Rare Edition! 1965 Saab Monte Carlo 850

Most car people are familiar with a Saab 96. At one-time, they seemed ever-present, owing to their twenty-one year run between 1960 and 1980. But did you know that there was a “Sport” version of the diminutive Saab, known as the Monte Carlo 850? It was news to me but here we have just such an example. It is located in Pound Ridge, New York and available here on eBay for a current bid of  $7,700, reserve not yet met. There is also a BIN option of $15,000.

Research indicates that the Saab Sport started in 1962 and then in ’63 was renamed the GranTurismo 850. Another name change occurred in ’65 with the Monte Carlo 850 moniker and after the ’68 model year, there were no more. The twin chrome stripes traversing the lower portion of the body identify a Saab 96 as the performance version.

This particular Saab is not in its original form. It is powered by a 1967 Ford “Taunus”, 1.5 liter, V4 engine, which generates 65 HP in stock form. The original engine would have been an 841 CC, 55 HP, three-cylinder, two-stroke motor good for 55 HP. The mechanical improvements are extensive and fully detailed in the listing. The seller states that he has driven the car 5K miles and has not encountered any problems. He further adds, “The V4 engine runs very well and the gearbox shifts smooth”. There is a drive around video here that illustrates this Saab in motoring action. Interestingly, the four-speed manual transmission is activated by a column shift lever. For those who are focused on originality, the seller advises that he has most of the components necessary to restore this Monte Carlo 850 back to its born-with power plant by virtue of a collection of new, used and rebuilt parts. Again, the list is extensive.

The story behind this Saab is that it sat it out in a California garage between 1988 and 2014 and has accumulated 103K miles over its lifetime. It is not clear how many miles have elapsed since the engine swap occurred. The seller does say that a repaint occurred somewhere before 1988 and the paint, at least on the trunk lid, is checked and peeling. While there is no evidence of crash damage, there are, according to the seller, “a few small rust areas including the driver side floor pan near the sill, bottom of driver’s door and two straps where firewall meets the floor pan”. That said, the exterior of this hot-rod Saab presents itself very well.

Inside, it is about as original as it gets. Under the driver’s side floor mat there is some evidence of previously identified rust but beyond that, the condition is clean and tidy. The instrument panel has that all-business European flare found in so many marques that originate from across the ocean. I have waxed on about that feature many times before but these gauge and switch layouts are just so much more commanding than many of their domestic counterparts. The two-tone fabric upholstery is inviting and seems more reminiscent of a ’50s variety interior treatment.

So, what does this Saab Monte Carlo 850 (what is really now a Monte Carlo 1500) need? Seems like nothing. It’s good to go as is, has had a tremendous amount of refurbishment deployed and comes with an extensive collection of original-status parts. Granted, the appeal will be more for Saab aficionados but if the Saab 96 series is your thing, this example is pretty special, wouldn’t you agree? Want to see more? Check out this Dropbox display.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice car. Don’t see a lot of these in decent condition any more. Got to ask…I thought these cars had the V4 in the later models. The Sonnet had the V6 along the same time. Anyone got the real truth?

    Like 1
    • RayT Member

      Yes. The Ford V4 was used in Saabs starting — I think — a year later. That goes for both the 96 and the Sonett. My guess is that a previous owner decided to do the conversion. I can’t imagine it was all that difficult.

      For me, the three-popper would have to go back in. Nothing against the Ford engine, just that I liked the two-stroke cars a lot.

      Like 7
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Twice now I’ve looked at the 96, one at $1200, and one at $750. I didn’t buy either car for various reasons. But I would like to have one of these someday, with the V-4.

    Like 2
  3. MotorCoop MotorCoop Member

    These little cars are fun just to look at. worth every penny of the BIN price.

    Like 6
  4. JW454

    Now that it’s in there, I’d leave the V4 in place. I wouldn’t want to be a back seat passenger if we were going very far. I like this one.

    Like 1
  5. sir mike

    A Bull Nose 750GT is even rarer…

  6. amos

    It’s in Pound Ridge NY! this might have been young Wes Chester’s car (of WVWA Radio fame)!

  7. Mike Hawke

    Without that original two-stroke, I think it’s in Pound Sand NY.

    Like 8
  8. angliagt angliagt Member

    I believe the Saab V4’s were sourced from the Ford Corsair.

