Two-Stroke And No Reserve: 1968 Saab 96

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With a two-stroke, three-cylinder engine, this 1968 Saab 96 isn’t your normal car. Thanks goes to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the tip! It’s currently in Hialeah, Florida and is for sale here on eBay where bidding is just over $500 without a reserve.

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Until you start looking around the edges of the bodywork, this looks like a really nice car. And there are still some parts that are nice. According tot he seller, it has less than 55,000 miles, and runs, drives, and stops well. The transmission operates well as do most of the features of the car.

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Problems the seller lists include a carburetor that needs adjustment, a fuel sending unit that needs replacement, and the obvious rust issues. They also call the paint faded; it really doesn’t look that bad in the pictures until you see the closeups of the rust.

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Moving to the interior, while it looks pretty faded in spots and there are some split seams, I really don’t think it looks very bad. I wonder what happened to the funky headrest for the passenger seat?

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I can’t believe how nice the engine compartment looks on a currently sub-$1000 car. This may well be the best part of the car at the moment. I guess this comes down to how willing an individual is to work on a car over time. The rust is bad enough you can’t just leave it alone (unless you are looking for a two-stroke, three-cylinder winter beater), but it doesn’t look bad enough that a dedicated enthusiast couldn’t patch it up over time themselves. However, I’m quite sure professional work would take this out of the sensible side of the money equation. Personally, I hope an enthusiast snaps it up and fixes it over time. Any readers willing to be that enthusiast?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Up to just over $1,000 now.

  2. Puhnto

    Pretty sure it’s a 1967 (or older). The ’68s had the V-4 and had that same front end but a slightly larger windshield. Wonderful, solid little cars. I don’t think the headrests were available on these cars until 1969 or later, so the seats aren’t original.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Puhnto, Wiki claims the 2 cycle was continued into ’68, but after the V-4 came out in late ’67, I doubt anybody wanted the 3 cylinder. I drove a Saab with a 3 cyl. and it was pretty hopeless, not to mention the “James Bond” smoke screen behind you.

      • Scotty G

        Ha, that’s exactly why I’d want one, Howard; the smokescreen for tailgaters! Not to mention the mosquito control gig a person could pick up for some extra income.
        I’d be a little worried about the rust on this one, it looks pretty nice but you can tell that it’s lurking under the surface and it could come on strong once a person starts to tackle a restoration.

      • Puhnto

        Thanks, Howard. I had a 1968 95 (wagon) as a college kid up through six kids! It was a great little car. Could cruise all day at 80 across the Nevada desert without a sniffle. Solid as a rock.

        Never saw or heard of ’68s with the three cylinder that you mention and I see Ken, down below, agrees with you and is saying they also had the smaller windshield, so I guess you learn something every day!

      • Herbie

        I owned a 67 wagon,the only time I had smoke is when you lugged the engine. That means not shifting to a lower gear when needed. I also owned a 67sonett, with tri power. When the girl that sold me the car took my brother for a ride – she pulled up behind a Chrysler going 90 she blew the horn for him to get out of the way! That little car could fly.

    • SaabDude

      Sir/Madam: ’68 was the last year for the strokers. both 67 and 68 had the V4 and the 3 cyl.

      some 68 engines were referred to as “Shrike” engines… as shrikes are birds of prey who eat beetles.. aka VW Beetles / bugs.

      :-)

  3. Chris

    There are two guys that show up at most cars shows by me with a couple of these. It is a fascinating engine to look at how everything works. Hard to believe these engines actually made it into production. It is a pretty cool car, especially if you want something out of the ordinary.

  4. Ethan

    I could easily see this price continue to climb. I just sold my 1970 Saab 96 V4 (which smoked about as much as a 2-stroke:) a couple months ago. It had more than double the miles, engine leaked all over, had a cracked windshield, badly rusted out front sub frame, rockers, fenders quarters, trunk floor was GONE. It did run and drive and was a fun car for a while with the column mounted 4-speed, but I just couldn’t justify fixing the rust. Sold it for $950, this has to be worth double that.

  5. rogerowen

    I love these cars! Great ’60’s rally classics especially when in the hands of the late great Erik ‘on the roof’ Carlsson. I owned 3 at one time – 2 V4 96’s and a 95 estate (that a friend commented ‘must have been designed by two people that never met!).

  6. DRV

    I had a 67 in 75 for free as the owner left it at my garage. I drove it reliably everywhere with incredible gas mileage. I used it until the case of oil in the trunk was gone. Really a fun car to drive with free wheeling and an automatic first gear.
    They were mechanically guaranteed for 100k miles.

  7. Ken

    There were two strokes sold as 1968 model year cars. My parents purchased a tan 95 and red 96 new, both 68s. The 96 became my first car. I still have the original purchase documents from Checkpoint Inc. The interior trim as in this car, was the full door panels and headliner as the V-4s had but no headrests, small windshield. Seats in this one one appear to be from a V-4. Engine bore was decreased so they were under the 50 cu in cutoff for emissions controls. Fiat did the same thing with the 850. SAAB used up the leftover front drum brakes on these cars. The switches on either side of the clock were typically found on Sport and Monte Carlo 850, not these plain jane versions. Have to wonder if the free wheeling feature works properly. It’s missing the preheater that was fitted to the air filter inlet and went down & around the exhaust manifold. The rust is ugly. That front floor to firewall & engine bay floor is important. The rear tranny mount bolts to the firewall not very far above the floor pan. Could make a nice project car if had cheaply enough.

  8. sebtown

    My exwife’s parents bought her a 95 in 1972. She was my girlfriend at the time and didn’t know how to drive a stick so I went with her to pick it up. I still remember it was $2,829. out the door.

  9. Paul B

    Ken is right. This can be either a ’67 or ’68 two-stroke. It is also a total money loser for whoever buys it, but perhaps the buy won’t be made for financial reasons. The interior door trim shows it’s not a ’66 or earlier. The front spring towers are in good shape, which is surprising, with no rust visible. Bad ones and you’re done. Holes should be drilled in the top plates so the tower boxes can breathe; Saab did this themselves starting in ’69. But the rust elsewhere is troubling, as these cars have self-supporting bodies. In particular, the panels behind the doors would need to be fixed with sheet metal welded, not riveted, into place. The side beams between the front and rear wheels would have to be checked for rust, as would the big seam of the firewall, floor and engine room. The entire car can break in two if that seam and the side beams are not in good shape where they join the wheel wells. Floor under the gas tank might be rusted too. Check the rear shock and spring towers as well, and drill small holes from inside the trunk to let them breathe, as Saab did starting in ’70 or so. I had a ’68 two-stroke with the front seam problem and you could see this seam coming together as you braked, and moving apart under acceleration — if you could call it that. This car could probably be driven for quite awhile but it should be scheduled as a parts vehicle eventually or an expensive money-losing restoration. People used to give me these when they were this rusted, so I can’t see paying a lot for it even today. Buy it for parts, find a really good shell from down south or out west, and you’ve got something. This one also has the wrong seats, from a ’69, and the dash is supposed to be tan, not black. It’s a good old Saab. Love ’em. They are faster than you think if you know how to drive them and take care of them.

    Like 1

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