For two years, since I bought one, I have been hoping that your excellent magazine would publish some correspondence about Saabs, partly because other owners are not often met, partly because they seem to me unusually interesting cars. Now, your own vigorous comments on the Estate version in the September number provoke me to start in the hope that others will also write to you.
First of all let me say that I bought a Saab 96 saloon after using a VW and find its cornering, acceleration, space, silence (especially with the windows open) and petrol consumption much better. The Saab needs more frequent servicing of plugs and brakes; the Goodyear tyres were changed at 28,000 miles, and the engine has so far done 30,000 miles untouched and sounds very cheerful. The Saab’s paintwork is not as tough as a VW’s, and it needs a fourth gear for Autobahns. Two early British-built gearboxes which quickly developed a noise in the final drive were replaced free of charge.
Some of your criticism suggests you forgot the Saab was bred on Swedish snow, though in an earlier and more enthusiastic article, Motor Sport, if not yourself personally, seemed to have visited the factory. For example, in normal English weather, with a narrow temperature range the radiator blind is unnecessary except to keep a downpour off the distributor, but it was a very different matter last winter when without a garage, starts were instantaneous, the windows free of frost and the inside snug very quickly. As you say, the brake pedal pressure needed is high, but because of this the wheels don’t lock on ice and you can push on when everyone else is sliding about. “This petroil nonsense” which you castigate can equally be described as no more expensive than other people’s medium grade fuel, and never any nonsense with dipsticks, topping up and changing oil. I wonder if it’s fair to judge the cornering of an estate car against a Morris 1100 saloon except as an unintended compliment.
Finally, I took this Saab over the tough Liobl Pass and down the cart tracks of Yugoslavia to Athens, averaging 40 m.p.g., and only needed a set of harder plugs in 6,000 miles. When my family expands, I shall probably have a Peugeot 403 Station Wagon unless Saab fit a 1,200 c.c. Auto-union-like motor in theirs. To my mind, the crucial criticism of the 95b, which you didn’t make, is that no one in their senses asks a mini-sized engine to pull a bus. I hope your comments and mine wake them up.