The Saab Collectors Overlook: 1969 Saab 99

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Everyone is familiar with the Saab 96, 900, 9000, and the unique Sonnett.  However, the company also produced a very good, and larger, vehicle to share the showroom with the 96 called the Saab 99.  Many were produced but few discuss the 99 today.  While collectors have flocked to other Saab models, the 99 seems to be neglected.  Is it the right time to add one to your collection?  Look carefully at this 1969 Saab 99 for sale on craigslist in Denver, Colorado.  Being offered at a relatively reasonable $1,700, is that figure an investment at this point?  Thanks to Gunter K. for this interesting Saab find!

With the continued success of the Saab 96, Saab was in a position to expand into a different market.  They decided to build a somewhat larger sedan and called the effort “Project Gudmund.”  The project was started in 196 and the final product emerged in late 1967.  While marketed as a large family car in Scandinavia, other markets were told that it was a “compact executive sedan.”  That is marketing speak for “early yuppie car.”

Some at Saab wanted to use the in-house two-stroke engine to power this new car.  Wiser heads prevailed, arguing that a more refined conventional engine would better befit such a dignified vehicle.  Emissions issues were probably a concern as well.  The company secured engines from Britain’s Triumph in the form of their slant four engines most commonly used in the Triumph Dolomite.  Saab would later produce their four-cylinder after being dissatisfied with the Triumph powerplant.

To say the car was well received is an understatement.  The 99 was produced from 1968 to 1984.  The final production number was north of 588,000, and there were many different variants.  Not only was a four-door version introduced.  There were also turbocharged models and other variants specifically designed for different markets around the world.  Part of this success was due to Saab spending the money and engineering resources to continually develop and refine the car over its long production run.

That constant development is something that enthusiasts should take note of.  If you want to purchase a collectible that you can keep for a long time and grow with, then the Saab 99 has a lot going for it.  There are plenty of parts available, you can install upgrades from newer versions, and the cost of ownership is low as of now.  While the 99 has its fans, the inherent goodness of the design hasn’t caught on to a large extent.  Even if it doesn’t appreciate a lot in value, this is a car that would be very enjoyable to live with as both a collectible and as a second vehicle on occasion.

The 99 you see here is a running and driving example piloted by an owner with some hard feelings.  Whoever sold him the car did not disclose that it had a salvage title.  While there are ways to change the status to “rebuilt,” the seller seems perturbed enough to just wipe their hands of it altogether, and at a loss.  The car is driven three times a week but needs a few items.  Among those are a windshield wiper motor, a turn signal fuse, some welding on the muffler, and a coolant reservoir.  It would also benefit from new brake shoes, a radio, and a heater element.  By saying element, the seller may mean a new heater core.  It also will need a headliner and some rust repair in the usual areas.

Given the seller’s emotions, the car may be in one of those cash talks situations.  It would be wise to check your state’s policies on vehicles with salvage titles but there is always a way to make things work if you are determined enough.  Looking at the car makes one think of the directions an enthusiast could go with this one.  While the most logical step would be to return it to its original condition as your budget and time allow, you can’t think of a Saab without thinking of making a street-legal version of a rally car out of it.  Whatever you decide, this Saab 99 would be a good investment no matter how the deal turns out.

Are you a fan of Saab cars?  Have you ever owned one?  What would you do with this one?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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  1. Moncton(was Winnipeg)carnutMember

    My father had a 1978 99GL as a winter car in the late 1980’s. My sister drove it in the summers. She and her friends eventually wore out too many parts, mainly clutch, to justify further repairs.
    It was referred to as Sherman, as in tank, after a neighbour left their Celica in neutral and it rolled down the driveway, across the street, and into the door of the Saab. Didn’t leave a mark.

    Like 2
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    I like the Ford pickup sitting next to it.

    Like 1
  3. jrhmobile

    Use this ol’ Saab as it’s intended: as an unstoppable winter beater.

    Let’s be real here. The only investment value you’ll find in this ol’ Saab is insurance you’ll make it to work in bad weather.

    Like 1
  4. CarNutDan

    In my eyes it is worthy of a full restoration. These are very safe cars. My mother had a crayola crayon green 1978 coupe from the 70s to the late 1980s on the original clutch. They are good on gas and great in winter too.
    Someone please restore it!

    Like 6
  5. Christopher

    While it’s true these earlier 99’s are overlooked it’s because the 99 turbo and turbo S (water injection) (79-84), 99 EMS and 99 GLE are the models to own. As the old adage says, “a rising tide lifts all boats”, so as the turbos/EMS/GLE models continue to increase in value it should help lift the value of these earlier models, making this ‘69 a good example of an opportunity to get in on the ground floor .

    Like 3
  6. Fred

    One of my uncles was a Saab (and later Subaru) dealer in upstate NY. Another uncle bought a green 99 from him in the very early 70s. As a teen I rode in it quite a bit with my cousin. Loved everything about that car. Unique styling, quick enough, manual transmission. Picked up 5 girls hitchhiking in it one time and one had to sit on my lap. Good times! My Miata has a salvage title. Never an issue in PA.

    Like 4
  7. Ron

    I moved to Sweden in 1988 and my first car purchased was a 1980 99. Winter was nothing to this vehicle and it would go anywhere I wanted it to go. No matter how deep the snow it just seemed to plow through it. Had it for 2 1/2 years and traded it for a BMW 325. To this day I still wonder who got the better part of that deal?

    Like 3
  8. tadah23Member

    I had a 1986 Saab 900T for a number of years (my ex got it in the divorce). At 102k miles, the automatic gave up and it was replaced with a 4 speed (OD) which delivered better mpg and made it more fun to drive. Up to the time my ex got it, it was trouble free. In the winter, it shrugged off the chilling cold of Burlington, Vt firing up easily. Driving through the snow, carefully, it soldiered on without hesitation. Wish I had it back.

    Like 1
  9. BTG88

    My first car was a 1980 99 GLi, purchased with over 100,000 miles. If was immensely fun to drive and ad others have noted, unstoppable in the Northeast winters. Still miss it.

    Like 1
  10. Stephen

    There’s an old story…if the Martians ever landed on earth they would go up to the first Saab 99 they saw and would ask to be taken to their leader.
    I owned a 75 99 LE ( Canadian) and when it ran it was one of the best highway cruisers and winter cars around at the time.
    Never left home without first checking under the car to see how much oil it had leaked, a fist full of fuses, and a litre of oil.
    Enjoyed the key and vent positioning lever on the floor…heat to the rear floor in 75.
    All in all a great ride

    Like 1
  11. Beyfon

    The early 99 drove great for the time but were woefully underdeveloped. Gearboxes and in particular the free wheel mechanism that had worked fine in the old two-stroke 95/96 got very fragile with the weight and torque of the 99. The Triumph engines were smooth and rev happy but in a typical British 1960’s way not particularly dependable. They got a bad reputation for head gasket issues, and to make things worse the head bolts would commonly break when you tried to unbolt them. Now that became a real problem as those bolts are angled in a V on these engines…My own favorite 99 was a lightweight early car like this, same pretty blue color but where the drivetrain had been swapped for a later 2.3 and 5-speed gearbox. That thing ran really well!

    Like 0

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