Two-Stroke Popcorn Popper Project: 1967 Saab 96

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“If they ever give an award to a car for not looking like all the rest . . . for retaining individualism in the face of look-alike styling trends . . . for sticking to the sound engineering principle of putting more emphasis on function than form . . . they will have to give it to Saab.” So says a brochure showing these incredibly interesting two-stroke cars. This 1965 1967 Saab 96 is posted here on eBay in Lompoc, California and the current bid price is a whopping $203.50!

On August 19, 1964, Saab introduced the new, slightly redesigned 1965 Saab 96 with a longer front clip but the 96 came out in 1960 as a 1961 model. Production lasted two decades and that’s a long time for a car that didn’t have many major design changes. The seller doesn’t show us the passenger side at all, hopefully it looks as good as the driver’s side does. Hagerty is at $4,700 for a #4 fair-condition car, just as a general reference.

I wish there was still plastic over the missing rear window, it looks like duct tape around the perimeter, but there’s nothing over the opening now. That isn’t good as it appears that this car is parked outside, as in not just for the photos. We don’t know for sure and the seller doesn’t mention its history at all, other than the owner planned on restoring it but has too many projects.

This is it for photos showing the interior other than this one showing a closeup of the driver’s side of the dashboard and gauges. It clearly needs a lot of work inside but the exterior looks pretty solid and looks like it would be a reasonably easy (if there is such a thing) restoration. Saab made practical cars for practical and often “professional” buyers: engineers, architects, professors, attorneys, etc., people who liked the form-follows-function adage.

This is the classic engine for these cars, a Saab 841-cc two-stroke inline-three, which was bumped up a bit to 44 horsepower in 1965. There was also a slight redesign to put the radiator in front of the engine rather than behind it. There are no valves and only seven moving parts on this engine, that’s almost as incredible as that classic two-stroke corn-popper sound that they made. This is the engine I’d want in my Saab. Have any of you owned a Saab 96 with a two-stroke?

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  1. BA

    Say what you want about 2 strokes but a cooler sound you will never find especially a 800 cc 3 cylinder !

    Like 12
  2. Skystone Jim

    Oh, this will pass California smog standards for sure!

    Like 7
    • tom hofstad

      There are no CA smog standards for 1975 and older

      Like 8
  3. William C.W. Lamb

    that’s a ’67… standard engine with 3 carbs and oil injection. VIN is correct for the model year.

    Like 8
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Thanks for the update, William!

      Like 2
    • Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

      Hard pressed to see 3 carbs under that air cleaner. My 66 had only 1.

      Like 0
    • Richard Coutts

      No, one carb as standard. Twin or triple carbs on sports models.

      Like 1
  4. Frank TA

    On Apr-10-24 at 07:54:03 PDT, seller added the following information:
    A reader with greater expertise has clarified this is actually a 1967 model 96.

    Like 4
    • RICK W

      No matter what year, IMO, this is just another VERY common Saab 🤮 Story. Wouldn’t want it. But might make a good addition to a salvage yard. But in America 🇺🇸 we are STILL entitled to our own opinions! Not sure how much longer! 🤔

      Like 5
    • Alex C

      Which means it has the Ford ‘Dagenham’ V4 4-stroke. This is NOT the DKW 2-stroke.

      Like 0
      • Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

        I thought that the V4 started in 68.

        Like 0
  5. HoA HoAMember

    I think what’s more interesting, bid wise, is the .50 cents. Why the author has never had one of these, is a true mystery. Why, even his avatar depicts his interest, yet, no cigar. Looking in the background, appears to be a lot of cast offs. Again, too far gone, and a parts car for the, um, 7 people that might collect them here.

    Like 5
  6. Anthony H. Tellier

    These, and Trabants, were popular in Berlin-area rallies: “Pop pop”

    Like 2
  7. Ray

    Does anyone remember a two stroke that had a pull start in the dash? I swear my high school buddy had one.

    Like 0
    • OldnSlo

      I think your referring to this car: Kleinschnittger F-125 my friend had one too. Any chance you lived in Glen Ellyn at the time?

      Like 0
    • Chinga-Trailer

      The British Bond MiniCar had such an arrangement, as well as a kick starter on the side of the engine. Very few in America, (I had two in Portland Oregon).

