The Saab 96 was in production for 20 years from 1960, until replaced by the Saab 93. Over half a million were produced.
The Saab 96 was rallied very successfully in Europe in the 1960’s & 1970’s by the Saab works teams in both Sweden & Finland. Saab started rallying the model 95, with a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine. The 96 also had a 2 stroke engine when released in 1960, but moved in 1967 (in somewhat controversial circumstances) to a Ford V4 engine, as this car has.
The transmission is also interesting. On engine over-run, The clutch will ‘free wheel’, meaning the transmission can run faster than the engine. This was an engineering solution to an oil starvation problem when using the 2 stroke engines. This system allows the engine to return to idle when the driver lifts off the throttle. Otherwise, the engine would run at high revs on over-run, but with the throttle closed and no fuel to deliver the oil for the two stroke engine, there was a lubrication problem. the system was retained even though the engine became a 4 stroke and had no such oil lubrication problems.
This system had the side benefit that the clutch was only need to move the car from stopped. Gear changes could be made by just lifting off the throttle.
This Saab 96 is built as a replica of Finish driver Simo Lampinen’s car, in 1000 Lakes rally livery.
This car is a new restoration and has just completed its first event, the 3 day Black Stump Rally in N.S.W.
This car, original UK registration LRX828E, was built at the BMC competition department in Abingdon to contest the 1967 European Rally Championship.
Its first event was the Acropolis Rally, crewed by Rauno Aaltonen/Henry Liddon. Their event ended with a head-on collision with a spectator car.
Not much better on their second event, the 2000 mile Danube rally, when in a winning position, Aaltonen was refused entry to Hungary for not having the correct visa.
The car was sold to BMC Australia who ordered a pair from the competitions department to contest the 1967 Southern Cross International Rally. LRX828E was driven by Paddy Hopkirk but the gearbox failed 700 miles into the event.
In 1968, UK works driver Tony Fall drove the car to a win in the Total Australia 500 rally. Again it was entered for the Southern Cross, crewed by Evan Green/George Shepherd, but again broke a gearbox, this time at the Amaroo Park special stage.
Rallying was banned in N.S.W. in 1969 (due to an agricultural foot and mouth disease scare) and the rally cars were sold off.
This car was bought by BMC Ballarat dealer E. Collins Motors.
The current owner bought the car in 1971 who used it in competition for a time. It has since restored it to its original BMC competitions department specifications.
Banner pic: This Austin Cooper S – despite the Morris badge – at the 1967 Danube Rally.