Thursday, February 27, 2014

5k: Freewheelin: 1971 SAAB 96 V4 4-spd

The cost of cool seems to go up each year.  Take the Porsche 912.  For years it was the unloved little brother of the 911, but one day it became cool to be slow and a nicely preserved 912 costs about as much as a 911...which is to say...too much money.  What you've got to do is beat them at their game and drive something that is even slower and more horrible than a a SAAB 96.  Find this 1971 SAAB 96 V4 4-spd for sale in San Juan Capistrano, CA for $5,000 via craigslist.

The SAAB 96 was a slow car, with 0-60mph dispatched in a sundial stopwatch friendly 15 seconds...or so.  Don't make the mistake of confusing slow with un-fun, as a SAAB 96 is not a Prius-like appliance and will provide a thrill a minute.  Take cruising down hill, for example.  Most cars it is a simple choice of which gear to select for engine braking, but the 96 uses a freewheel clutch designed to prolong the life of the previously fitted 2-stroke engine and it lets the car cruise down a hill while the engine settles to a peaceful idle.  Need to pick up speed, just mash the gas and as soon as the engine revs match trans speed the power gets put to the wheels.  Want engine braking -- just hit a floor mounted switch and the trans gets stuff.

The masochist would select a 2-stroke SAAB, but the Ford Taunus sourced compact V4 engine is the better choice for all around driving (that is correct, a four cylinder vee setup similar to oddballs like Lancia's Fulvia or the 2014 Porsche 919 LeMans Hybrid Prototype racer). The 1.7 liter V4 is good for 65 horsepower and it a top speed of over 90mph.  The interior in this one looks like a hand grenade went off is steeped in history and covered with a fine patina of vintage class...

See a better way to drive slow, look good and save your cash?


  1. I got a good laugh out of that edited comment about the interior. Thanks DT!

    Oh, and I really like this car. I would drive it in a heartbeat. I know there are Android apps that let you play selected engine sounds synced to the OBD2 port on your car (for example, you can replace the real-time sound of your Ford Focus with that of a Ferrari Colombo V-12; heck, you can even add an exterior speaker so everyone can join in the fun!). I wonder if they have a Saab 2-stroke option? Oh wait, this doesn't have an OBD2 port. Darn......

  2. I would need the 3cyl 2stroke with the thousand angry bee sound ! Even if the V-4 would be the wiser choice.
    I have ridden in a few of these as a kid and as a Hitchiker when i lived overseas good times !

  3. Have to go back in time...get some leather elbow patches on my tweed jacket, properly rumpled hair askew, pipe hanging from Jack Daniels parched lips, some wallabees...a couple of cute coeds hanging on my every word about Dostoyevsky's conflicted sexuality....and putt away to a private tutorng session.

    1. Holy Crap! You're Donald Sutherland from Animal House! Sorry, that should be holy carpe, as in carpe diem.

  4. This guy in Philly converts them into hybrids!

  5. Seeing this at. 5k reaffirms to me that I got a pretty good deal on my'68 96. It will never be mistaken as fast but it is fun to drive plus it fits nicely in my Less Than 100 hp club with my alfa Giulia Super 1300.


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