Bargain Basement Find: 1968 Saab 96 Deluxe

Saab built the Model 96 for 20 years beginning in 1960. It originally had a little 38 horsepower “corn popper” 2 stroke engine that was available until 1968. They were reliable but the little 2 stroke engines had their drawbacks, which could destroy the engine. The early cars did not have oil injection so you had to remember to manually add the right amount of oil to the gasoline. Also, drivers couldn’t use engine braking because the engine was not lubricated except by the oil in the gasoline. At high RPMs, with the throttle closed the engine doesn’t get enough lubrication. When going downhill the driver had to remember to pull a T handle to engage freewheeling. Beginning in 1967 the Ford Taunus V4 engine was available. You will find this Saab listed here on craigslist in Anderson, South Carolina for $4,000. It has the Ford V4 engine. It had been stored in a basement until the seller purchased it. It runs and drives, but there’s no further information on its mechanical condition.

The interior is well worn but appears complete and usable. A good cleaning and repairing the front seats would really help. The wood steering wheel is one of the features of the deluxe model.

Here’s the Ford 1500 CC V4 engine. It originally had about 70 horsepower. The original carburetor has been replaced by a Weber 2 barrel downdraft carburetor. If done properly, the Weber can add as much as 12 horsepower. Hopefully, the rust showing here is not indicative of rust damage on other areas of the car.

It’s all there. Any missing trim pieces are said to be included. The price seems reasonable if there’s no serious rust and there are no serious mechanical issues. This is certainly not a car for everyone, but for Saab enthusiasts, it could a real find. There are not many of these left in good original condition. With a little work, this little car might be a nice driver for someone fond of quirky cars.

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  1. jw454

    This is one of my, “If I win the lottery” cars. I’d love to build a Rally tribute car. All stock with stickers and driving lights. Something that could be returned to stock in an afternoon.

    • Tom S.

      If I won the lottery I’d get a Nash Metropolitan and an AMC Pacer, and just lots of great stuff. My wife knows this, and she really frowns on me buying lottery tickets.

  2. Rabbit

    There was a fella who lived on NY13 between Watkins Glen & Ithaca who had a family of the early 2-stroke cars. They were a real joy to follow up & down the hills along that road.

    • rallyace

      Not to get picky, but route 13 goes between Ithaca and Elmira. It does not go to Watkins Glen. Route 79 goes over the hill between Ithaca and Rt 414 just north of Watkins Glen.

      • Rabbit

        Started in the Glen, ended up in Dryden, visiting. A good part of the trip was on 13. Just left out a few (important) details. Been a loooong time since I made that trip. (01-ish?) Or maybe it was 79. Now you’ve got me thinking…..

  3. Dolphin Member

    The early 2-stroke Saabs were the definition of quirky back when they were new, and also when they got old. They tended to congregate in small upstate college towns, where there was usually a small independent garage that could…and would….service them, often for professors who wore a lot of tweed and smoked pipes.

    No, I never was an owner. The putt-putt of the 3-cylinder engine, which let you know that these were free-wheeling drivetrains, was unique. I needed more conventional, so I went for Volvos. IIRC Volvo never made fighter planes tho, which I guess put them on a lesser plane with Saab fans.

    I have never driven this model, with the ‘big’ V4…at least big compared to the 3-cylinder 2-stroke, but I am guessing that they performed pretty well. I like the dash too, which looks like it would be more than a few steps up compared to a lot of ’60s cars.

    At a quick glance this one looks like it might be worth the $3900 asking, especially when one alternative for $3900 is the equivalent of a small portion of a rusty, non-running 912 like the one on here from the other day.

    • MSG Bob

      “on a lesser plane with Saab fans”? I see what you did there.

    • Dolphin Member

      Bingo, Bob, you got it.

      I hope others did too because that’s about as funny as I can get.

    • Otto Nobedder

      “Quirky” is being generous. I owned a few in the 70’s when they were dirt cheap to buy. On my daily commute they all would falter when the atmospheric pressure and dew point changed abrubtly-usually right when I was trying to merge on the Freeway. I liked the later ones with oil injection-no guessing how many gallons of gas the tank would accept. I still love the smell of castor oil I occasionally burned in these.

  4. Greg Black

    My dad had one of these. It will go through absolutely any amount of snow. And it did sound just like a corn popper. People thought he was crazy when he was dumping oil in the gas tank. He only paid 200 bucks for it. It had like a window shade that you would pull up in front of the radiator to warm it up quicker.

    • On and On On and On Member

      I had a Volvo 544 with the radiator warmer blind. Great idea in deep cold and warming up a cold and frozen car. Seemed like such a smart, cheap and purposeful idea. You could control engine running temperature somewhat, Lowering the curtain as things got toasty. Was great for Chicago winters.

