The Saab 96 was the follow-up to the 93 and was built from 1960 through January of 1980. It had larger, more accessible storage, a big rear window, and seating for four with a sleek, aerodynamic design. During its impressive 20-year run, over 500,000 examples of this cute Scandinavian runabout were built.
It was powered by a longitudinally mounted engine that was initially a 38 horsepower, 3-cylinder, 2-stroke. That horsepower increased to 40 by 1965 with an optional 57 horsepower variant available on only the Sport and Monte Carlo models of the car. By 1967, the 96V4 had a Ford Taunus V4 engine with 65 horsepower.
That V4 was used until 1976 when the 96L model took the stage with a horsepower reduction. Swedish emission regulations forced a horsepower dip to 62, but by 1977 a two-stage Solex 32TDID carburetor helped it all the way up to 68 horsepower. The 96 originally came with only three available gears, later becoming a 4-speed with a freehweel that was maintained throughout the car’s production run.
A 96 was also driven by Erik Carlsson in many international rallies including 1960-62 RAC rallies and 1962 and 1963 Monte Carlo rallies. This helped give the car a reputation for reliability. It also set a land speed record long after the end of its production. On August 16, 2011, a 1966 96 driven by Alex LaFortune reached 110.113 mph setting a record for stock body production cars with 750 cc engines, proving that “cute” can also be “fast” too!