1973 SAAB 96 Resto Mod

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1973 SAAB 96 Resto Mod

Background

Produced by SAAB between 1960 and 1980, the Saab 96 is a four-seat, two-door sedan which was available with either a two-stroke, three-cylinder or four-cylinder V4 engine, which was longitudinally mounted.

Practicality and style were at the forefront of the 96’s design, though it went on to have an impressive motorsport career also, thanks to its double-wishbone front suspension, light weight and surprising handling, and was driven in numerous RAC and Monte Carlo rallies, most notably by Swede Erik Carlsson.

By contrast, the first generation Saab 9-3 was launched in 1998 whilst Saab were in the care of General Motors (GM) and built at the Trollhattan and Valmet plants, with a claimed 1,100 changes between the then-new 9-3 and the outgoing NG 900, largely centred around the styling and handling of the vehicle.

Now, you may be wondering why we’ve just introduced two cars in one listing, well, get comfy, as all is about to become clear…

The Vehicle

What happens when you mix a well-known, respected Saab tuning company, a rolling (but largely forlorn) Saab 96 shell, the interior and running gear from an ‘OG’ 9-3, and the chassis from a 9-3 convertible, along with a whole lot of creativity? Well, you get this - the Saab 96CC, created by Neo Brothers.

The full thread of the build can be found here: https://www.uksaabs.co.uk/UKS/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=144550&sid=9bc6a8e18d482d9c42e22465c0f765f6 though, for those not looking to sit through pages and pages of builds, setbacks and other issues, please read on for a brief summary…

For those of you unfamiliar with the name Neo Brothers, they’ve made a reputation for themselves as UK-based Saab connoisseurs, sourcing parts and building numerous well-known projects, including a number of other 96-based cars, one of which is currently making the rounds on the modified car scene as a promotional vehicle for a detailing company, and another which was built as an out-and-out race car.

Specifically, this build was designed to be a more laid-back, road-going cruiser, with a wide-body shell and based upon first-generation 9-3 running gear. Naturally, that didn’t seem challenging enough, so the roof was chopped (1930’s hot-rod style) and numerous other upgrades were fitted, including tuning to the suspension system (with numerous Bilstein and Powerflex components) and to the power plant.

For those in the know, roof chops are incredibly labour-intensive and can be a tricky process to get right. As you can see in the thread, however, this work was carried out to a very high standard, with the car being correctly braced before the cut was made, to ensure it did not deform or lose strength. In total, the front windscreen was lowered by 75mm, and the rear by 125mm, which also required changing the profile of the doors to match the new roof line.

The underside of the 9-3 Convertible chassis was entirely stripped, sealed with rubberised paint and sprayed in Carbon Grey. The axles and sub-frames were blasted before being re-assembled, and the custom wide arches and front bumper valence were fabricated by Neo Brothers.

The engine is, specifically, a B204 lump from the donor 9-3, mated to the original automatic transmission. Inside, the cabin is a mix of 9-3 coupé and cabriolet parts, with areas such as the rear seats being trimmed to fit the smaller confines of the 9-6 shell, along with the dashboard.

Having been completed to a very high standard, the icing on the cake is that Neo Brothers were able to correctly register it as a 96, meaning it retained its original registration and benefits from being classed as a historic vehicle, making it road tax and MoT exempt.

On the Outside

Finished in 301 Carbon Grey, we have to admit we love the way this 96CC looks, and it has been finished very well indeed by Neo Brothers.

The wide-arch body, chopped roof line and custom front end certainly look the part and evoke the style of 1930’s hot rods, but with a definite Swedish flavour. The 96 is already a great-looking car, and this resto-mod simply turns it up to 11, to quote Spinal Tap.

Looking closer, the paintwork is in excellent condition throughout with only a few marks (such as stone chips) here-and-there, the most notable of which have been documented in the gallery below. The bodywork is free from any impact damage that we can see, though there are a few panels which are mildly mis-aligned, which is a by-product of the shell having been modified, despite all precautions having been taken by Neo Brothers.

Specifically, the boot and bonnet gaps are uneven, and the doors require a pretty hefty shove to close correctly, though the latter of these issues may simply be down to lack of use. The bonnet catch is also temperamental, always opening correctly but being tricky to shut correctly.

All four of the steel wheels are in excellent condition with no damage, and wrapped in matching rubber. Similarly, the glass is all free of damage, with only a few marks noted on the NSR window. The light lenses are in great shape, though the nearside rear light unit is cracked, as seen in the photos below.

On the Inside

Compared to the dramatic exterior modifications, the cabin initially looks decidedly normal, being largely based on the 9-3 which also supplied the running gear for the car. The dashboard and rear seats have been cut down and narrowed to fit the new shell, and the result is rather impressive.

The seats are all in generally good condition, though both front seats show typical wear to the outer bolsters, commensurate for the age of vehicle that donated the parts. The outer edges of the dashboard show wear, whilst the door cards are custom-made but mis-matching.

Whilst all of the driving systems work correctly (though there is an unusual relay ticking noise that goes off constantly every 10-20 seconds whilst driving) the electric window switches are obviously inoperable (the 96 has manual window winders) and the radio works normally.

In the boot, there are some signs of wear and usage, but nothing too major, and the spare is mounted underneath the floor, along with a small tool kit and scissor jack.

Underneath

Having been stripped, sealed and painted as part of the resto-mod process, the underside of this 96cc is in outstanding condition, and it appears the vehicle has seen only light use since the project was completed.

There are a few areas of surface bloom on the second-hand exhaust system, but otherwise it would appear all this chassis needs is a good jet-washing and it would be showroom fresh once again.

Out on the road, the car drives fantastically well, with no odd behaviours, noises or driving characteristics. In fact, it drives almost identically to any other Saab this author has been behind the wheel of, and the standard exhaust means that it makes an excellent cruiser without the usual discomfort associated with heavily modified cars, and the upgraded suspension system is impressively compliant.

During our photo shoot, the car was happy to sit and idle for extended periods of time, and the radiator fans cycled on-and-off as required, with the car staying at a comfortable temperature.

History Highlights

Other than the above build thread, there is very little in the way of history with this 96CC. 

UPDATE: The seller has located & provided us with the most recent V5c which shows this Saab as a historic vehicle. Please see a photo of the V5C in the gallery. We do have an MoT exemption document but the car was tested most recently in February 2020, and shows a clean pass with no advisory items.

What We Think

Unique, one-off and head-turning, this is a fantastic resto-mod which has been carried out to a high standard by a well-known Saab specialist, and as such is certain to draw a crowd wherever it goes.

With numerous custom parts and bodywork, upgraded suspension systems and an impressively normal driving experience, this is a genuinely usable modernised take on a classic Swedish hot-rod.

Offered with NO RESERVE and estimated to reach in the region of £15,000 to £25,000 this is a slice of Saab tuning history, and would make an eye-catching daily driver or weekend cruiser for any enthusiast.

Try and find another!

Viewing is always encouraged, and this car is located at our headquarters near Abingdon; we are open weekdays between 9am-5pm, so to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing to make an appointment. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

masters

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Chassis Number: 96732007476
  • Engine: 1985
  • Gearbox: Auto
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Grey
  • Interior: Grey
  • Estimated Price: £15,000 - £25,000

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