Originally Exported to Great Britain, An Unusual Vintage SAAB
1972 SAAB 96 V4
Chassis no. 96722008768
1,498cc OHV V4 engine
Single downdraft carburetor
65bhp at 4,600rpm
Four-speed manual transmission
Four-wheel independent suspension
Hydraulic servo-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes
The 96 V4
SAAB, or Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (literally Swedish Aircraft, Ltd) was founded in 1937 to build military aircraft for national defense. Initially building German designs under license, the company grew quickly as the storm clouds of war grew over the Baltic Sea. As the war came to a close, the company's directors realized that some diversification away from aircraft production might help to stabilize the nascent venture for the years to come. A handful of designers and engineers who had been involved in aircraft projects thus developed a car from scratch that from a side profile resembled more the profile of a wing than any car produced up to that time. By 1946, the prototype, project 92001, had been built by hand and was plying the back roads of the Swedish countryside. Powered by a pre-war DKW 2-cylinder, 2-cycle engine mounted transversely in the front of the car, SAAB engineers subjected the 'URSAAB' to well over 200,000 kilometers of punishing winter conditions and unimproved roads previously impassable by the many Swedish-manufactured Plymouths and other imported vehicles. The following year would see another variant that more closely resembled the production Model 92 and by 1950, the sturdy 2-stroke SAAB first saw series production.
By 1955, SAAB had worked on developing their own 3-cylinder, 2-cycle engine that offered greater durability and better performance than the aged DKW design. Though the 92 saw some competition success in early rally competitions that had become very popular throughout northern Europe, Models 93 and 96 saw great competition success. Chief SAAB competition works driver Erik 'On The Roof' Carlsson even took home the R.A.C. title in 1960 and back-to-back Monte Carlo Rallies in 1962 and 1963 driving various SAAB 96 Sport models. With tighter emissions regulations and a desire by SAAB engineering to provide owners with an engine that could provide greater performance, they tested many different four-stroke replacements to the 2-stroke, the finalists both being V4 engines from Ford of Germany and Lancia. In the end, the Ford won out, as SAAB engineers appreciated the similar torque produced by the Taunus engine compared with the high-revving Lancia powerplant.
The Motorcar Offered
Offered here is a lovely example of a Ford V4-powered SAAB 96. Still wearing its K-reg UK number plates, this example of SAAB's enduring aircraft-inspired design was originally delivered from the Trollhättan works to Great Britain when new as evidenced by a sticker inside the glove box door. The car remains largely original inside and out apart from an older respray in what appears to be its original and correct hue of Verona Green, while inside, period Black Watch Tartan covers preserve the original upholstery. Under the forward-folding bonnet, the 1,498cc Taunus V-4 engine appears original and complete with all accessories, along with a welcome modern improvement in the form of breakerless electronic ignition. Rare and complete in right-hand drive configuration, this Sturdy, Stylish and undeniably Swedish (to paraphrase a period advertisement) motorcar will delight any connoisseur of the unusual and never fail to draw a crowd.