Money Can Buy Happiness: 1971 Saab 96

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The seller thinks the high bidders money will bring happiness to them this holiday season–or at least that’s what they say in the ad for this Saab! Our thanks to reader Jim S. for his second Saab submission this week! This is a more recent 96 than the other one–it’s a 1971, located in Godfrey, Illinois and is listed here on eBay, where bidding is currently at $2,350 with no reserve.

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These “traditional” Saabs have a very unique look. This one’s sheetmetal has been preserved in California, and is still wearing California license plates in the pictures. The seller states it has a rust-free straight body, and while I’ll bet there’s some surface corrosion somewhere, the body does look to be very nice.

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This one looks correct down to the Saab mudflaps! However, I do see what looks to be a different shade of red on the trunk lid, so I wonder if it has been damaged and resprayed. These early Saabs were made for many years, and were great little rally cars in their day.

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The interior is nowhere near as charming to me as that of the 1968 car that Jim submitted earlier. The seats and dash top will obviously need some work. You’ll also need to get the wipers working–nothing terribly difficult, I’m sure.

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Unlike the earlier car, this one has a gasoline only engine, in this case a German Ford sourced V-4. The engine compartment looks relatively nice in this car as well. I’m guessing most of this car is original as well. I’d prefer to pay a little more and get a car like this one without rust. What about you?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    No comparison. A V-4 over a “ring-ding”, any day. Anybody that’s driven a 3 cylinder Saab, knows it takes a long time to get somewhere. This was/is so much more civilized. Super deal here. I’d love to have it. It was this car, I feel, that gave Saab it’s great name. ( until it’s demise, of course)

    • RayT Member

      Actually, having driven both I prefer the “three.” I suppose a lot of that is based on emotions — which is what drives a lot of car collecting — but a car doesn’t need to be fast to be fun.

      Years and years ago, I got to drive several two-stroke Saabs out of the factory museum. Once I was reminded about the effects of free-wheeling (why didn’t that downshift slow the car down?) it was a real blast.

      • elf_jr

        The free-wheeling was to protect the engine life. If you were to downshift or let the engine slow the car, what you were really doing was revving the engine faster than the fuel with the engine lubricating oil was entering the engine. This starvation of lubrication would cause the engine to wear excessively and fail sooner.

        There was a control to engage engine braking (disabling free-wheeling), which you might want to do in limited traction times, e.g., snowy or icy weather. But you had to be very judicious in doing this to avoid early engine failure.

  2. Jason Houston

    And here I thought the last Bathtub Nash was 1951!

  3. Ethan

    Wow, beautiful car. Ever since I sold my basket case rust bucket version of this car, I’ve wanted another one in this condition. I would give it a once over and drive the hell out of it!

  4. DENIS

    Quirky little car but quite a few fans-mostly pipe-smokers. Wouldn’t be caught dead driving one except in a road-rally…sheesh!

  5. John B

    My buddy had one of theses growing up. Put tall, skinny snow tires on it and go anywhere in snowstorms. We pulled trucks out of snowbanks with the thing.

    • Russell

      Sounds like another Saab story to me!

  6. Mark S Member

    I’ve never been a fan of French built cars I’ve always considered there mechanical to be a** backwards for example the Renult Lecar what a POS they were, you couldn’t give me one of those things. This car on the hand is a very cool looking body style and the mechanicals look pretty strait forward I kind of like it.It would be nice to see it in the hands of someone who will restore it, price looks fair too.

    • DENIS

      Mark S..I agree on French cars, but these are Swedish…and tough little bastards

      • Mark S Member

        I stand corrected some an old doesn’t now all the tricks or facts. Thank Denis for straightening me out.

  7. Ken

    Wow two 96 in one week! All the spots to watch for rust noted on the stroker pretty much apply on this one. But this car looks pretty solid. The V-4 is a perfectly fine version but I prefer the 2 strokes which are lighter in the nose and when warmer over can be as quick as a V-4. Heater/fan box in this one has been repainted at some point. Rubber covers on firewall are falling apart which isn’t all that unusual. Headliner on these later 96 require removal of fronts and rear glad to replace as it wraps under seals. No mention of freewheel function, often locked out on V-4s when tranny work done as the extra torque of V-4, use of wrong gearbox oil and alter design of freewheel hub conspire to create slip. The airplane mudflats are a nice touch.

  8. GlenK

    Something we never got in Canada. I was told the transmissions are a soft spot on these, so you really have to be aware. I did drive a Sonett with a bad 2nd gear.

  9. Chris A.

    My brother in law had several of this series from the late 50’s to the early 70’s. Wonderful winter cars and once you got used to the free wheeling they were nice drivers. His best was an 850GT with the three carbs, great seats and good tires. I liked it better than the V4, but either were good cars. The build quality on the 850GT was very high, but as noted, winter road salt didn’t do it any favor. I haven’t seen one on the road in ages, but here in the NE they didn’t survive. The two cycle base model wasn’t that much more than a VW bug and was a much better car. Hope this one finds a good home with someone who will really put it back in great shape.

  10. john

    The right model, a V4, and the right colour with next to no rust…I am tempted!!!

  11. Ken

    The comment by GlenK about transmissions is somewhat true. As with pretty much every SAAB trannies tended to be a weak link. On the 95/96/97 (Sonett) transmission problems were often created by using the wrong oil. The stock fill was a 70 wt EP gear oil if my memory is right. And in the day sort of hard to find anyplace other than a dealer. With the evolution to lighter, synthetic gear oils, not so much of a problem now. Put the right stuff in one, drive in a reasonable manner and they go deep into 6 figure miles. Sold one many years ago that was close to 200k on gearbox.

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