Featured: This Saab 96 is the Perfect Fit For Its Teenaged Owner

This Saab 96 is the Perfect Fit For Its Teenaged Owner

By Petrolicious Productions
May 4, 2015

Owner & Photographer: Aidan O’Callaghan

Seventeen-year-old Aidan O’Callaghan ended his note to us with, “I may just have the coolest, and certainly oldest, car at college.” A 1972 Saab 96 isn’t the typical pick of a teenager, however, but there’s a bit of method in the madness for O’Callaghan.

Born into an enthusiast-led family—his father is on his sixth Saab—O’Callaghan has always loved the styling of the 96, especially with rally lights on the front to remind him of a childhood toy: a Saab 96 rally car.

“I’ve always been interested in cars,” O’Callaghan writes, “and this is my first one. It’s in rather good condition for its age, with a few typical problems—it’s not a Concours car but a wonderful driver.”

He bought the car from a Morgan Dealer in Watford, U.K., at the back of the Harry Potter Studios—certainly an interesting location to be hiding some Swedish metal. Now studying agriculture in college, it’s the perfect time machine to indoctrinate nonbelievers into the Saab family.

“What I love about the car is how underrated it is, and how many people want to stop and talk about it,” O’Callaghan says. “When I first bought the car, a few people turned their noses up at it but after seeing it and going for a ride, the car really changes their opinion of the Saab brand.”

With good music on the radio, O’Callaghan says back country roads are where the car shines—and if you’re ever near Bedford, England, they’re where you’ll probably find this teenager in his classic Saab 96.

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6 years ago

I had this car in a wagon, it is the 95. What a great car! Tons of fun to drive and it always started. Put almost 50K on it through college, really miss that car!

Brian Hart
Brian Hart
8 years ago

This is my 1964 Monte Carlo clone. Nobody knows what it is and that makes it a Very cool car.

Phil Auldridge
Phil Auldridge
8 years ago

Oh yeah,
I just, on spur of the moment, acquired a ’67 Saab 96. This is the original version with 2 cycle 3 cylinder engine. Wildly impractical (you have to pour 2 cycle oil in the gas tank at every fill up), and on paper grossly underpowered, this is just a gem of a car. At only a bit over 1800 lbs (less than my MGA roadster), it is light and agile, and that little “stroker” engine revs like there is no tomorrow, belying its 44 stated horsepower. With 4-on-the-tree, all synchromesh transmission, triple carburetors (one for each cylinder) light and accurate rack and pinion steering, and hydraulic clutch, this car is a joy to drive.

It sticks to the corners like the proverbial flapjack in a frying pan (thanks Tom McCahill) with nary a lean, yet the suspension irons out the road bumps like a vintage Cadillac.

The freewheeling feature of the drivetrain makes the clutch unnecessary except for initial takeoff and stops. In between, assuming correct driving speeds, just keep your left foot flat on the floor and gently choose the gear of your choice, confident you want hear a single protest from the transmission.

And EVERYTHING about this car was designed for quick and easy maintenance. I just changed out the front brake hoses (probably original), and it took me about 10 minutes for each side!

Slip the rear seat back out of its location, and the pass-through trunk can easily accommodate my full size stand up bass.

Roll both windows all the way down (or anywhere in between) and cruise at freeway speeds without having a hair blow out of place.

This baby brings the total number of cars and bikes in our garage to an even 20, and I have to say that this little jewel is generally my transportation of choice. It is my no means a restored garage queen. Yes, rebuilt engine, clutch, and brakes, but otherwise the exterior displays the “patina” of its 48 year life, with all the zits, dings, scrapes and oxidation.

But pull it into a Ferrari club meet parking lot, and watch spectators abandon all the 430’s 458’s, etc, in favor of inspecting this homely but sturdy little Swedish automotive anomaly. Nothing else like it, ever, then, or now!

Gavin Clark
Gavin Clark
8 years ago

Great car and would be the coolest in most car parks….never mind a college one!

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