41k Genuine Miles: 1966 Saab 96

If you go searching around the internet, you will find a substantial amount of recent footage from various Scandinavian rally championships. What is astonishing in this footage is the number of Saabs the same as this Saab 96 that are still competing, and they are not being disgraced in their efforts. This 1966 Saab 96, which is located in Danville, Illinois, is claimed to have covered a genuine 41,000 miles, so it should still have a lot of life left in it yet. You will find it listed for sale here on eBay.

The seller has owned the Saab since 1997 when he purchased it off the original owner. During his ownership, the car appears to have been meticulously cared for. The owner says that the car is not perfect, but that it is an original survivor that hasn’t seen rain or snow since he’s owned it. The panels and paint look to be really good, with a scrape behind the passenger side rear wheel arch being the most obvious problem. There is also some rust present in the car, but this seems to be quite minor. The thing that has always attracted me to Saab is that despite the fact that their cars were always quirky or unusual, they never seemed to be able to produce a truly unattractive car.

Powering the 96 is a 1.7l V4 engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. The engine in the car isn’t original, having started life in a 1972 model. The current owner believes that the engine was upgraded in a bid to increase horsepower. The original engine, which has been tested and runs well, is also included in the sale, as is a spare transmission. The car has also recently received some significant maintenance, including the fitting of new clutch master and slave cylinder, a new fuel pump, all new hoses, and fuel line, plus sundry other work. There are also numerous other spares that are included with the car, and when combined with the spare engine and transmission, they represent a spares cache worth around $3,000.

The dash pad looks a bit warped and sad, and the upholstery on the driver’s seat is stretched, but otherwise, the interior looks really good. While he doesn’t actually mention it, I also believe that the covers on the seats aren’t original, as they should match the door trims, which do look to be right. It may not give the impression at first glance, but those rather flat looking seats are surprisingly comfortable and supportive, and when combined with the great standard suspension, are capable of absorbing the roughest of bumps.

As I said earlier, Saab produced some of the most unusual and quirky cars ever seen, but the cars that they produced were as tough as nails. This one isn’t perfect, but it looks like it has a lot of years left in it, and at the time of writing, bidding is sitting at $4,350. While Saab in its original form has disappeared into the pages of history, there still remains a good supply of parts and spares available through various sources. That will make it relatively easy to keep cars like this on the road for many decades to come.

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  1. PocketRocket

    Question for Saab enthusiast,engine originally fitted to a 1966 96,was that a 2 stroke,was not dis-closed in the listing?

    Like 1
    • RayT Member

      I always thought Saabs of this vintage had three-poppers, too. I’m more familiar with the first-gen cars with the narrower front end, which all had the two-stroke threes….

      Don’t remember any identifying features that distinguish the two versions.

      • Eric_13cars Eric_10cars Member

        My first car was a 1966 Saab 96. I can attest that the original engine was a 2-stroke 3 cylinder model (you put a 1/2 quart to a quart of oil into the gas tank with each fill up…I used the Saab 2-stroke oil in mine religiously). The v4 Ford (I believe) engine didn’t appear until late 1967 or 1968.

        The hood on this one pops up in the front and then slides forward over the grill and then opens from the rear. The earlier models had the hood and grill connected in one piece and tilted forward from just above the front bumper.

        I drove mine for a couple of years until a gasoline jockey in New Jersey (you still can’t pump your own gas in NJ) failed to put all of the oil from the can into the gas tank. The engine seized at 65mph on I-80 around Patterson, NJ. Fortunately, the free-wheel was working and I still have my feet and ankles. It was a very well-made and well-engineered car. It was seriously underpowered and the front drum brakes on my ’66 were not great, but the fit and finish were excellent. The seats were cloth and matched the door cards and were very comfortable on long rides. 4 speed column shift with reverse being strange – pull lever out, back, and down. The v4 was a much better choice and I think they later added front disk brakes. I’d love to find another one for a decent price.

        Like 6
    • Rex Fox

      Agree with the others; this came with a 3 cylinder two stroke if it’s a ‘66. My 2nd car (purchased in ‘72) was a ‘67 and it had the two stroke. It was bit of a drag because to put a full can of Saab oil in the gas and have the right mix, you had to wait until the tank was almost empty. This was before screw on lids and plastic oil bottles.

