NO Beetle – 1969 Saab 96

If you’re an extrovert, owning any older car is fun, but cars like the Saab 96 are particularly fun in that way – no doubt, plenty of people will come up to you and ask about your weird little car, and if you’re fortunate enough to have a two-stroke one, they’ll wonder what that weird noise/smell is, or why you’re putting oil in the gas. In 1967, though, Saab moved on to the V4, and by 1969 you could no longer get a two-smoke in your 96, but that probably won’t keep people coming up to you if you decide to drive this 1969 Saab 96 for sale for $3500 in Portland, OR.

1969 Saab 96 left front

For some reason, these are frequently confused with Beetles, though perhaps that’s only because most people don’t know how else to describe the unusual looks. This slightly off-white is a great color for these Saabs, and works especially well when somewhat dog-eared like this example. Sure, it’s no looker, but it’s the seller’s daily driver, and is said to have been carefully maintained. It sports a stock 1.7-liter V4 with a Weber carburetor, and this car is said to have free-wheeling, which the seller claims allows clutchless gear shifting (isn’t that possible with any car if you know how to rev-match?). Note the odd camber on the rear wheel.

1969 Saab 96 right rear

Other improvements include Pertronix electronic ignition, a fairly recent radiator with upgraded core, custom Y-pipe exhaust and Koni shock absorbers. Tires still have 3/4 of their tread left – though with claims of limited driving, perhaps have aged over the 7-year guideline – and the wheels have been restored, an affordable and easy way to sharpen up cosmetics. As you can see, cosmetics are a little rougher, with flaking paint and rust spotting, but all trim (barring a couple strips on the driver’s side) is present, and glass is said to be in good shape. Bumpers look a little bent up, but that’s not a disaster unless you’re planning on restoration.

1969 Saab 96 interior

The interior looks absolutely usable, if not factory correct, and is tastefully done to match the door panels. While the dash has some cracking, the instrument panel is complete and even features a period radio. It’s also nice to see factory rubber mats on the floors. In all, this should be a pretty good place to spend time, and with any luck the only smells and sounds will be related to that magical combination of vinyl and oil with a faint hint of exhaust gas.

1969 Saab 96 engine

Speaking of the smells of internal combustion, here’s the engine. It certainly looks to live up to its billing, with an engine that looks clean enough within the constraints of being a driver. Surely there must be a more sneaky way of filtering the air that doesn’t look so generic, though maybe you’re not thinking of that when you’re listening to that intake snorting with 1699cc of fury. While it’s hard to reconcile the description of the car as daily driver, but the later statement of it not being driven much, perhaps that just means the seller doesn’t commute to work with a car. Either way, if you’re looking for a usable classic that will spur conversations, this appears a good candidate.


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