1972 SAAB 96 1.5 V4


Both an obselete and timeless design


Two gearboxes. One failed rear bearing, one freewheel.

A couple of alternators wore out brushes - normal.

Various body areas needed welding. All doable.

Various very obscure stuff related to its very high mileage.

General Comments:

Great visibility. Great gear change. Looks good from every angle.

Great handling, especially on twisty country roads.

Plenty of space in front for 6 footers.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th February, 2015

14th Mar 2015, 19:34

The lightly built and short geared transmission was originally designed for SAAB's 2 stroke engine, which was high-revving and didn't make much torque. The much larger 4 stroke V4 fitted to later model cars made way more torque than the old engine, and SAAB didn't have the money to design a stronger transmission.

1967 SAAB 96 V4 1.5


Brilliant - wish they still made them


Clutch failed 5 times in 27 years, but the car can be driven without the clutch due to the freewheel, if you start in first & switch the engine off at lights.

Engine needed rebuilding at 210,000 miles as the oil warning light glowed on tickover.

Cylinder head cracked at 290,000 miles due to overheating, & spare head gaskets are no longer available for early engines, so had to fit a later engine.

Lots of other things went wrong in 27 years ownership, but due to its robust build quality, the car was always worth fixing, especially as I only paid £5 to buy it.

Body rusted in many areas, and I spent roughly £400 on welding repairs each year.

General Comments:

A really brilliant design. Superb steering column gear change combined with freewheel and superb handling to make it one of the most enjoyable drives ever.

The V4 engine has a delightful engine note, sort of a burble that builds to a steady thrum, nice to listen to on a long journey.

On the downside, car was very under geared so was flat out at 85 and drank fuel at 70. Best speed was about 55 when it would do about 35 to the gallon.

Body panels were very thick and strong, so rust took a long time to come through.

Seats fold forward so the car is able to carry long loads & the boot area is huge.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th September, 2009

18th Dec 2009, 23:03

1967: SAAB96V4, early model. Not a total HOS, but close. Had one from new. Inner drive shaft joint and gearbox bearings failed by 7,000 miles. And naturally dealers wriggled out of warranty commitment until the one-year/12,000 miler period was up. Brake lines inside was a good idea, but only if the windscreen didn't leak. In my case, brake and fuel lines simply became rusty sooner. Supposedly had a built-in rollover bar, but never had the opportunity to confirm.

Good traction in snow for a front wheel drive. Needed a special puller for the rear brakes. Swinging caliper meant front pads came as a set of four, rather than two sets of two. But did stop well. Nice paint quality. Not much performance (65bhp). Understandable considering the drive joint and gearbox weakness. Front suspension a little soft, but you could replace with cut-down Toyota coils. Column gear change was not a problem, but never used the free-wheel device. Essentially turned me off SAAB for life. Sold it at 17,000 miles and went to Japan. “It was my karma”. So not sorry to read of SAAB's demise. When you spend some £700 of your hard-earned money at age 25, you tend to take being ripped-off a little personally.

1972 SAAB 96 V4 1.5 V4


Crazy Old-school Saab


The speedometer has never worked.

Brake master cylinder went just before 2004's MOT was due. Plus some welding on the rear N/S sill and new rear brake cylinders had to be fitted.

Petrol pipe in the engine perished- easy to fix thankfully.

Clutch master cylinder went and required a rebuild. (why the master cylinders?)

Clutch and brake pipes perished just before 2005's MOT, that was when we got rid of it because it was getting a bit beyond our budget. The handbrake broke as well then.

The horn contact on the steering wheel was worn and required adjustment to get the horn working again.

Apart from the rust on the sills, it had only slight surface rust on the rest of the body work, which was good for the year.

The auto choke got stuck in the off position and caused the car not to start. My dad managed to fix it though.

Most of these problems were age related and considering it was 33 years old when we got rid of it, it did quite well.

The alternator was on the way out as the lights were a bit flickery and the orange charge light was on dim most of the time.

General Comments:

The car really did go some and the acceleration in first and second was great.

It used to get odd looks from pedestrians!

The seats were very comfortable, especially the rear one.

The heater was very good, it used to heat up in about two minutes of the car being started, very good for the winter.

The column gear change was fun.

Good sized boot for the size of the car.

The original seats were a very nice dark green, but were a bit tattered due to the previous owners having a dog in the car.

Overall, it was a very nice car to own, but in the end we just couldn't afford the repairs so we donated it to a place that deals with old cars like it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th July, 2005

31st Jul 2005, 14:44

It was given to us by my aunt so it wasn't like we got ripped off or anything :)

23rd Oct 2010, 11:03

I had several of those old V4 Saabs for years, and they did get old and parts wore out. But I had lots of spare parts from others of same model, and loved them, although one had to be his own mechanic at times. But I live in a rust-belt, and when the bottoms rusted out, and I couldn't get them welded up again, I had to let them go (usually over 200,000 miles by then).

Every model of car has its weak points, and if one knows what they are, one may deal with them better. It is interesting that some of these little quirks would happen on other cars of the exact same model at approximately the same mileage; I'd have stories to tell, but that would require a different forum and perhaps a different website, one devoted to that particular model of car.

11th Nov 2013, 06:48

The SAAB 96's gearbox bearing problems stem from winding up in the indirects, which causes the alloy gearbox casing to distort, leading to bearing failure. Outrageous that SAAB should have cut corners like this.

1972 SAAB 96 1.5


Overall an elegant, fun and bulletproof practical classic


The radiator was clogged when I first got it, so I have replaced it with a new one.

There was a small leak in the fuel pipe.

The headlight washers don't work!

General Comments:

Before I got this car it had been sitting for over a year outside.

It passed it's MOT first time, and apart from a couple of things directly related to it sitting for so long (the radiator in particular), it has been faultless.

It's narrow carriage and column gearshift encourages a 'relaxed' driving style, but the V4 engine has good pull away from low revs.

The top speed isn't great, with 70 really being the most comfortable cruising speed, but even motorway driving is comfortable and relaxed.

The interior is functional and comfortable, with quirky touches that are interesting rather than annoying.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th August, 2004