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The Saab 96 became a carrot


The Saab 96 became a carrot

In 2016, the Saab 96 had been with this racing car family in Nykroppa, Sweden for 40 years. Rickard was then 15 years old when he bought it and made it to his first project.

“Getting it rolling and inspected before I got my driver’s license at the age of 18,  was my carrot.” he says with a smile. Two weeks before he had his final exam, Sigbritt, as the Saab 96 is called, went through the inspection, almost 2 years later.

Rickard had then spent almost 800 hours welding, at the same time as he studied and worked extra as much as he could, at a metal workshop, just to be able to afford to repair and fix the car. 

saab 96 1965 from behind

“Part of the family that owned the Saab wanted to turn it into a Folkrace car. But the one who actually owned the car on the paper said that he wanted to try to sell it first. If that did not work, then it would have been turned into a Folkrace car. Luckily I bought it. ”

 “When I picked it up, it was in a barn, but had apparently been under a shed that had collapsed. Therefore, it was a perfect birdbath on the roof. I had to fix that dent in the ceiling with a jack, a plywood and Styrofoam. After that, I had to knock a little around the roof with a hammer. Now you can’t even see it. ”

The car was last inspected in 1975 and was parked for unknown reasons in 1976. The plate that sits in the roof rack is the original number it was once sold with in 1964. 

Rickard goes on to say that when they were to pull out the car, the rear end gave way because it was so crunchy and rusty. Today it is barely visible. Rickard needs to point to a little wrinkle on the right back end to understand that something has happened there. The fact that you can not find the small wrinkle can in itself have something to do with Sigbritt’s patina.

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saab 96 1964 front from left

Grandpa’s garage became the Saab 96´s home

During his studies, Rickard´s Saab 96  lived in his Grandpa’s garage, which was minimal. 

“I just got the car into my grandfather’s garage. I had to roll it in so it was only millimeters on one side, while I worked on the other side. Then I had a space like this “, says Rickard and measures just a meter between his hands. 

For almost two years, Rickard worked in his grandfather’s garage repairing all the rust on the car. All in all, he has repaired three wheelhouses, a rear axle tunnel, more than half the floor and the trunk floor. 

He does not really know how much sheet metal was used for the repair, but what he does know is that at least one cut-off Golf 2 roof has been used during the construction underneath the Saab 96 . 

Rickard’s experience of welding was very poor when he acquired the car. So to start a project like this, for a 15-year-old, was very daring.  

Team BessFritt 

“Determination is the driving force. It sometimes happened that I threatened the car that I would put it in a tree when I had enough, although it passed after a week or so and I continued to work on it “, says Rickard with a satisfied smile. 

The first hour of our meeting is just about talking about what has been done with and on the car, because Rickard has almost been screwing, welding or fiddling on every inch of the whole car. 

The car was last inspected in 1975 and was parked for unknown reasons in 1976. The plate that sits in the roof rack is the original number it was once sold with in 1964. 

What strikes me is that in the garage where the Saab stands, it is only in Rickard’s place that there is a classic car. In the other eight places, there are significantly more modern cars from AUDI and BMW. 

“During my school period, when studying vehicle engineering, it was me and another friend who got older cars. Everyone else in the class worked with modern vehicles such as Volvo, AUDI and BMW. ”

“At the same time as I got the Saab, a classmate got a Volvo Amazon and the Swedish state introduced inspection-free vehicles. So then we created Team Bessfritt. (Bess = Inspektion – Fritt = Free – no more inspection. ) ” he says proudly, pointing to the hand-painted text on the side of Sigbritt. 

saab 96 front from below

The goal with the car 

“I build the car so that it is as low as possible and based on the rims on the car.” 

Which you can understand. Those 7 inch OZ Racing rims that sit on Sigbritt really stand out, literally. The car becomes like a pit bull when it stands on the brilliant white, clean and solid racing rims. 

saab 96 front from the left side

“It was also a story to order those.” says Rickard as I squat next to the right front wheel and try to get a finger in between the tire and the fender. 

“It was not just to go in and pick them up at the store. I had to place an order that went to the factory in Italy, where OZ manufactures its rims. After a couple of weeks, I received an email from OZ, where they explained that they do not make rims for my car. There is not even anything like a Saab 96, in their car register. ” 

“I wrote back to them and said – no need to worry I will fix it – the rims will fit. They more or less wanted me to write that: “I will not send this rims back to OZ, due to they have sent me wrong rims.”  As you see, they fit.” 

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saab 96 front right side fender

Two hockey pucks and a 18 cm lowered car

During our conversation, I really noticed Rickard’s determination. How he gets through all situations – such as getting the rims on this car. 

They sit on 25 mm spacers around the whole car and have an ET 42. Which is beautiful on this car. 

“I have rolled out the front fenders with a folding bar so that it is possible to turn.”

“Most of the rear fender is original, but I have had to extend slightly to get it 7 cm wider. Trying to have it look original.”

“Unfortunately it was a little too stingy on the left side, so the wheel did not fit properly. Which I noticed when I was going down to Vimmerby. Others bring tools with them on their travels with classic cars. I brought sheet metal scissors with me because I had a feeling it was too crowded inside of that fender. ”

saab96 hood open left side

“Had to stop along the way and cut a hole in the fender to get all the way.” Rickard says with a quirky smile on his lips and points to the left rear fender.

Rickard tells in the same crank that he lowered the car 18 cm, which makes me react with an open mouth mine, when I look at him. Which makes him immediately pick up the phone and show what she looked like before. Then I really see and understand that he has got her down properly on the ground. 

“At the back there are front legs from a Saab V4 and in front the original legs remain, but with only two hockey pucks as cushioning.”

“I plan to put new legs from a Saab 900 in the front, although it may be during the winter.”

