Rally-Tuned Saab Exceeds College Memories
Owner and photographer: Øystein Engen
Year, Make, and Model: 1971 Saab 96 V4
Location: Hamar, Norway
I have been interested in cars for as long as I can remember. I bought my first car, a 1969 Saab V4, in June 1979. It was a short ownership as I had to sell it when I returned to my studies that autumn. The following year, when I graduated, I bought my second Saab V4. It was a 1974, Verona Green. The car was a daily driver for thirty-seven years. This car was utterly reliable, and never caused any problems.
In 2002 I began searching for another V4. The Saab-feeling had really gotten to me and I was out to find an example in top condition. I searched the marked and put several ads in Swedish car magazines. There was some response but none was up to my standards. In September 2004, however, things changed and by November the car was in my garage.
This is a 1971, sold new in Östersund in September 1970. The first owner had it until 1989 and must have used it with great care. After that it stayed in Trollhättan for fifteen years until I bought it. The second owner was a car collector and this car was one of his favourites. Unlike his other cars, this one was never restored. It is original, even the paint. He hardly drove the car, he just took care of it and upgraded it with original accessories, like the US-front, Ronal wheels, pop out windows, etc. Thanks to the car’s exceptionally good condition, the rare accessories and the colour (Silvermink, available in 1971 only), the car is one of a kind!
As you may know old Saabs were successful rally racers. Due to this, Saab made and sold tuning kits to the public back in the seventies. I have collected parts over the years and in 2006 it was all in place. So I built a new 1700 cc engine with the original tuning kit from Saab as described in the Sport & Rally catalogue from 1971. Additionally, there has been some extra work done on the cylinder heads. The engine produces in excess of 100 bhp and, compared to the standard 1500 cc’s 65 bhp, it is quite a difference! I also built a new gearbox for the car with a slightly higher final ratio (from the Sonett III) and it also has the first and second gear-set from Saab’s competition gear-set, Special 1. This makes for a higher first and second gear, making the car even more fun to drive. I have also fitted the car with overhauled, original, adjustable red Koni shocks. This improves the road-holding, and in fact the ride comfort too.
The car is at its best on smaller winding roads, when the excellent road holding comes to life. Build quality is very good, solid Swedish steel. In many ways it has a lot in common with the early Porsche 911, but of course the platform is completely different, this one has the engine in front of the front axle driving the front wheels. I am still I contact with the previous owner and believe that the social network is an important aspect to the car hobby.
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