). This car too would be a front-wheel drive, unibody design, and the easy handling of the car could accomodate the higher speeds it could reach.

Originally the 518 was only planned to be equipped with the 3-cylinder engines, which were mostly just modified motorcycle engines, but after the engineers managed to shoehorn the 900cc B4 from the 923 in the car, it was decided to be added in the lineup, despite the fact that now the car could reach speeds that were quite dangerous for a car this light.



The car was an immediate success, thanks to being affordable enough that even a working-class person could save up enough money to acquire one for themselves. Reviewers praised the car for excellent handling charasteristics, quick acceleration and good fit and finish for a car this small, but weren’t happy about the fuel consumption that was higher than most microcars, thanks to the engines being tuned to accomodate higher speeds.

Interior was found acceptable for a car this small, but you couldn’t fit more than 1 adult or 2 children in the back seat, as the wheel arches made it rather narrow from the inside. Engines were also very rough and rattly, except for the 0.9 Boxer taken from the 923.


Like the 923, the 518 was available in 3 trim levels, A, L, and S, S being the highest one. Equipment was very similar to 923 as the cars shared many parts, such as the same gearbox, front suspension and most of the interior. The car was offered as a 2-door sedan and a 2-door estate.

It was also sold as a convertible, which was very popular within wealthier folk, as the classless design, ease of driving and the power of the Boxer-4 made the car an excellent fun second car. It also helped that it was cheaper and far easier to get than a small british roadster.

But out of all the estate sold the most, as it was most practical of them all, being able to actually fit things inside the car unlike the sedan, which had very minimal boot space.



Unlike the 923, sales kept staying strong even after the import regulations were removed, thanks to the price and excellent driving charasteristics of the car. It survived until 1969, and sales were mostly good even until that point, but concerns about the car’s safety started to arise, as the structural design of the car was really not up to the task of protecting the passengers at all, despite being able to reach motorway speeds, and even having that in mind when engineering the car.



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What’s the size of this cute bubble?

Well it has a wheelbase of 1.8 metres, which is similar to the Fiat 500 of the time, so it would probably be really close to the size of the Fiat. (Although the Fiat used the interior space much better than I could in automation) :sweat_smile:

Your motorbike is beautiful and safe. By the standards of the 50s, when the roads were completely empty. The model Salon 518 is an example of virtuoso engineering that reflects well on the long-lasting photos for the desktop of a true photographer.

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These are some of the best small car designs on here for a long time :slight_smile: The 923 definitely has Saab vibes and the 918 looks a bit like an Italian Austin A30. Can’t wait to see what you come up with for the 60s

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Well before the 1960s I still have one model yet from the late 50s that I will be posting soon- it’s a larger car meant for fleet use, also Salon’s first body-on-frame car.

But from the 60s you can expect at least

  • a Compact hatchback
  • a SUV-like wagon
  • a Van
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Salon 1425

1957-1964

Something for everyone



Engines:
61hp 1.4L OHV B4
71hp 1.8L OHV B4
81hp 2.0L OHV B4

Gearboxes:
4-speed manual

Weight:
815-985kg

Chassis:
Steel Body-on-frame
Steel panels
Double Wishbone front suspension
Solid Axle Leaf rear suspension

Driving wheels:
Front
Rear (optional for utility variants)



After a good amount of years of both the 923 and 518 being on the market, it was decided that Salon needed to expand to the larger car market, able to serve as a fleet car, for taxi, police, etc., and also something slightly more upmarket than the S-trim of the rather compact 923.

Salon was also in the desperate need of utility cars such as pickups and vans, as panel van conversions of the 923 weren’t exactly the most capable vehicles out there, and carrying heavier loads was out of question, due to the lack of power, 3-speed gearbox and FWD limiting traction when all the weight is in the rear.

It was decided to combine all of these into one singular model, since despite having 2 moderately well-selling models in the lineup, Salon was not exactly swimming in cash, there was enough to keep the lights on and production lines running, but a larger car with higher profit margins was desperately needed.


So, the 1425 project was started, this time running on more conservative technology than the previous cars, as the car was built on a body-on-frame platform. Partly because of lower costs, but also to make it easier to have the car be able to be configured with either RWD or FWD layout, as RWD would be quite useful on the utility models. Designing all the different bodystyles was also easier with a frame-based platform, as the body became a less integral part of the car’s rigidity.

Base engine would be the same 1.4L Boxer-4 found from the Salon 923 option list. For the bigger engine variants an inline engine lineup was considered, but the increased length of the engine didn’t allow for a front-wheel drive layout, so it was decided to develop a new bigger lineup of boxer engines instead.



