SAAB icons: Out and about in the Saab 96

Today I'm on the road with Saab, the blog has to wait. Time for a Swedish icon. Time for the Saab 96. Last summer, Uli was my guest with his 96, and we made good use of the time. My first contact with the Saab 96.

Saab is for me first and foremost turbo. Because I belong to the generation that Saab learned to define via the legendary 900 Turbo and later on the 9000. Well, even before the legendary turbo years there was Saab, good cars were built in Trollhättan, but no turbos.

Saab 96 GL year 1980
Saab 96 GL year 1980

So the encounter with Ulis Saab 96 became the first real contact with a Saab of the “pre-turbo era”.

The Saab 96 is a notable phenomenon as the Swedes have really managed to keep up the basic form of the first serialaab consistently to 1980. The design cites the aerospace form of a wing. This was continued with modifications to the Saab 99 Kombicoupe, then the Saab 900 and ended only with the Saab 9000 series or the Saab 9-3 the first series.

Saab 96 GL, Saab invention: headlight cleaning
Saab 96 GL, Saab invention: headlight cleaning

Many Saab innovations, cleverly incorporated into the series, helped the Saab 96 to its long car life, being built from 1960 to 1980. Well, the 1980 vintage was already in the late 79 of the bands in Uusikaupunki, but we're talking about a considerable runtime of more or less 20 years.

Saab 96 GL, V4 engine from Ford
Saab 96 GL, V4 engine from Ford

During this time, the Saab 96 transformed 2-Takter to the V4 powered 4-Takter. Saab inventions such as a headlamp cleaning system, impact absorbing bumpers or an automatic seat heating system were introduced. Thus, the 96 was obsolete by the design at the end of its construction, but still technically presentable.

Loving detail: Saab 96 GL tank closure with airplane logo
Loving detail: Saab 96 GL tank closure with airplane logo

The Saab 96 V4 from Uli is first-hand, even the stickers in the style of the 70er years are original. Somehow cult again. Uli brought him from the Swedish west coast and made some technical improvements to make the 96 more suitable for everyday life.

Saab's reputation for building durable, indestructible and safe cars is based in part on the 96. If you look at the many lovingly made details, then you understand that this series in Sweden and around the world still has many fans. Everything seems to be milled out of the box, material savings and cost optimization were not known at that time. If you think of today's cars, you want something back.

Saab 96 GL, ventilation on the C pillar with Saab logo
Saab 96 GL, ventilation on the C pillar with Saab logo

Erik Carlson, the famous Saab rally driver, won 1962 and 63 with the 96 the Monte Carlo Rally. Two years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Carlson in Sweden. He had some time and told me some short stories from his life with Saab. The former Rally Saab corresponded in large parts, of course not with the engine power, the series. Arriving and leaving on its own axis was a matter of course, and so it went in the 96 with spare parts then throughout Europe.

Erik Carlson is a tall, stately appearance even in old age. If you climb into the small, petite 96, then you can not imagine, so that half of the continent to cross. Mind you with sack and pack on board. Then enter even more victories. Because even then Saab was a small company, and as today, every effort had to be limited.

Saab 96 GL interior, lovingly furnished
Saab 96 GL interior, lovingly furnished

Maybe the rendezvous with the Saab 96 is not just a meeting with the past, maybe it's also a preview of the Saab future. Because in Sweden they planned a new, small Saab, which should take up the design language of 96 and transport it into the new millennium.

With Uli I wanted to do a few laps in the Spessart with the Saab 96. So into the "little one", the V4 engine starts and brings this legendary sound. The huge turning circle is surprising for such a small car. Since the car does not require power steering, there is something like that, you really need power. It is probably unimaginable for the younger readers, and I too feel like I'm in a time capsule at 96.

Saab 96 GL, instruments
Saab 96 GL, instruments

Out on the country road. No, only through the place. What is striking ? The 96 has a totally crazy flirt factor. Pretty representatives of the opposite sex turn towards us - well - probably more after 96. “Totally normal,” says Uli. The 96 is well received by women. When did that happen to us in Saab 9-5? Just. As good as never before.

We drive on the highway and Uli tries to explain the freewheeling system to me. Because then I'm allowed to drive the Saab 96. I did not quite get it, and unfortunately our ride is over at the first climb. A small technical defect, we suspected some dirt in the gas tank, ended our trip.

What a pity, because the 96 is a kind of legend on wheels. Meanwhile, the defect is fixed, it was a trifle and not the gas tank. We'll catch up on the ride soon, and then there's more about this great Saab. Again thanks to Uli, who has sacrificed a whole afternoon for good pictures and this little story.

Thanks Uli. There was a lot of fun !

Text: tom@saabblog.net

3 thoughts on "SAAB icons: Out and about in the Saab 96"

  • Hello and so on

    Congratulations on your project! The 95 is an ingenious car and you can see the experience in aircraft construction in many small details. A 95 station wagon was always on my wish list ...
    Please keep the community up to date with your project!

  • Hi Tom,
    have the Saab 95 station wagon project at home since yesterday! The car is really bizarre and unique. So I now have a real oldtimer in addition to the Youngtimer 900. Let's see when he comes out on the street ...
    Gruss Ulf

  • Hi Tom,

    that was great to introduce a 96 with the original aluminum…. Memories are awakened!

    I became a Saab fan through 96. I simply bought because the ratio of TÜV remaining time to price was unbeatable. Yes, so I was as a young thing about 1990

    The freewheel is actually very easy. Since the 96 used to be a two-stroke engine, the engine had to be decoupled when taking off the gas. A two-stroke engine does not draw any petrol when it is coasting - when you take it off the accelerator and coast, so to speak. Since it is lubricated by the oil contained in the gasoline, it would not experience any lubrication and would seize up.

    In the four-stroke as the later used Ford V4 engine that was not necessary but the transmission was simply reused. So had the Saab Lenradschaltung and Feilauf!

    There were certainly various other compact designs but what does Saab buy after the two-stroke? Probably the only 4 cylinder in V construction!

    You have to imagine: steering wheel shift, freewheel, V-motor ...

    Well, the two-stroke was very small therefore probably the choice for a compact V engine. Although the engine room actually had huge space. That's why I said, yes, that's typical Saab. Stop individual solutions

    I kind of preferred a statement

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