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Calling Chip: 1966 SAAB 96


Update 7/22/13 – The high bidder reneged, so this one has been relisted. Here’s your second chance guys.

From 7/16/13 – If you like old SAABs then you probably know Chip Lamb. He is an expert on these quirky Swedes. A while back I got a weird hair and decided that one of these would look good in my garage. SAABs go against everything I stand for. They are front wheel drive for goodness sake! I asked for Chip’s advice and all he said was to “find a good one because there is a lot of junk out there”. Well, we just found this one on eBay and we want to know if it’s any good.


This was the last of the two-stroke SAABs. The tiny three-cylinder was good, but it was holding sales back. Customers who did not already own a SAAB or a motorcycle did not understand why they should have to add oil to every tank of gas. It was a pain and all that smoke wasn’t very dignified either. A V4 took its place, but at the same time the 96 lost some of what made it special. The freewheeling transmission lived on for a bit, but that distinctive chainsaw exhaust note was gone.


Luckily this 1966 96 has all those attributes that made a SAAB a SAAB. We are not talking about having the ignition between the seats or some aircraft inspired gauges. We are talking about flat floors, column shifters, and a body so round that it can be flipped back onto its wheels when things get inverted.


It was a rally giant and a humble grocery hauler. It was different and that is something missing in the automotive market today. The manufacturer may have died long ago, but as long as we can keep a few of these on the road, the creative spirit of SAAB will continue to live on. So Chip, what do you have to say about this one?


  1. Mark E

    Hm, when you read the ad it would seem as if the seller rebuilt everything. BUT – admitting that he “fixed” the electrics (seller’s quotes) and the fact he does not know how to spell Sonett casts some doubt on his knowledge of all things Saab.

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  2. Pat

    Knew an old boy once that couldn’t read or write but built an airplane and could do amazing things with a flathead….. Sometimes spelling “iz” overrated.

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  3. jim

    this is going to need a PI as i do see body rust in the picture of the master cly. and the generator, i think. if what is there can be fixed and that is all of it, this would make a great driver/show car. would need to do the research to know where to look. but boy would a saab two-stroke be a fun car, with lot of hotrod parts still out there. great find

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  4. paul

    Very cool!

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    • paul

      Crap Crap Crap I just looked at all those pictures, I NEED MORE SPACE & it’s on Merritt island a couple hours, CRAP!

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      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        You had better make a spot paul! Looks like a fun driver.

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    • paul

      Oh stop already I can’t look at this anymore, I had a friend with one of these in white 2 stroker, free wheeling trans,back along time ago, this car, in this color, is just killing me.

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  5. Mark E

    As a PS: I would describe the exhaust as popcorn popper, not chain saw, but then I never pushed one to redline. Also, in my opinion anyway, underdash cassette player = WIN!! ^_^

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  6. Brian C

    I dig it. Even in one of my favorite colors for that car. Maybe a set of Minilights/Panasports. Agree. I”ve owned multiple Saab 99s, and 900s, consider myself an enthusiast,…..and not sure I would know how many Ns or Ts there should be in Sonnet(t)
    The fact that he has a Sonnet(t) windshield and owns this car,……….makes him more of a Vintage SAAB enthusiast than 99.99% of the global population immediately..(:>)

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  7. Chris A.

    Even as a FWD column shifter, these are neat cars. The Rallye version with the Recaro seats is a wonderful car. Best car I’ve ever driven in the snow. The oil wasn’t a problem once Saab went to the oil tank with the automatic oiler. Built solid too, but salt ate them quickly. Wonder if this one has the curtain that covers the radiator to keep the engine warm in winter. Quirky cars, not really, just a different approach by engineers with ideas on how a car should be made. My brother in law had three of them and they were all good cars. I hope this one finds an enthusiast.

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  8. guggie

    these were fun cars, had several, would kinda like one again!!!

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  9. Chris A.

    I’m looking at the interior shots and realized the Saab has something we don’t see anymore, namely a horn ring. Anyone else miss them? I do.

