Even The Clock Works! 1969 Saab 96 Deluxe

It’s hard to believe that the Saab 96 was still being produced during the same era that the space shuttle was in production, and it went away just a year before the first shuttle flight in 1981. It seems like such a vintage design, which is part of the charm for me. This fully-functional-down-to-the-dash-clock 1969 Saab 96 Deluxe is posted here on craigslist in Pullman, Washington, and the seller is asking $3,900. Here is the original listing, and thanks to T.J. for sending in this tip!

The 96 was made between 1960 and 1980. There are a lot of waves and/or wrinkles in this car and we don’t know if that’s bodywork, dents, or just age, but the seller does say that it has some areas of minor rust that have all been repaired. Was that rust cut out and new metal welded in, or just body putty put over the rust? I’m guessing the former, but who knows.

However the rust was repaired, this car is $900 under Hagerty’s lowest value, a #4 fair condition value of $4,800, and it sure looks good to me. They’re at $10,500 for a #3 good-condition car, so there’s some room for any possible body or other repairs here. This is such an iconic (sorry, but it is!) design, and we all know that Saab offered this car in a two-door wagon called the 95, but they never made a four-door sedan. I’ve always wondered what one might look like… hmmm… (here’s a quick Photoshop version)

I’m surprised at how good this car looks for the money. There are a few issues with the seats and a big crack in the padded dash, but otherwise, it looks solid inside. I would sure like to see photos of the underside of this car, though. There’s some heavy surface rust showing up in the wheel wells and other underbody bits on some of the photos. For a nice, driver-quality car, I can’t see how a person can go wrong here. The $1,500 in shipping costs would be a drag, though.

The engine and engine compartment both look much better than I expected. This is a Ford Taunus-sourced 1.5-liter OHV V4, which would have had 64 net horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque. The seller says that this car runs and drives great and everything works, right down the clock on the dash. This is a very tempting car for this price. Any thoughts on this one – good buy or goodbye?


  1. Howard A Member

    Hey, my clock works in my old Jeep. Sheesh, the bottom sure fell out of these, eh? Not long ago, it seemed every Saab survivor was $10grand. Saabs are great cars, highly under rated. Anyone that’s had one will tell you. To be clear, the 96 with the V4 came out in ’67, and was, I feel, a stark improvement over the ring-ding. And look at the heater, it’s as big as the motor. Saabs had great heaters. I’m with Scotty, this would be mine, if I actually had some place to go these days. The fact this is even still here, tells me, like the Corolla, people today really don’t know a good value when it hits them in the face. Somebody will get a nice car, if it doesn’t sell, we’re in worse shape than I thought.

    Like 11
  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    This is a great deal for a great little Saab. Even without the included spares

    Like 8
  3. Puhnto

    Excellent buy for a great little car! If that was here in Massachusetts I would have already bought it!

    Like 4
  4. Slomoogee

    I think this is a great car for a great price.Would love to be the new owner, but with 4 cars now…..I’m the crazy old man on the block.

    Like 4
  5. mike

    These were fun driving cars.Great in snow with proper snow tyres.I worry about the rust repair for they do rust.And being in Washington state were they do get a lot of rain and snow.

    Like 2
  6. Robin Tomlin

    Waay back across the pond, I bought one of these for one hundred and twenty five quid. That was a heck of a deal then and this one heck of a deal now.

    Like 2
  7. Solosolo Solosolo Member

    The photo shopped four door doesn’t look bad either Scotty, I prefer the looks to the two door original.

    Like 3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Solosolo! I didn’t think that anyone clicked on those photoshop things.

      • Solosolo Solosolo Member

        Scotty, I follow every link on BF except anything relating to Ford Model A’s.

  8. Car Nut Tacoma Washington

    Beautiful looking car. It’s nice to see a well cared for original survivor. I had a neighbour when I was a boy who had one like this.

    Like 2
  9. Eric

    I have two of these… they’re the most fun to drive for the money if you can find one. Agree with a prior comment that if this was on the east coast and even a few thousand $$ more, it would already be sold.

    Like 3
  10. Jeff Lannigan

    I’m the seller. This car has spent its life on the dry side of Washington and is very solid, photos of the underside can be available upon request. I welded in the very few small patches, no shenanigans involved. The car runs and drives excellent, just needs a few things (like tires) to be a driver.

    Like 8
  11. steve

    But it’s a FORD engine! Tanus? Sure…which, for that use, was unbolted from an irrigation pump/air compressor/welder. Can you say “industrial engine”?.
    Sure, unbreakable, but it should be for the weight. I’m not a SAAB guy and REALLY not a 2-Stroke guy but that lump in that car? It killed the whole concept of the machine. It’s if Ford had pulled the V8 version of the early Mustang and installed a 4 cylinder Perkins diesel. That would be an INTERSTING car but…. In support of the seller it is a nice car for being what it is and SOMEBODY is going to have a lot of fun with it.

    Like 1
  12. steve

    and..yes..I have driven several examples of both..

    Like 1
  13. GOM

    We had several 96’s all of which had the V4 engines. An industrial design, perhaps, but well suited to the utilitarian nature of a SAAB of that vintage. We had them because they were reliable, practical, and durable. The only thing that killed them here in the Northeast was the eventual structural rust issues. For those of us who view our vehicles as tools and not extensions of our egos, the V4 engine was ideal because it was simple and indestructible.