      Like 0
    • ChingaTrailer

      The British built Bond MiniCar could be had with a dash mounted pull start, or even more bizarre – a kick start. My two were kick start. Apart from the Lane Motor Museum, I know of no others in USA.

      Like 0
  8. BrianT BrianTMember

    I never had one or even knew anyone who did. I do remember these racing on the ice in/on Lake George. The front wheel drive with very studded tires made them very competitive. They always seemed to be leading.

    Like 3
  9. Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

    I’ve written this before. I had a 66 96 3 cylinder 2 cycle as my first car, purchased after graduating from college. I paid $600 IIRC. It was fun in the snow doing doughnuts; very well finished body and interior, albeit spartan. I’ve remarked multiple times on the free-wheel feature, as well as the inadequacy of the front drum brakes on a front-heavy car. Mine required that I put oil in the gas tank with every fill up. It gave up the ghost, i.e. seized, when a NJ gas station attendant failed to put all of the oil in the tank.

    If rust is not an issue with the instance car (mine lived in NYC and Westchester and had no rust at all, amazingly enough), I would replace the 2 cycle with the later V4 4 cycle unit, and upgrade the brakes to disks.

    Like 6
  10. Christen Johansen

    I had (4) ’68 two stroke 96’s during and after my college years (one on the road and one for parts). I’ve owned (11) SAAB’s over the past 51 years and currently have a 2008 9-5 Sportcombi and a 1968 96. The Sportcombi is a very nice, well appointed car to drive but the 2 stroke 96’s are so simple and great fun to drive. If I had the time, I’d take this project on in a heartbeat. I still have a bunch of 96 parts in my garage in case the winning bidder is interested.

    Like 0
  11. Tom

    My father traded his 1963 MG Midget for a 1967 three cylinder Saab just as I got my driver’s license. A year later, he traded our 1963 Chrysler 300 for a four stroke 1969 Saab. To this day I am convinced that he got these cars so I wouldn’t ask him to borrow a family car to go anywhere with my friends! So, I worked and saved and bought a 1970 Opel GT for me! And I never let my father drive it…just out of spite for getting those Saabs! That being said…the pic of this one brings back fond memories!

    Like 0
    • RICK W

      As indicated in original post, I ALWAYS love to hear another SAAB story like yours! 👍 Later! ALWAYS thinkin Lincoln, I’m on to VERSAILLES! 😉

      Like 1
  12. Richard Coutts

    Yes. I had one of these two stroke Saabs in UK in the late-70s. Bought for 50 pounds and driven home. Sounded like a sewing machine whilst idling at the lights. One of the front wheel universals for the dive clonked on full steering lock so needed replacing. A visit to a local scrap yard yielded one for a fiver from a wreck (same model) – “Take it off yerself”. So simple to replace. Otherwise never any other problems.
    The free wheel button on the floor – an early fuel economy idea – worked well on long downhill stretches. Illegal in UK I believe. Gliding downhill with the “sewing machine” ticking over. Steering column gear change.
    Quite a lot of emisions in the form of dull grey exhaust smoke from the two stroke fuel mix.
    Went to work abroad so gave the car to my father-in-law for a birthday present.
    Ah. The days when motoring was more fun……

    Like 4
  13. Paul B

    This is actually a 1967 Saab, and a relatively rare one at that. It’s a standard sedan — not a Monte Carlo 850 sports model — but equipped with the separate oil injection system of the Monte Carlo, in the lower-horsepower standard engine. It’s a 96 LD, with 46 horsepower compared to the Monte’s 60, and the convenience of separate oil injection — no adding oil to the fuel tank.
    You can tell it’s a ’67 from the vinyl interior door sill cappings and side panel treatment, and the seat upholstery itself, which is different from ’66 and earlier years.
    This car would be worth rehabilitating not from a financial standpoint — that couldn’t be done — but simply to have a fun-to-drive late Saab 2-stroke LD with oil injection.
    Neat find.

    Like 0
  14. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Auction update: this one sold for $1,594.

    Like 0
  15. CenturyTurboCoupe

    I can’t fathom how much of a piece of crap this thing is!

    Like 1
    • Jesse JesseStaff

      These were actually pretty good cars. They would have competed with the Beetle but were higher quality.

      Like 1

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