Thursday, October 6, 2016
Rally Like Erik: 1966 SAAB 96 Special
We all know Thorsday is the best day of the week. How can you have Thorsday without awesome Swedish steel? You can’t, so for your consideration is this example of a car with an engine that sounds like a nest of angry bees, needs oil, and may possibly smoke more than a middle school student behind the teacher’s lounge. With emission standards tightening it is hard to find two stroke marine engines and weed eaters let alone automobile engines. The rules are making it harder, and I submit conspiring, to prevent us from unleashing our inner Erik Carlsson and beating the likes of Porsche, MG, and fellow Swede Volvo in a rally stage with an underpowered car. But wait! Here is your opportunity as some hero has listed this 1966 SAAB 96 Special on Craigslist in Upton Massachusetts for a mere $6,000.00. That price is of course U.S. Dollars and not Swedish Krona.
The white body looks good for a 1966, but as we know any rally Saab should be painted red. Not perfect as there is a rust spot on the drivers side door which is not bad. 1966 was the last year for a two stroke Saab to win a rally. Ake Anderson and Sven-Olof Svedberg pulled off the win in the Swedish Rally and from then on out the Saab Works team would only win victories in the Ford V-4 version of the Saab 96. The seller indicates the “Special” is the US version of the “Monte Carlo” named to commemorate Carlsson’s victories in the 1962 and 1963 Monte Carlo rally. I believe the Saab 96 Sport was actually called the Granturismo 850 in the US, but a true connoisseur will need to weigh in. This US version includes all of the features of the Monte except the special exterior trim, seats, and dash but the seller includes a correct wood wheel. If you were to pick a year to buy you could do worse.
The engine is a 841 cc two stroke. Originally the engine should have been equipped with a oil injection pump, but the seller indicates this has been removed. During gas fill ups make sure you add the oil to avoid turning your engine into an expensive paperweight. Autocar published a road test in February of 1965 and reached a top speed of 88 mph and 0-60 time of 19.1 seconds, Remember to keep the revolutions up and practice your left foot braking to keep momentum in the corners.
The interior looks tidy, and the column mounted four speed would be a hoot. Passengers uninitiated in the sights, sounds and smells of a two stoke should be warned or at least not have heart conditions. The requisite three pedals are included for your pleasure. Make sure you know the Saab secret or you will never be able to remove the key from the ignition. Once the shifter is placed in reverse you should be able to grab the key and lock the doors.
This little Saab has the potential to rally or just cruise. Either way you will be the only one at the pump pouring oil in your tank at each fill up.
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A refugee from the frozen north who loves cars, running and watersports, Adam can be found looking for the next slow car to drive fast when he has access to electronics he hasn't immersed in liquids. He is an analog kid not a digital man.