A Photo for Sunday: 1960-1980 Saab 96

Our visiting Saab experts can probably identify this car more precisely.

1960-1980 Saab 96 seen in Aarhus, Denmark.
1960-1980 Saab 96 seen in Aarhus, Denmark.

It lives near my home and comes out at the start of summer and disappears in the autumn. It never seems to move in the meantime. I think it may be a piece of conceptual art. The timeline for the Saab 96 shows you could buy a new one until 1980. Similar living-fossils such as the Mini, Beetle, Renault 4 and 2CV all existed into this period so the 96 was not so out of place. However, the 96 must have seemed very archaic compared to the Golf which in many ways shares the same layout though the Saab’s engine is longitudinally mounted instead of being transverse.

If you were in a retro frame of mind you could do a lot with the themes and elements of the 96 and style a rather splendid C-class car. Saab paid a lot of attention to aerodynamics for this and the 99 and then 900. After that they seemed to give up on the idea in any overt way. By the time Saab died (sort of) a few years back their cars had grown enormously such that the 9-5 of 2010 was a 5 metre long luxury car, quite out of keeping with Saab’s ethos.

I always felt Saab would have been better to look to this car and make something more robust, Spartan even, in the manner of a 911 but in the Golf/Astra/Focus class instead of trying to outdo BMW et al.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

2 thoughts on “A Photo for Sunday: 1960-1980 Saab 96”

  1. Unfortunately my knowledge of this model range is limited. There were 2 stroke and v4 (transit) engined versions. Mr Carlsson rallied them extensively and successfully. I suspect that SAAB customers were very loyal and didn’t like change much. Thus SAAB continued with the v4 despite having a better car in the 99. They feared losing customers. Once the 900 had come into play they couldn’t hold production for all 3 models. They also tended to have a transition period whereby they used all the old components up. Example is a 99 with a 900 sedan boot called the 90. Essentially it got rid of a lot of 99 components. I suspect there was a surplus of v4 components that took a long time to use up.
    The front suspension set up runs all the way back to the early 50’s and was developed into a double wishbone set up that ran until 1993. The components are very very similar .. or indeed the same.
    The rear suspension of a 99 (with only slight mods) carried from the late 60’s until 1998 with the demise of the 9000. SAAB didn’t like redesigning the wheel … though they were keen on designing genuine new technology like direct ignition (how many cars today have an old coil set up? SAAB developed and introduced in 1986) along with turbochargers and the obligatory (on all turbo models today) APC which allowed control of boost pressure that every turbo car of today including diesels. This means you can market 110bhp, 130bhp and 180bhp models of the same car (and all the variations above and between) with very little actual cost change in production.

  2. I know this particular car and I like it because it’s a little rough around the edges despite seemingly spending the winters under cover. I’ve never seen it roll either, neither have I been able to track its owner. Going by the trim it must be a ’73, the chrome strip on the rear wing is off a <'69 though. There's often another 96 in Kirkegårdsgade, between the graveyard and Nørrebrogade, that one regularly moves though. Its colour is not dissimilar to this one, but the paint is in much better condition.

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