      Like 3
  2. DayDreamBeliever Member

    The seller states that this was the first year of the V4 option. I have no personal precise knowledge of that, but it sounds right. If you really want to have fun, there are V6 options which can be installed in place of the 4! Just remember though, that the longer the engine, the more the weight increases towards the front bumper. Too far out and the rear axle gets pretty light! :-D

    Like 1
  3. Peter

    Great car. I had one with a two-stroke engine. It was great fun to drive and had a huge heater and a big truck with a flat floor.

    Like 3
  4. RetroGreg Member

    per Wiki ” From model year 1967 it(2-stroke) began to be replaced with the Ford Taunus V4 engine.”
    My son has a the Saab 96 wagon below which is fun but not a real performance car …though they can be made to run quickly with the help of http://www.markashcraft.com who specializes in the V4s. Mark is located in Medford, Oregon.

    Like 7
  5. Nevis Beeman

    If you google, Wikipedia, on the history of these cars it states the V4 was introduced from 1967. In Europe, for a short period, customers had a choice …two stroke or V4. Also I believe that at the time of the change over the interior mirror moved up from dash top (as seen on this 96) to the more usual roof location, although this maybe connected to the increase in size of the windscreen which also occurred about this time.

    I’d be interested to learn if it is/was possible to convert an origional two stroke powered 96 to V4 or even vice versa !

    • local_sheriff

      Nevis; I have no personal experience with it but that’s feasible – actually that was done to several unsold 66 models by SAAB themselves.

      The conversion of a ‘pre-series’ had already taken place in 65 ; in secrecy as SAAB had yet not decided which new engine to replace the 2stroke.200 examples were made, and sold quickly. There are a few of these pre-series 96 V4s registered here in Norway, as their first registration date is September 65.

      67 was the 1st year with the V4 as standard engine,but customers could opt for the 2stroke through model year 68.In these transition years you could spot what engine was under the bonnet by looking for a ‘V4’ engine at the lower rear of the front fender. You may spot that the 66 in the ad has no emblem, so unless it’s painted at some point it means it originally was a 2stroke.

      The 96, thanks to the ‘modern’ V4 engine , was given a new lease of life enough to be in production as late as 1980. Last examples were built in Finland, not Sweden.

      2strokes are not a common sight, but I spotted one at a car show last summer so it’s not unusual that they pop-pop up now and then!

      Like 3
  6. RetroGreg Member

    try Mark – he would know 4 sure:
    Ashcraft SAAB V4 Parts

    247 E. Barnett Rd. suite 105
    Medford, OR 97501-7933
    Ph: 541-779-0731
    E-mail contact

  7. local_sheriff

    RetroGreg; that’s a cool wagon!Don’t know how it was marketed in the US, but in Europe the wagon had 95 designation.

    My granpa bought a new 96 V4 in 68 and though he had three succeeding SAABs he always missed the 96, almost regretting selling it to his dying day…!

    The 96 was indeed a popular rally vehicle in its day due to its light weight, FF config and a peppy 2stroke that liked performance mods. On the street ,SAABs were reckoned as stable winter cars – like a quality Beetle. The V4 driveline is sourced from Ford Germany’s 12m-15m models, as SAAB didn’t have the $ then to develop a new 4stroke to replace the 3cyl.Any prospective buyer should note that everything SAAB is ‘different’ than conventional cars!

    Great odd find that would look cool in classic rally outfit!

    Like 4
  8. slw71962


  9. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Finished out at $7709.
    I had not been back to the eBay listing until now, and note this additional information that the seller posted:
    On Dec-12-18 at 16:40:08 PST, seller added the following information:

    “UPDATE” Please Read

    The year is a 1967.
    The motor is a 1.7 and is out of a 1972
    The original engine is included in this auction.
    The reason i was told for the engine change, was for more horse power,and better gas millage.
    The original engine, has been tested, and runs fine.
    The car was repainted in late 70’s
    There is a small spot on the passenger side door that has some surface rust, please see the pictures.
    the only other rust is in the drivers door jam..about a inch and a half.

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