Reviewers found the car to be a rather pleasant driving experience, it being far roomier, more silent, better to drive and most importantly, more comfortable than the other Salon cars on sale. On higher speeds the car was stable, and the engine wasn’t very stressed, thanks to the rather long gearing, which paired to the relatively good torque of the engine, made the car quite a relaxing driving experience.

It was criticized for being more expensive than the competition on the market, but that is to be expected when the competition consisted mostly of Skoda 440’s, Moskvitch 407’s, and Wartburg 311’s.

The utility variants met a similar warm welcome, although the heavy-dute rear leafs designed to handle larger loads made the car less comfortable, and when empty, could even cause the rear to jump. The van was also quite loud, as the noises echoed extremely well in the empty cargo area.

Design language was all new and it received a warm welcome, as people were rather tired of seeing the weird bubbly 923’s and 518’s roaming on the streets, and this was a breath of fresh air.


The 1425 became a good seller, thanks to it being a very versatile car, serving multiple markets and demographics. It was popular especially in fleet use, and soon could be found parked on the side of the road as a taxi, police car, mailvan, or just as an average larger family car.

Especially the police force was quite happy of the car, as the 81hp 2.0L engined saloon was faster than most other cars on the road, making hypothetical police chases quite unpleasant for the criminal, unless they also had the 1425 with the 2-litre beast of an engine (for the time at least).



Sales kept staying consistent through the model years, although in the early- to mid 1960s the car was starting to look rather old-fashioned. As a cost-saving measure, it was decided that the utility models will be carried on until 1970, but the passenger car lineup will be remodeled in 1964.

As the car is body-on-frame, it was decided that the platform, that has proven itself very good, is going to be used in the future larger car models as well, to reduce the engineering costs. One of these projects on the frame is going to be a rugged utility wagon, with tall ground clearance and vast cargo space, but still civilized enough to be able to be used as a commuter or family car. This model is set to release in 1964, to partially cover some of the 1425 customer base.

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Sadly there hasn’t been much progress lately when it comes to the brand, and there is still a ton of cars to write these… idk what to call them, essays I guess?

but in the meantime, I am going to leave this here, my new Salon project:

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Well, I have plans to continue writing about my cars again here, and I would like to ask my audience:

What would you like to see?

As in, is there anything I should change about my writing style, length of the posts, or anything else? I am open to all sorts of suggestions, as I would like to see my posts being enjoyed as many people as possible. :smile:

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I like the way they are written now tbh. The style and era of cars you usually make appeals to me too so I don’t think there is much I would do different

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Salon Petit

1960-1973

International hit



Engines:
30hp 0.7L OHV i3
38hp 0.9L OHV B4
50hp 1.1L OHV B4

Gearboxes:
4-speed manual

Weight:
564-618kg

Chassis:
Steel monocoque
Steel panels
Double Wishbone front suspension
Solid Axle Leaf rear suspension

Driving wheels:
Front


For the entire 50s, the family car market for Salon had mostly consisted of the 3 models, the Salon 923, then a bit later the 518, and finally to tackle the larger car market, the Salon 1425.

Because of that, by the late 50s, it had become clear that the gap between the Salon 518 and 923 was quite large. Therefore, it was decided to make a new mass-market small economy car, that would also lead Salon into the right direction for the upcoming decade.

Salon still wasn’t exactly a very large car company though, as most of the sales were still domestic. Although as the quality control increased throughout the 1950s, more and more Western European countries started warming up to the cars. That also meant that the new car would have to be slightly more international, and trendy.

But the moderate size (and size of the income) of Salon also meant that the new car had to be developed on a budget. As the 518 wasn’t completely outdated when it came to engineering, it was decided that the car would be made using a slightly stretched 518 chassis, and the engines would be taken from existing car models. The front suspension design was borrowed from the 1425 though, to make the car feel more upmarket drivability-wise compared to the older small car models.



The end result was the Salon Petit, a car that was marketed to be an “honest small car”, also implied in the name, as Petit is just “small” in french. Advertisements of course focused mostly on “petit” running costs, turning circle and fuel consumption.

With the new naming system, also came new trim naming systems getting rid of the old single-letter trim names. Now the base model would be known as the Special, mid-spec would be called Deluxe, and the top of the line model was the “Super”. This all was made to appeal the more competitive Western European market.



Despite mostly being an older car underneath, the Petit received a very warm welcome. Reviewers praised the Petit for it’s nimble handling, roomy interior and modern-looking exterior design. Despite that, they weren’t pleased by rather high amounts of body roll, excessive interior noise, and the poor performance in snow. As the new petit used much smaller wheels than the previous cars, it couldn’t “cut through” snow as well as the 923 or 518.

