There is scarcely a more iconic or quirky car ever built than the venerable Saab Model 96. When introduced in1960 it sported many innovations, including the then-rare front wheel drive, making it a favorite in New England and other snow-bound regions. The monocoque construction was also innovative for its time, when most American cars were still constructed in the old, squeak-prone body-on-frame design. Although the latest versions of the Model 96 sported V4 4-stroke engines (1868-1980), by far the most unique and most desirable models (prior to 1968) were outfitted with Saab’s incredible 850cc 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine, which is the engine in this car for sale.
Literally hundreds of thousands of Model 96’s were built during the model run, but sadly, most have been relegated to being parked behind the barn and consumed by the tin worm. Accordingly, you almost NEVER see a Model 96 offered for sale in the normal on-line channels (including eBay). Usually ownership just passes quietly between one Saab enthusiast and another.
This particular example is an exception to the ‘rust-bucket” standard, the metal being very solid both outside and underneath. The floor panels, usually the first to go, are in perfect condition (see photos from inside and below the car).
I have owned some 50 cars in my lifetime, many of them classics. Usually my M.O. is to restore each to its original condition. But when I acquired this special car, something just told me that leaving the original patina of the exterior paint would be the best way to display this solid little car.
It always attracts positive attention anywhere I go, and all my car-guy friends urge me to leave the paint finish as is.. I have complied.
A previous owner had performed a few amateur Bondo repairs to mask some minor dings in the exterior (hence the spotted primer areas). Now some of that Bondo is cracking a bit around the edges, making it appear that there are cracks in the metal, when in fact, it is just the thin layer of applied Bondo cracking.
Should the new owner want a “show car”, a day spent sanding and repairing those minor dents, followed by a $1,000 Econopaint job, would yield a beautiful car (I have priced this car considering this potential expense for the next owner). But, personally I prefer it exactly as it is, and will leave that decision to the next owner.
This particular car has been in my hands for 3 or 4 years, and has served as my daily driver (13 miles each way) on many occasions, providing me with economical transportation and one of the most enjoyable driving experiences I have ever known.
The 2-cycle engine was rebuilt just prior to my acquisition by noted Saab 2-stroke expert Bud Clark (well known throughout the Saab community). This engine is the last iteration of the 3 cylinder versions, and is equipped with the triple carburetor option. It starts right up every time, and after warm up, is eager to cruise effortlessly down the road at 70 mph. Just don’t expect neck-snapping acceleration from the stop light!
I love the “4-on-the-tree” shifter mechanism.. there is not a more logical place to have the shift lever than right where you hand already rests.
But, my favorite feature of the car is Saab’s “freewheeling” mechanism. Any time you take your foot off the gas pedal, the transmission automatically disconnects itself from the engine, letting the engine speed reduce to idle. Then you can shift easily into ANY forward gear WITHOUT having to depress the clutch. I only use the clutch for startup from a standstill, and again when coming to a dead stop. At all other times, I shift smoothly and effortlessly without using the clutch. Try THAT in your Boss Mustang!
The rack-and-pinion steering on this car provides precise, light steering without a smidge of free play. In fact, this car is built so solidly, and handles so well, that noted Saab Rally driver Erik Carlsson (recently deceased), won several International Rally Championships in just such a car, beating out numerous other marques equipped with much higher horsepower engines.
Since I have owned the car, I have completed the following repairs/modifications: • Installed new OEM style electric dash clock • Had the windshield wiper motor rebuilt • Replaced starter with rebuilt one • New Exhaust header, tail pipe, and muffler • Installed front disc brakes from Saab 95 (wagon), vastly improving braking ability • New brake shoes in rear, new pads and discs in front • New tierod ends • New drive axle boots • Radiator removed and rodded out • New industry standard alternator installed • New rebuilt engine driven fuel pump AND switched electric pump for starting/priming • New front seat upholstery to match the rear • New modern radio with USB and Bluetooth, in the original glove box radio opening • New Antenna • Near new tires • New rubber floor mat • New wipers • Installed custom-designed air conditioning unit (see below)
As noted above, I designed and fabricated a custom air conditioner compressor mount for the Saab, and installed a complete system. The A/C works quite well, and will freeze you out of the car. Unfortunately, I found that the extra effort the engine had to make to drive the compressor caused it to overheat during those torrid Texas August summers, so I finally quit using it in respect for the engine (the system is still intact and complete, but I have removed the drive belt for the compressor)
Some people ask if it is cumbersome to drive a 2-stroke engine (which requires lubricating oil to be mixed with the gasoline). I mention that one of the advantages is you never get an engine oil leak, since there IS no oil nor “crankcase” in the traditional sense. The engine has only 7 moving parts… there are no valves, so it is impossible to “over-rev” the engine. And the procedure at the filling station couldn’t be simpler: 1) Fill up your tank, and take note of gallons dispensed 2) Using the graduated bottle I keep in the trunk, fill it to the appropriate gallon mark with 2 cycle oil 3) Pour the oil in the gas tank, and you are done!
I buy my 2 cycle oil from Amazon (free shipping) in one gallon containers, each of which lasts me for several months, so the overall cost is negligible, and I just keep one gallon in the trunk at all times.
Over the years, I have owned every type of exotic and classic car you could name, including Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Lotus, Jaguar, Ferrari, Mercedes… and I can say without reservation that this little Saab gives me as much driving pleasure as any car I’ve owned, AND it gets more attention at the gas station and grocery store parking lot than most anything else!
Sadly, though, my lifelong short attention span has led to recent acquisition of a classic Mini Cooper, as well as a beautiful little Nissan Figaro, and in recent months, those cars have received my attention as daily drivers.
I now have to ask my wife to park her BMW outside so I can keep the Saab garaged, and she is not thrilled about that. Therefore, I must reluctantly part with my old friend, knowing the next owner will derive as much pleasure as I have from this incredible Saab Model 96 (registered as a 1968, but most experts agree this was a 1967 model).
The car comes with the original owner's manual, including a detail fillup-by-fillup written log by original owner, as well as a third party shop manual.
Please take a few minutes to view the video I shot a year ago using this exact car:
Finally, I have posted additional photos, including shots from underneath, as well as the floorwells and trunk area.
Saab 96 Photos
As with any of my listings, I offer a full refund within 7 days if for any reason the buyer is not satisfied after inspecting the car.
Questions? Feel free to call me: Phil 1 512 517-0055 Central Time Zone. I will consider reasonable offers near the posted price, but will not respond to insulting low-ball offers.
|VIN (Vehicle Identification Number):||440178||Mileage:||3,383|
|Number of Cylinders:||3||Make:||Saab|
|Body Type:||Coupe||Engine:||848cc 3 cylinder|
|Warranty:||Vehicle does NOT have an existing warranty||Drive Type:||FWD|
|Vehicle Title:||Clear||Fuel Type:||Gasoline|
|Exterior Color:||Blue||For Sale By:||Private Seller|
|Interior Color:||Blue||Drive Side:||Left-hand drive|