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    • Dolphin Member

      I miss the giant chrome horn rings that were on my father’s ’50s Cadillacs. They were old cars when he had them, and by that time steering wheels had gotten a bit smaller, so the horn rings looked BIG.

      Chrome horn rings are way better than some little hard-to-find press area on the vinyl on today’s steering wheels, but you have to buy old cars like this to get them today.

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  10. P Trout

    I am not usually one for Saab’s, but I just happened across this last night, and saved the link…
    Asking price is below reserve on the featured car.
    Though I must admit, I know very little about these, so I am not sure if either one of them is that great a deal….

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      That one is nice too. It’s a four-stroke though. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a little different than this oil-burner. If you want it, you had better jump on it before someone else here picks it up. $4k seems like a good deal for any running classic these days…

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  11. jim

    a source of information,cars (including a Monte Carlo) and parts

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  12. rancho bella

    I cannot for the life of me explain why I like these. I’m with Jesse…………

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  13. Dolphin Member

    To me these 2-stroke 3s have a sound a lot like an outboard, but with more pulses. We used to have an Evinrude two back when these Saabs were around, and if I listened just right I could just about hear the Evinrude when a Saab went by, and vice versa.

    I’ve driven these but never owned one. I was going to buy a friend’s but unfortunately he cracked the block when he added cold water to the cooling system when the engine was hot, and that’s as close as I came. I did enjoy the great articles that Road & Track did on these every so often years ago, including a drive they did in Eric Carlsson’s rally car, IIRC, that had great color photos of the car with all the rally decals.

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  14. Jamie Wallhauser

    This is a great car and 2-strokes are way cool! Loud, smoky and simple they lend charm to an already quirky little car and with proper maintenance will last a lifetime. Price is right on according to NADA and everything looks well enough sorted. It would be well bought at $6,500.

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  15. Knud Kristensen

    The only thing to do: BUY IT (not tomorrow but NOW)
    If it was located in Northern Europe it would be sold – to me!

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  16. AMCFAN

    Very unique. I would consider this.

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  17. Charles

    I have not seen one of these things in a number of years. When I was a kid, our neighbor had three of them, all two strokes. The one he drove the most had a bad leak in the exhaust manifold. It sounded like a mad bumble bee. Sorta nerdy, but cool also! We drove Pontiacs, but tinkered with Isetta’s so we never had any first hand experience with a Saab. This one looks nice. I hope it gets a good home.

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  18. Chris A.

    Once warmed up, they really weren’t smokey much at all. Very smooth running as I guess a 2 cycle 3 is balanced like an inline 6. Once up to speed (and that took some time) they were quiet as there was little wind noise,the cabin had plenty of room and you didn’t get blown around like with a VW. With that oil in the exhaust, I don’t remember my brother in law’s Saabs ever having to replace rusted out mufflers. With a growing family, I needed more trunk space but stayed Swedish with Volvo 240s, etc. But this one is really tempting.

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  19. jim

    and it just sold. i hope the new owner is on this site and keeps us updated.

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  20. jim

    and it has been relisted!!!

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  21. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Ironically, we picked a Saab that Chip cannot comment on for professional reasons. Maybe next time…

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  22. Per Ahlstrom

    Had one of those in my youth. Very Saabish. In those days it was expensive to run compared to other cars, as the oil made the fuel more expensive than for comparative four-strokes. I actually liked the V4 I had better.
    But the 2-stroke has an advantage that few cars can match. If the car behind you gets too close – just pull the choke and the driver behind you will choke.

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    • Charles

      Too Funny!

      Back in the old days a lot of the small European cars were two strokes. There were others, but I can’t think of the names right now.

      Messerschmitt is one that comes to mind.

      We have a two stroke boat engine. The engine does not like the new E-10 gasolines very well. The fuel seems to react to the oil and phase separation occurs quickly. Thankfully we still have a couple of stations that sell 100% gas.

      I wonder if the two stroke Sabbs do any better?

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