This is an original two-stroke Saab 96 engine, an unusual inline 3-cylinder design with a displacement of 841cc and up to 52 bhp depending on the variant.
Rally driver Erik Carlsson would pilot a Saab 96 to many major wins, including outright victory in the 1962 and 1963 Monte Carlo Rallies. He also won the 1960, 1961, and 1962 RAC Rallies. Drivers Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund would later take wins in the International Swedish Rally in Saab 96s as late as the mid-1970s.
The Saab 96 debuted in 1960 and remarkably, it remained in production for 20 years until 1980. The small, lightweight, front wheel drive design was ideal for use in snowy Scandinavia where the car remained a best-seller, its quirky styling and unusual drivetrain options helping cement it as a true classic.
The 96 was developed as a successor to the Saab 93 of the 1950s, it offered slightly more interior space but the styling was very similar – in fact the two models are often mistaken for one another.
At the time of its release the 96 was powered by an inline 3-cylinder two-stroke engine that was installed longitudinally right at the very front of the engine bay. Power was sent back to a 3 or 4-speed manual transmission that powered the front wheels.
Having the mass of the engine and transmission directly over the wheels that were responsible for both steering and propulsion meant that the Saab 96 was well-suited to slippery, muddy, and snowy conditions.
As a lightweight, front wheel drive car its back-to-back wins at the 1962 and 1963 Monte Carlo Rallies came before the Mini Cooper S, another lightweight front wheel drive car, began its famous slew of wins in 1964.
In 1967 Saab began producing a version of the 96 that was powered by a Ford Taunus V4 engine. It was the ideal choice due to its short length, meaning it would fit into the Saab 96 engine bay with no major modifications.
This engine would be used for the rest of the production run, and earlier two-stroke Saab 96s are now considerably more rare.
The Saab 96 engine you see here is one of the earlier two-stroke units, these produced between 38 and 52 bhp depending on the state of tune, with the racing versions producing more still. This engine is fitted to a test stand which allows it to be run. It is fitted to a 4-speed manual transmission, and it has a radiator, exhaust, battery, a small fuel tank, and a simple control panel.
It’s current being offered for sale on Bring a Trailer out of Raleigh, North Carolina with no reserve. You can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
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