Reader Submissions: Rally-Tuned Saab Exceeds College Memories

Rally-Tuned Saab Exceeds College Memories

By Petrolicious Productions
September 22, 2014

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.

Want to see your vintage car on Petrolicious? Click here for more information.

Join the Conversation
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 years ago

Great story and the very best colour that the 96 came in (the same as mine 🙂 )

Rob Ells
Rob Ells
7 years ago

Growing up in Maine in the seventies, this was my first car. Same year and color. My dad bought it new for about $2700 I think. Wow, what a fun car. It had a “free wheeling” option where there would be no engine braking when you let off the gas. The car would just coast. I actually did some auto crossing with it. It would pull hard around those cones but there was lots of body roll. One snowy night I even rolled it completely over and drove away with only the driver door panel pushed in. Dad was not happy but he pulled the dent out with a toilet plunger. It was a unique and very cool car.

Keith Kenitzer
Keith Kenitzer(@p912guy)
7 years ago

Growing up in southern Wisconsin, we had a Swedish family in the neighborhood, or at least they had a very Swedish sounding last name, and they drove Saab’s exclusively. I will always remember seeing them drive their Saab 96, very similar to this one. As I remember, they must have driven that car daily for at least 15 years, if not more, and each time I saw it, I marveled at how cool it was compared the all the other basic Fords, Chevy’s and Mopars in the neighborhood. That Saab and a early 70’s 914 driven by an ENT Doc were the cars I looked for every day. Thanks for sharing. I would love to see this featured in a Petrolicious video.

Art Harvey
Art Harvey
7 years ago

Aha! The Porsche has the engine to the rear of the rear axle driving the rear wheels… Porsche obviously must have copied a Saab going in reverse!! Cheers!

7 years ago

Glorious color, on a simply great looking machine. Next time, you need to park it next to a suitable plane! Neko.