    Like 1
  14. Ronald A. Goetzinger

    Steve, you may have driven both the 3- and 4- cylinder 96’s. You just never fell under their spell. Different strokes (2- cycle vs. 4- cycle) for different folks! Too bad for you. lol

    Like 1
  15. steve

    Anyone using a SAAB 96 as an extension of their ego should spend a long time “on the couch” discussing their troubled childhood…
    Again, not one thing WRONG with the super heavy lump of cast iron out in front of the centerline of the front wheels, but it did totally change the character of the car. I mean VALVES for goodness sake! and OIL CHANGES!? That alone is enough to make even those of good Scandinavian stock to swoon…A PROPER SAAB changes the oil on every stroke!

    Like 1
    • George

      Steve is this the same who lives in Prescott now and drives a two stroke? If it’s not I found your misplaced twin. The V4 was a solid engine , lots of parts available since Ford sold that for tractor production.

      Not powerful but indestructible.

      Like 1
    • GOM

      Points well taken. I would have preferred the two strokes to our V4’s, but you couldn’t buy a new two stroke when we started with SAAB’s, and used ones were about non-existent in our neck of the woods. Still, the V4’s served us faithfully.

      Like 1
    • jwaltb

      What a whiner…

  16. Tony T

    “And being in Washington state were they do get a lot of rain and snow.” Pullman is on the east side of the state: semi-desert. I spent 4 years at WSU: not “a lot of rain and snow.”

    Like 1
  17. OttoNobedder

    These are great cars in ice and snow(Sweden, DUH) I owned quite a few when the 2-strokes were plentiful. Even car-camped in a model 95 Wagon for a P.N.W. road trip. V-4 were more torquey than 3 cyl, but it was a bad trade-off, as the V-4 s were too much for the transaxle to handle. The Free-wheel was great for a few extra m.p.g. I dont know of another vehicle with one?

    Like 1
  18. steve

    Freewheels were offered on early American cars. The SAAB used one because you didn’t want to be going down a LONG hill with the throttle (and therefore the OIL) shut off. However, US DOT regulations prohibited freewheel units a long time ago. Just like it’s illegal in most states to coast out of gear. Something about maintaining vehicle control etc. Soooo.. the US spec cars didn’t have the freewheel…errr…OK…the selector cable was simply cut to make them compliant. SAAB owners went to the dealer to buy a new cable and install it. Funny thing, dealers stocking parts that weren’t supposed to be on US cars….Anyway, I never noticed if the 4 cylinder cars still had the capability.

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma Washington

      Why were they illegal for US market cars?

      Like 1
    • Puhnto

      My 1968 Saab 95 V-4 had freewheeling. It worked great!

      Like 1
      • Car Nut Tacoma Washington

        What exactly does that mean “freewheeling”?

        Like 1
  19. steve

    Freewheel is more correctly an “Overrunning clutch” . When the crankshaft is supplying power, the clutch locks and transmits power to the gearbox/wheels. Take your foot off and the crank slows, the clutch unlocks and the crankshaft and wheels are now disconnected. The engine can drop to an idle as the car rolls along (with no engine resistance or “engine braking”). The 2 stroke engines in the early SABB’s used a gas/oil mixture. If you close the throttle you cut off not only the air and fuel but the oil to the engine! Prolonged high rpm while going long hills could, would, and did, cause the engine to be damaged or even lock up due to the lack of lubrication. The selectablity was due to SHORT bits of engine braking being OK. Think “city driving”. One of the improvements that companies like Yamaha did with their 2 stroke bike engines was to have a metering pump for the oil injection (No pre-mixing! You had a fuel tank and an oil tank) The metering pump used both throttle setting AND RPM to determine how much oil was injected into the intake. You’re at high RPM going down a hill with the throttle closed? you’re still getting oil! I don’t know if SAAB ever adopted such a thing. As to why things like freewheels or coasting down hills out of gear are illegal? I have no idea. It was supposed to be a safety issue. I suspect that if the 4-stroke cars still had the feature, it was really just a “we build them this way” left over as they didn’t NEED the freewheel. Yes, in hilly country, you’d get a bit better fuel mileage as with the carburetors, being in a overrun condition you’d get super low manifold pressure which just sucked the fuel though the idle jets. Later cars had throttle positioners to prevent that low pressure (or “high vacuum” if you prefer) for emissions if not MPG

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma Washington

      Thank you! That’s what I wanted to know.

      Like 1
  20. steve

    Some thoughts on the legality of freewheels/coasting. Cars had mechanical or single-circuit hydraulic brake AND often non-synchromesh transmissions. Go zinging down a hill to find you had no brakes and were unable to engage a gear. Even today you see the signs for trucks to select a lower gear when going down certain grades. Even on hybrid/full electric cars there is dynamic braking available. SAAB had a real need for the freewheel. They did also have to comply with US regs. SAAB being a “Thinking man’s” car (WHAT they were thinking is beyond me..) meant that I suspect few owners who reactivated the freewheel were ever foolish with them.

    Like 1
  21. Car Nut Tacoma

    If only more photos of the car were posted on Craigslist. IMHO, the more pics they can show, the better.

    Like 1
  22. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    I literally can not believe that this beautiful car is still for sale!

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