In spite of a very high regard for your opinions I am concerned that your remarks on the Saab Station Wagon in the current issue of Motor Sport may reflect on the wonderful little Saab 96 saloon. I have not driven the station wagon, but have owned a 96 for the past two years and would not change it for any other car on the International market.
I appreciate that you either love or hate the Saab. In my case 27 DUV is often referred to as “the other woman in my life” and I would like, if I may, to give some of the reasons for this state of affairs.
Even under current traffic conditions I really enjoy driving, and the Saab 96 is the first car I have owned since 1938 which matches my moods and practical requirements. My normal day-to-day driving consists of frequent runs of between two and five miles, and two or three times a month runs of from 60 to 300 miles. The compact dimensions of the 96 combined with excellent handling easily sorts out traffic problems, and fuel consumption under these conditions averages 30 m.p.g. It also appears to me that the fresh oil lubrication of a two-stroke reduces cylinder wear under these stop-and-start conditions. There is only the slightest vibration when halted at, say, traffic lights. It can just be felt through the rim of the wheel, certainly no “jumping about,” and I soon mastered the trick of a smooth pick-up when using the free wheel.
On a long run I find I put up averages of well over 40 without trying, and still observing speed limits and general road safety. I have to use the gears, but I do not mind this, and find that actual acceleration both from rest and for overtaking is better than many sports cars. Handling is very good, steering light and responsive once the car is moving, and brakes excellent. The general silence, more like an electric motor than an i.c. unit, and ride comfort are outstanding, and both my wife and I usually finish a long run feeling fresh and rested. Two recent runs may illustrate my points.
The first was from Kyle of Lochalsh via Spean Bridge, Dalwhinnie, Stirling and Lanark down to Darlington. Speedo. reading for the distance 417 miles. Left Kyle at 10.30 a.m., arrived Darlington 111 p.m., which I make about a 33 1/2 average including stops for lunch, coffee and petrol. We arrived quite fresh and I drove a further 260 miles the next day around the North Riding. A similar run the previous year in a larger and much more powerful sports saloon took 1 1/2 hours longer driving hard, and we had just about “had it” on arrival at Darlington. I must admit that the front seats of the latter car left much to be desired, and that I have put in quite a lot of work on the height and angle of the Saab seats to get them exactly right.
The second run was from Darlington to Cambridge; 214 miles on the clock via the A 1 to just beyond Sawtry, then the A 14 and A 604. Door to door time 4 1/2 hours. This included half-hour for lunch (timed) and a stop for petrol (untimed), and a hold-up in Huntington which lasted between 5 and 10 minutes.
Petrol consumption: Kyle to Darlington approximately 38 m.p.g.; Darlington to Cambridge approximately 45 m.p.g. These are not isolated figures but reasonably constant for any run over 50 miles on average good roads.
Personally, I have no objection to mixing oil with the petrol, and regard it as no more difficult than checking the sump and topping up, but I do stand over the assistant at any filling station and see the oil go into the tank for myself. I count this a small price to pay for the absence of four-stroke complication.
Finally, may I say that everyone connected with the sale and servicing of the Saab with whom I have come in contact appears to be interested in the car and owners, and unusually helpful.
After re-reading that lot I think I should say that my only connection with Saab is that of a well-satisfied owner.
Kenneth M. Gibbs.