  5. Adam T45 Staff

    I’ve always liked Swedish cars because their industry, more than any other, seemed to be able to produce interesting and quirky cars. After a life-time devotion to big Fords (Customlines, a Galaxy, T-Birds, etc.) my father’s last car was a Volvo. I’ve had a number of friends with Saabs as well. You compare them with any car from the same era and they are distinctive. Volvo continue this trend today, and it’s such a crying shame that Saab went to the wall. I wouldn’t mind this in my currently empty shed.

  6. Doyler

    I’d love to do an EV conversion and use it as a city run around in San Francisco.

    • Bobinott

      @Doyler – please, no. There are entire junkyards full of Geo Metros that would be improved by an EV conversion. Let’s leave the classics to age gracefully, sipping Dino Juice.

      Like 1
  7. Mark S.

    Buddy of mine had one just like this one. Same color too. It had the v4. If I remember right, it had a four-on-the-tree trans. A really fun car.

  8. Dean

    I had one of these years ago. A fun sporting car to drive, especially in the snow, 4 speed on the tree worked well. The V-4 Ford provided ample power. Interesting looks, I’d say it’s a fun all around car. I think the price is good if no structural problems are found. I am currently restoring a 72 Sonnet, always loved the little V-4

  9. Rube Goldberg Member

    Nice!! These are getting pricey, sounds like a good deal here. Wagons were the best, but can’t go wrong here. Got Scotty G’s name all over it!!!

  10. ROTAG999

    When i lived oversea’s there were plenty of 2 strokes Saabs around i use to frequent an Esso gas station one would pull end and always had to add oil to the mix there was a old timer who was just a drunk bum that would watch the place for the owner in case of break in @ night. Sometimes i would go pick up a bottle of cheap wine at the store for him to keep him happy i guess gas station owner had credit and became a part time job for me never got paid but was not important i was 10 years old at the time. Good memory anyway lol.

  11. Sael

    Way back when I had 1967 SAAB Monte Carlo v4 that was very much like this in color and features. Fun, very easy to work on automobiles. The Nardi steering wheel is special and early wheels are nice to see as opposed to the soccer ball wheels. I’ve never seen the Volvo like bumper guards on a Saab and the front parking lights should be all amber in color. Believe it or not the front seats are reversed, the navigator (passenger) should have the headrest. This is a good price if the underside is as rust free as the rest of the car appears to to be. Someone will have a fun ride.

    • Puhnto

      My 1968 Saab 95 didn’t have amber turn signals.

  12. Bob C.

    My brother had a girlfriend who owned one the exact same year. He needed to replace the spark plug wires and found out that 1971 Ford Pinto wires were compatible. Saved a lot of money that way.

  13. Rex Fox

    I had a 67 3 cylinder, 3 carburetor, 4 on the column, 96 that I bought off a dealer lot for $350 and sold a year later for $500. Without oil injection you had to run it down to about 1/8 tank and then add a can of Saab oil and fill it gas. It was a pain, but it was good in the snow and you could chirp the front tires in 2nd gear if you were turning. Solid car, but I wanted a bug with a sunroof, which I finally found.

  14. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking car. I had a neighbour who had one like this when I was a boy. I believe his was a navy blue colour. *At the time,* I didn’t find it attractive, not as attractive as its later successor, the 900. But when I think about later Saabs, the 2000 and later Saab 9-3, etc., I’ve come to be more interested in the classic cars of the 60s, the 70s through to the early 90s. Isn’t that weird?!

  15. Jubjub

    I’d really like to have this one if it’s as decent as it looks. My sister had Saab Shrike when I was just a little turd. Of the handful of interesting vehicles she owned, she spoke most fondly of that Saab. Too bad I just had to spend some wad on a decent lawn mower. Anybody looking for a cool TVR? I might know a guy with one he’d let go reasonably so he could free up some cash!

  16. W9BAG

    I got T-boned by one of these in 1980. I was driving a ’77 Monte Carlo. The engine fell out of the Saab, and there were injuries. IMO, not a particularly safe car. I drove the Monte away.

  17. Nevis Beeman

    Those early Saab 96 models may have had tiny “38 hp cornpopper” two stroke engines, but this did not prevent them from winning outright the famed Monte Carlo Rally, across Europe,not once but twice ! (1962/63) (it is said that a 95, the estate car version, also performed well in this rally….)

    • Suttree

      Outstanding! It’s not what the team drives it’s where they place. I’d have never dreamed this Saab would win any race against any car anywhere. BTW I like it.

  18. Puhnto

    These little V4s were great little cars. Solid as a rock, comfortable, and could cruise all day at 80 without feeling twitchy. They’re full of many little genious details most cars never had.

  19. David Miraglia

    Always liked Saab’s of any model. Love their quirkiness.

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