    • Chris

      Ford Taunus 17M (German)

      Like 2
  9. Howard A Member

    Got a special place, somewhere, for these. It’s one of the 1st cars I ever drove, and certainly the 1st column shift 4 speed. Back in the 60’s, when I was just a lad( 10), my parents had some friends in Franklin, Mass. and they had Saabs. They had an older ring ding, a 92, I think and a newer wagon like this with the V4. The 92 wast just sitting, so my brother and I got it running, and drove it around their vast yard, fogging the bugs. I don’t remember much, except that the gas pedal did little, perhaps because it was worn, was a gutless thing. I’ve always wanted a Saab , but at this price, it’s going to have to remain in the “special place”. They were great cars.

    Like 3
    • chrlsful Member

      that dealer was in Medfield I believe. I remember it near/in down town across from Wills Hardware…

      They came out in ’60 w/the addition of the 4 in ’67 & I’d watch the grill and front change over the yrs as I went by the place (1960 – move out/close). By the time the europeans realized or did the mrkt research to change over to luxury or ‘executive’ cars (both they’n Wolwo went ‘upscale’ to stay in the usa mrkt) the place was gone…Never owned one (both in waggy format would B good – the Amazon and this model) but wrked on my wife’s 900 turbo. By the time gm killed them they were quite nice cars !

      Like 1
  10. Rod

    My wife owned a Sonnet with the V-4 engine—very peppy engine that gave that small car great performance. I would keep the V-4 since it has better performance, and less hassle with the 4 cycle engine as opposed to a 2 cycle with the gas-oil situation. For me, it’s performance over originality. And that V-4 has the Saab heritage anyway. We still own a Saab today, a 2007 Saab 9-3 convertible.

    Like 1
    • Bill L McCoskey


      If you’re referring to the major hassle of manually mixing oil and gas, the GT850 cars all came with oil injection, so as long as you keep the oil canister filled with the right oil, the task of mixing oil and gas in the correct amounts is not an issue. [You had to figure out how many gallons you were going to put in the tank, then figure out how many ounces of oil to add.]

  11. KLH

    I worked for Tucson, BMW-Saab, as a mechanic,in the mid-late,70’s..Remember, the 3 cylinder,2 stroke, Sonnets..At the time, the higher end,700 series, BMW’s,didn’t have factory installed ac. I was installing them ion the bays..And that’s a Whole Another Story…

    Like 2
  12. JoeNYWF64

    Odd no door vent windows or outboard dash vents.
    This may be the 1st car that mounted the door mirrors where they shouldn’t be mounted – like on most modern “cars”.

  13. Willowen Member

    Good friend of mine got the regular 96 version of this, the biggest difference being that unlike the Monte Carlo his required the oil to be added to the tank on fill-up. We used to get stared at in gas stations for standing on the bumpers and bouncing up and down. David was used to it, though, as he was also running a Suzuki 500 at the time, which required the same procedure.

    Like 1
  14. Paul Root

    My brother had a regular 95 about 2 years ago. It had the 3 cylinder. It was pretty fun to drive.

    Sold it to a guy in New Hampshire who bought it sight unseen. He drove through a snow storm to and from Wisconsin to get it.

    I don’t know how Erik Carlsson so these so fast. I could not shift it smoothly to save my life.

  15. Royal

    I am very familiar with these cars as my Dad had a 67 with the v4.

    Interesting to see this was converted, and I’d love to know how it was done as some cutting needs to be done to drop in the v4.

    I live just north of this cars location and I’m willing to go do an inspection for anyone who might be interested.

    Like 1
  16. Martin Horrocks

    The value in this would be in the Monte Carlo spec, which is veryrare and desirable. With the V4 installation, the car is worth much less, very much less than $15000 for example., even if “most of” the original motr is present.

  17. Bill McCoskey

    I used to have a 1963 SAAB 850GT Monte Carlo. These were equipped with front disc brakes, stiffer suspension, oil injection, and of course the larger displacement engine, equal to a 1700cc 4-stroke version.

    My car had been one of the “backup” vehicles for SAAB factory race driver Eric Carlson, and had toured various SAAB dealerships across the country before ending up in San Francisco, where it was bought new by a friend of my father, who brought it back to Maryland a few years later.

    It didn’t pass Maryland inspection because of a leaking brake cylinder, so he parked it in the garage, where it sat until I got it with only about 20,000 miles showing. In addition to the car’s documented history, it still had ALL the special racing equipment on it, all the front lights, the Halda clock, etc.

    Once we had it running and driving well, I used to challenge the local Ford & Chevy guys to a race along a well-known curvy, winding 2-lane road, and it was a rare car that could catch us!

    Sadly, this car was in my large storage building, snugly nestled between a 1932 Rolls-Royce 20/25, and a 1941 Cadillac convertible coupe, when the building was hit by a massive bolt of lightning, and everything was destroyed in the fire. But during the years I had it running, it was a blast to drive!

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