Saab 96 V4

The Saab 96 was produced between 1960 and 1980.

Early cars were powered by a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine, but from 1967 a ford V4 unit was introduced into a slightly extended bonnet line.

All the cars shared a similar 2 door layout, with a distinctive aerodynamic shape.

Saab 96 leads Sunbeam, final bend Oulton Park. 1962.









Saab cars today are fast luxury saloons with big engines and high top speeds, but back in the 1960's & 70's Saab made smaller tough little cars with modest engines, designed to withstand the harsh winters of Scandinavia. The cars were all front wheel drive, a little strange but well thought out and practical.









What the cars lacked in horsepower (the first 2-strokes only had 25bhp), the cars made up for by being lightweight, small, aerodynamic and fast round the corners. They were capable of high average speeds in many conditions.

Most important was their winter driving characteristics; they were front wheel drive and had the weight at the front for good traction. They had narrow tyres, low power, a free-wheel, good brakes and a good heater. All this made the car a sensible choice for a Scandinavian Winter.


My Saab out and about in the winter of 2009


Saab in Rallying.

The same properties that made the Saab 96 a good winter car also made it a successful rally car, in fact the shell was so strong that it could be rallied without additional roll over protection. Erik Carlsson was Saab's number 1 driver and he drove to many rally victories in a 96. The cars being short on power, struggled on tarmac stages like Monte-Carlo where Mercedes and Porsche had the edge; but on the special stages through forests and on loose surfaces the Saabs could maintain high top speeds.









" had road holding far ahead of any other car. With a small engine and heavy body it shouldn't have won but it had good road holding and good brakes. It didn't matter what condition the road was snow, ice, gravel; if you were stupid enough to keep your foot down -  nothing could follow you."

Erik Carlsson, on a 1962 2-stroke.









Saab rallied the 96 into the 70's. The final V4 cars had much more power at 165bhp and although this was significantly less than ford with their 240bhp cars, Saab was still seen as a serious contender and one of the teams to beat. Saab demonstrated that power wasn't all that was required to win a rally - you needed reliability, dedicated drivers and good road holding to be successful.