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Swedish Barn Find: 1973 Saab 96

“It’s about time you thought about Saab. Mainly because we’ve been thinking about you since we built our first car in 1950. Thinking about you is part of our heritage.” So says a brochure showing the early Saab lineup. This Swedish barn find is a 1973 Saab 96 and it can be found listed here on eBay in Anderson, South Carolina, birthplace of the great Jim Rice of the Boston Red Sox. The current bid price is $1,250 and there is no reserve.

This is a lot of car for $1,250, despite some missing trim, a few dings, some rust spots, and not having been driven for a long time. The seller says that it was stored inside for a very long time and it looks pretty nice to me, despite a few small rough spots on the exterior. I’ve shown this “Photochop” before, but I always wondered what a four-door Saab 96 may have looked like…

We’ve only seen four 1973 Saab 96s here on Barn Finds, which is a bit surprising. Maybe I’m thinking of the 96, in general, and we’ve seen a ton of them over the years. Speaking of that, Saab offered the 96 from 1960 through 1980 and if you think about the cars that were being made in 1980, the 96 could have been considered a little outdated, despite upgrades over the previous two decades of production. This was reportedly the last year for the 96 in the U.S. market.

I can’t help thinking of YouTube gold when I see an interior like this. Most of us have watched too many videos of forgotten vehicles being washed, detailed, and otherwise cleaned up and I have to believe this one would look really nice given a shot at being the star of one of those detailing videos. This car appears to have factory air-conditioning and that’s got to be a fairly rare feature, although by this time even things like heated seats would have been available. That the dash remained crack-free over the decades is amazing, but there is some heavy surface rust on the floors.

The engine is Saab’s, or Ford’s, 1.7-liter V4, which by this time in the U.S. had 65 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque. It sends power through a column-shifted four-speed manual transmission to the front wheels. There’s no mention of the engine, whether it even turns over or not, but I’d bet that most Barn Finds readers could have it running in no time. Hagerty is at $4,600 for a #4 fair-condition car, how much would you pay for this example?


  1. Avatar photo Clayinabq

    Man, I love a project like this! It’s all there, waiting for a second chance. Okay, the engine is anemic, but you’d be the only one at the show and shine with one of these.

    Like 0
  2. Avatar photo TRUTH

    If it runs, then the 1500 is reasonable. Otherwise, I’d say hard pass with how much needs done just to have it presentable and driveable. I have to respectfully disagree about the interior. I don’t think any amount of elbow grease can make it look presentable.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo HoA Member

    Anyone else see the irony of their “thinking of you” campaign, company now defunct. As heartfelt as it may sound, Americans didn’t go for it. As silly as it sounds, we never took into account what great cars they were, ( ring-ding excepted), just couldn’t get past the name, an expletive in our language. That and smokey memories of the 2 stroke never faded. These had a small following, one of the very 1st cars I yard drove, a 93, 2 stroke,, that my parents friends had. They were a bit unusual folks, and Saabs were just right for them. Naturally, my old man was not impressed, showing up in our Olds 98. For a spell, these had a flash in the pan, good examples maybe hitting $10grand. Luckily, that has cooled considerably, and this is about right for a beater. It’s how most remember them.
    Re: Scottys photochop:
    It’s pretty clear this guy was born 25 years too late to be an auto designer of the 60s.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha, you’re way too nice, HoA, thanks much! I didn’t think anyone clicked on those links. That’s great to know that they aren’t a waste of time.

      Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Kurt Member

    This would be more attractive to me if it had the two cycle engine as I would be guaranteed more interest at cars and coffee.

    Like 5
  5. Avatar photo Art

    What is current bid?

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Troy

      $1,250 and that is $1,150 to much

      Like 1
  6. Avatar photo chrlsful

    love to have the waggy in rally livery (complete w/wire & wood slat roof rack, 4 big aux lights, etc – monticarlo model). Wanna play w/a bent4, never have, would B fun.

    That motor evolved into my 3.8L (wagon w/AOD) & the 4.2 “Essex” bent6 the latter which served as ford got to in a decade of hi-selling F150s.

    All SAABs were over the top for me. Sorry they went out. 9-3 Viggen and CD/CC/CS 9000 (Alfa/Lancia copied) were some great cars. Wife’s ’93 900 was the last non-GM. It was easy to maintain (reg: breaks, exhaust, etc) hada turbo and around that time Subie put an engine in a model also, boxer 4. (Funny thing? Both needed the same reg maintenance item, a head gasket 200K /or/ 100 – 150K on the subie, due to alu head/iron block). Safe, durable like the wolwo – and after they both did the usa mrkt research – peppie/luxurious needed by those 2 to stay viable in our country. They both only got nother 10, 15 yrs out of that move. Wolwo still visits (100K sold usa, ’22) but is owned by china now.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Troy

    These things seem to have a cult following, I think they are ugly. I would buy one for a flip to to drive and own no thanks, I would rather have the Volkswagen bus in the background of the first picture.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo luckless pedestrian

    Not a lot of Saab love so far in this comment thread… Definitely a company that made its own way… To bad GM had no idea who Saab’s customers were or what to do with them… Re-badged Trailblazers and Subarus… really? Owned 6 examples over 3+ decades and loved every one. This one would be a fun project…

    Like 6
  9. Avatar photo BimmerDude Member

    Living in Northern New Hampshire I succeeded in moving our Land
    Rover money pit to another owner when we found a 1969 96 at the local Chevy dealer. We needed to use the owner’s manual to find reverse for the test drive but it rode well, seemed just better designed (like a heater!) than a similar size/priced compacts. After a move to Connecticut we found the transmission starting to fail, sourced a used replacement that also began to fail and an old-school Saab tech rebuilt the first one. A critical check would be to drain some tranny lube oil and have it analyzed for bearing particles.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo HoA Member

      Ha! Not the only one to look that up, I bet. If I remember, you pull the shifter out, then towards you and down, no?

      Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Richard

    It sold for $1275, the buyer got a great deal.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Richard!

      Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Larry Member

    Red valve covers were for the earlier 1.5 V4. 1.7 engines had blue valve covers. Just as a note. Saab specialist since 1975.

    Like 4
  12. Avatar photo M M H Nilsson

    That seems really a bargain for the 1250 it went for, except for the missing title. This color “brilliant yellow” existed only for 1973 and is quite rare, my grandmother in Denmark had one exactly like this with European front of course, that I fondly remember. I have never seen a factory a/c for a Saab 96, wow, hope it will be restored.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Richard Olmsted

    Call me. Svn oh too 506. Eight 0ne 33
    Please let me know.
    olm 1111 At gmail

    Like 0

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