The engines were also criticized. Mostly the 700cc engine of the base model, as it had a significant lack of torque, so the driver could expect the car to slow down by quite a lot in a steep uphill. The larger engines borrowed from the 923 fixed this problem for the most part though. In fact, the top of the line Petit with the 50hp 1100cc engine was actually deemed to be quite a quick car, and paired with the nimble handling, it was quite a fun car for a moderately low price.



Despite the Petit’s drawbacks, it managed to finally bring Salon on the map, as it proved to be popular throughout West Europe. By the mid 1960s, a moderate amount of the Petits were shipped over to United States as well, rivalling the Volkswagen Beetles that had formed a culture of their own in the country.

The first generation Salon Petit was only sold as a 2-door sedan, never receiving any sort of a facelift, as it was supposed to be phased out by 1969 alongside the smaller and older 518. But, due to production and design issues with the second generation Petit that was a new car ground-up, the production had to continue until 1973 until the replacement was available.

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Hello everyone!
So, I have plans to make a new post for a 1961 model year car, but currently I have two choices for that year, and would love to hear your opinion on which you’d like to see first.

I have set up a poll, so vote for the car you’d personally like to see first!

  • A small economy coupe
  • A proper van

0 voters

Now that the poll has run for 10 days, the results show that van seems to be the more popular choice.
On that note, expect to see some lore of this van soon!

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Salon PA22

1961-1967

The van that couldn't



Engines:
48hp 1.4L OHV B4
63hp 1.8L OHV B4
75hp 2.0L OHV B4

Gearboxes:
4-speed manual

Weight:
842-1015kg

Chassis:
Steel Ladder
Steel panels
Double Wishbone front suspension
Solid Axle Leaf rear suspension

Driving wheels:
Front
Rear



In the late 1950s with the release of Salon 1425 work vehicles, it was clear that customers in the domestic market wanted to buy a proper work vehicle that was both well-built and cheap. At this time the market was filled with mostly eastern-bloc work vehicles mostly due to the import restrictions, but some western-european models were available for people to buy as well.

Especially the sales of 1425 vans were quite strong, so it was decided that the company needed a proper van that wasn’t based on an existing car platform. The budget was still rather limited, so the parts bin would have to be utilized heavily. The clearest example would be the drivetrain, as creating a completely new lineup of large engines would have been far too costly for the small car company that had very little market presence outside of Finland before the Petit was released.



Just like the 1425 though, the van would be available in different bodystyles, in this case as a pickup, panel van, and a passenger van/minibus. And like the 1425, the new van would be offered in both FWD and RWD variants, to please different market segments. It was thought that front-wheel drive would be popular within the passenger van crowd, as it would offer a driving experience closer to a passenger car, at least to one made by Salon.

The van was set to be released in 1960, but production complications delayed the release to the 1961 model year. Official model name of the van would be PA22, but people usually used one of the nicknames the van had, some of them being more negative than others.



Negativity towards the van wouldn’t stop at nicknames. The reviewers weren’t very kind on the new model, calling it exceptionally noisy, ugly, and unstable to drive. One of the largest concerns was the tall center of gravity, which made the van not exactly flip-proof. Reviewers also found the steering to be prone to heavy understeering on the front-drive models, and the engines taken from the existing cars were deemed rather gutless, and only the 2.0L variant was said to be of any use when it came to hauling any remotely heavy loads. Highway speeds with the smaller engines were only possible in theory.

Nevertheless, the new model wasn’t a complete flop for the first few years, as the amount of choices was quite limited anyways, and the van was moderately affordable. And as it was built on tried and tested engineering, it was reliable, parts were easy to find and mechanics knew how to work on them. The fact that the van was not built in a communist country was also appealing to quite a few customers in the domestic market. It was also not an uncommon sight to see a PA22 around the town as a police van, ambulance or a mailvan.



What would doom the van for good though, would be the release of the Ford Transit. As import restrictions were lifted in 1963, the Transits were easily available for people to buy in 1965, and in comparison the old-fashioned van from Salon was starting to look like an even worse deal than before. The Salon van wasn’t much cheaper than the Transit, so of course, the sales took a massive nosedive. Production ended in 1967, and even then the remaining vans had to be sold with discounts to get them off the lots.

The end of production was perhaps for the best, as it was later discovered that the van was incredibly unsafe due to the seating position that was in front of the front axle, and the lack of any thought put into passenger safety, meaning that in the event of a crash, the van would crumple like a soda can.

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I owned a 1971 Hanomag F20 once upon a time, I expect this to be about as horrible, haha :smiley: