Cheap Project: 1970 SAAB 95 Wagon For $1,500

This 1970 Saab 95 wagon is a project car that poses a far-too-common conundrum of parting out or restoring. The Saab is a complete car that runs and drives and whose sole mechanical fault it said to be a faulty horn. However, the extent of rust issues in the body and elsewhere is preventing the current owner from continuing any further with it. Find the Saab here on craigslist in Newfield, Maine, for $1,500.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find. The wagon variant of Saab’s oddball presents an interesting assortment of styling cues, such as the big fins out back with bulbous taillights, and the gigantic mudflaps with Saab’s jet heritage proudly on display. To find this car parked by a lake in Maine is about as quintessential New England as you can get, and the abundance of rust is all too ironic.

The Saab’s interior appears to be in great shape, with some mild splits in the seats and some aftermarket speakers installed in the door panels. The dash is complete and doesn’t appear too badly cracked, and the huge Saab steering wheel is factory-correct. The backseat looks even better than the front buckets, and the Saab even has a tiny rear-facing third row in the storage compartment.

Rust is noted in the rocker seams, right rear quarter panel, and driver’s footwell. The seller bought the car knowing that it had these issues, but over-estimated just how much time he’d have to tackle them. I wouldn’t say this 95 is past rescuing, but its low value hurts its chances at someone wanting to put in the time to extract all the rust. Would you restore or part out this vintage 95 wagon?


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  1. Sam61

    The recent post of the Ford wagon on a Buick frame/running gear got me thinking.

    Buy an older Prius, new battery pack, skin the Saab wagon panels onto the Prius uni-body.

    Yes it would be a lot of work and require an above average skill to pull off. What the heck you be the proud owner of a Priab or Saabus.

    Like 5
    • On and On On and On Member

      In grade school in the late 50’s the nuns used to say that an idle mind is the devils workshop. Can’t figure out why that comes to mind now Sam61……………..LOL……..Actually I think thats a cool idea. Classic cars on modern electric or hybrid platform…….Hmmmmm if I was younger that might be a great business idea.

      Like 3
  2. Chebby Staff

    Does everything need to be restored? Here’s an idea: just drive a rusty Saab. It’s a weird quirky car that isn’t worth much, in an ugly color. It’s not going to be worth much more in the near future, so slap a little Bondo and paint on there if you like, and buy yourself a few more years. Unless there are dangerous structural problems, just enjoy it until it’s all used up, then move on without guilt.

    Like 15
    • David F

      Great idea, especially if you live where the sun shines and the rust doesn’t. Perhaps a rust free example needing the mechanicals might be found eventually.

  3. art

    Chebby might be right. If this car is kept on back roads for short trips in a quiet place like Newfield, Maine it would be fine. I would not, however drive this little car at fast speeds, on a freeway, or in major traffic. An accident in this poor thing could be ugly. Just check out the underside carefully and if it looks like it will survive hitting a pothole, lol, just enjoy it for what it is…a grocery getter.
    Quirky for sure and you can bet, no one else in town has one.

    Like 5
  4. Hasse B.

    Spot on about accidents – it can get really nasty in one of those, I´d say a Beetle is maybe even safer (er… well…) to crash head-on in. On the other hand, their roadworthiness was really good compared to much else when they came out.

    Always a great backroads runner or full-on rallye car (96) and those were built up ´til the end of the seventies (the basic front suspension design was carried over to the 99/900 series). Some was even used as police cars. If the rust hasn´t crept too far into the structure, it might be worth the bother. The thickness used was 0.84 milimetres to 2.5 milimetres depending on what part, to keep strength to the maximum but the weight low, in true aircraft fashion. It has been said that new floor pans are avaible over here in Europe, most of the other stuff you propably need to fabricate.

    As it happens, i´ve got a classic car magazine with a buyers guide at hand: Check for rust especially at the corners of the floor pan, all shock mounts, the rear wheel wells traps a lot of dirt, the front wheel wells are boxed with double walls of sheet metal, moist gets caught in the bottom end of the front roof posts, In the compartment below the front window and in the crossmember (now where´s that… been decades since i scrapped one of those). And the front side marker lights might be rusted loose. Oh, and check the bottoms of the doors. And change the rubber mats in the seat bottoms if they feel soggy or they WILL snap sometime. Some parts can still be sourced from swedish speedshops, can´t say if any delivers to the USA, though.

    The Ford Cologne V4 (same family as used in the Ford Taunus 12M/15M produced until 1970) is built tough but the fiber gears for the camshaft not so much and you won´t find any new balance shafts so have them resurfaced with new metal and machined back to specs if they´re worn down. Some other engine parts are shared with the Cologne V6 used in the (pre-Fox body) Capri.

    Like 7
    • Puhnto

      These were SO much safer than a VW in a collision. The Saab 95 had crumple zones in the front and rear. The front is designed so the engine goes under the passenger compartment instead of into it. The rear crumples without intruding on the small two-passenger seat at the rear. These were wonderful little cars. (From someone who’s had both a Saab 95 and a VW Beetle.)

      Like 4
  5. Ed

    A Saab of this vintage is always a good choice if you have to be in an accident. These cars were raced on ice and in lengthy rallies. They were one of the first cars to have three-way safety belts. They’re made out of real steel.

    Like 4
  6. Steve

    Saabs have always been known for safety. Not sure about this particular Saab. It’ll depend on where the rot is but an un-rusted 95 is going to be way safer than an un-rusted VW Beetle in any form of accident. These also do not have rubber seat bottoms. There are interlocking metal springs under the foam.

    Like 2
  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I used to know someone who had a Saab like this when I was a boy.

    Like 1
  8. Stevieg

    I would do EXACTLY what Chebby said. Even though I am broke & it is a long ways from here, I am tempted. Tomorrow is pay day…let’s see what bills I can put off lol!

    Like 1
  9. Hasse B.

    Ed, Steve – You just might be right; my assumption was based on a single lethal highway accident involving a microbus that practically shortened the Saab to the windshield, catching fire all thru, no survivors. The seats… perhaps I mixed them up with the 99´s seats (as said, it was a long time since I wrenched on either kind and just a few) which in the seventies had sort of a stretchable rubber mat in the bottom, prone to drying out and getting brittle if You used the seat warmer a lot (winters can be really cold here, at worst like alaskan I guess). The 95/96 got similar more comfortable seats in the early seventies with the built-in seat warmers so my guess is that the featured car has the older kind but propably not the later ones,

    Come to think of it – on the subject of spare parts, a few pieces in the engine are also said to be shared with early Ford Windsor V8´s as the V4 was initally developed in relation with it (as well as the english Essex V4/V6, but that one´s less related to any of them). As Saab closed the deal with Ford to start buying the V4 from the german Ford engine plant, they also took on the task of sorting out the jinxes (especially the overheating issues) of the original design introduced in 1962, leaving it a much better engine. The parts interchangeability with the Cologne V6 stops with the 2.6L as far as I know.

    The good folks at Ford set a rather cautious recommendation for enhancing the power output, limited at around some 110 PS or so (about the same horsepower count in SAE Net) but rather many swedish Saab rallye guys has claimed to have pushed the 1700 version up to around the 130 PS mark with Saab factory speed parts, still holding it together in competition runs. Rumours have it that Saab´s company technicians tried stretching it even farther (in the neighbourhood of 150-160 PS at the most), with more ingenuity and sturdier parts, but then they usually started disintegrating.

    Like 2
  10. Hasse B.

    Just happened to stumble upon a magazine ad for a swedish parts retailer dedicated to Saab cars, anyone looking for spares, vintage or newer, might want to check them out: (the site language can be changed to english, scroll down to change settings).

    Like 1

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