The Saab 96 is a rolling project

Rickard is very humble while we talk about the car and it strikes me that he is a really impatient doer. He tells me that he put in about 100 hours per rear fender and thinks it takes too long, until I ask: Have you done anything similar before? 

He answers “no, of course” and smiles. Everything he does with this car, seems to be the first time for him and then it takes time. 

“It’s a rolling project, so now it looks like it does. But I’ll fix that rear fender  and a little something else this winter. I do what I think is needed on the car at the moment, do not plan that much a head. ” 

dont touch my saab

1200 hours before the inspection

“Before it rolled through the inspection, I wrote down almost all the hours I worked to get this car rolling. When I counted everything afterwards, I counted approximately 1200 hours. “

Then you should know that the entire engine renovation, fender widening, OZ rims application and other small things were not on that list of time. Those things have come to the last two years. 

Plus at least 1000 more hours on this car and you understand the extent of how much time Rickard has actually spent on it. 

saab 96 engine from left side

Burned a piston – Increased engine power by 20%

Rickard did not have any temperature gauge for the exhaust gases in the car when he went up a long long hill. That caused him a melted piston.

“The original pistons have no good focal point and they apparently melt quite easily, which I experienced.”

Then Rickard decided to renovate the entire engine. He drilled it, ported it and completely renovated the crankshaft with new motorcycle bearings and racing connecting rods. On top he did put forged pistons, that is much better than the original.  

3 cylinder saab 96

The exhaust pipe is completely rebuilt from the manifold and backwards. The manifold is 2 inches that goes over to 3 inches, just a small piece, to get the branch to two straight 2.5 inch pipes that then go all the way back. At the back, Rickard has welded a silhouette of an airplane to honor Saab’s history.  

“It was tricky to build that exhaust pipe. Because I did it in Grandpa’s garage too. I had to lie on the floor and measure, saw and weld the system from the engine all the way back, with minimal space to work on. ”

With all these modifications, Rickard estimates that he has increased the power of the engine by about 20%. Which is a huge difference for a car that weighs so incredibly little and has as original – 38 horsepower. 

“With everything done, it’s about 45 horsepower today, I could imagine.” 

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Splashes of original parts 

There are elements of original parts in and on the car. The first you see is when you look into the cabin and notice that the front and rear seat are in top quality. The previous owner did stuff everything away when the car came to them and while it was under the shed and in the barn. Which now afterwards was a real stroke of luck. Because they are fine, whole and well preserved. 

The feeling in the back seat is very spacious for being such a small car with a sloping body. The comfort itself can be discussed, although for being an upholstered rear seat sofa that is more than 60 years old, it is still comfortable. 

speedometer in a saab 96

What stands out when you get in the car is of course the cup holder which is made of an exhaust clamp, drilled through the glove compartment door and a piston from a 750 cubic motor. 

“You have to put a little touch of your own.” says Rickard with a slightly crooked smile as he straightens his Team BessFritt cap. 

In addition to the interior, the drum brakes around the entire car are also original, but of course completely renovated, plastered and painted.  

the saab airplane tribute saab 96

Slips about why the car is not original 

When we stand and talk, stories pop up all the time. Next to everything that has been done on the car is a story. 

The guitar on the roof rack was bought by Rickard’s brother, to help him with the rent. He came across the roof rack when he was going to buy parts at a Spare Shop place and the person behind the counter asked – “What kind of car is it?” To then tell that he has a roof rack at home to a Saab 96. 

But the sad thing, however, is to hear that Rickard gets a lot of glitches and questions, often from older men, why he “damaged and rebuilt” such a beautiful car. 

“It’s my car and I can do whatever I want with it. What gives them the right to approach me  and question my building? ” Rickard says with a serious voice. 

Saab 96 spark plugs

“I often get smirks about destroying my Saab and not keeping the original at various car meetings, in Facebook groups and in general when I come across some Saab person.”

“If I get criticism from someone at a meeting, I usually point to one of all the shiny original Saabs standing in line and asking: is that yours or is that yours or is that yours? Then they usually get a little trumped and leave. ”

It’s so sad to hear what Rickard says when everyone should lift and push people like Rickard to the surface, because that’s our next generation of motor enthusiasts. 

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saab 96 stickers in the back

“In all the meetings I have been to, it has always ended up with an incredible number of people stopping and photographing this car, while the polished cars stand alone in row after a row.” 

“Rather stand out. ” says Rickard, raising his eyebrows and smiles while he is pointing towards Sigbritt. 

Really sad to hear when Rickard takes example after example of these glitches. 

Message from Fascinating Cars: Please stop mastering young abilities and push them to have fun while they are building their cars. 

Rickard J infront of Saab 96

In the garage stands the next project

Next to Rickard’s red Sigbritt is a blown out Saab 92 body. 

“There are a lot of plans to do things with this one. But we will take it this winter. ”

During our conversation, the “to do” list this winter seems to be very long, not only on the Saab 96, the outblown Saab 92, but also on Rickard’s commuter car, a Sasb 9-5 Aero. 

With that said, you know where to find Rickard this winter, and that this is probably not the last thing you will read and see from the determined 20-year-old. 

rickards hand saab96

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Rickards own pictures during the renovation

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3 thoughts on “The Saab 96 became a carrot

  1. Very happy for this young man. It’s people like him that will keep the collecting cars alive. I’m always amazed at how many people are critical of other people’s restoration work. Many cases a car would’ve just been thrown away but somebody spent a lot of work to save it. So make it the way you like it and you will love it!

    1. Tom – I can only agree to what you say.

      Let the creativity and will of restoration be every persons own right, with out being critic against the result.

      Thank you for the comment.


  2. Congratulations to a super cool Saab
    I work on my “Saab 92 Bonneville replica”
    Best regards Claes Meijer

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