In port cities there tends to be a wee bit more diversity in the classic cars one finds on the streets. Not everything slides into Camaro, Mustang and Cadillac territory. Liberal cities tend to have a bit of diversity in citizenry, and the heritage of such cultures might mean that there’ll be an eccentric offering showing a glimpse of history.
There’s this surprise of this Swedish Station Wagon that did more with far less than your average Country Squire that I found in the lush bushes of Rockridge recently. Stuffing plenty of capacity for buyers that might have a penchant for such a tiny meatball of a car was the calling card of this model for more than a decade.
Although Volvo proved to be the far more popular Swede with stateside import car consumers, Saab proved no slouch in terms of innovation and daring.
Where Volvo relied on rear wheel drive and stout overhead valve four and six cylinder engines that wouldn’t befuddle someone decided to move up to a 144 instead of a Cutlass Supreme, Saab through Front Wheel Drive, Two Stroke 3 Cylinders coughing clouds of black smoke or V4’s borrowed from Ford of Germany.
By the time our subject 95 wagon was sold, it was befitted with the 1.5 Liter version of the Taunus V4 to keep up with the demands of a more emissions conscious world, alongside demands for a bit more ummph to pull the works along.
In the 95 wagons it offered 65 horsepower and acceleration to 60 in the mid teens range, comparable still to ordinary compact six cylinder cars coming out of Detroit, and competitors from around the globe.
With the increased power came other upgrades that proved more rational than what Motown offered in their more muscular beasts. Where cars with 400+ cube V8s could still routinely be saddled with drum brakes at all corners, the Saab 95 and 96 outfitted their modest in comparison output jumps with disc brakes up front.
All of these factors lined up with the Rally-Proven formula that had seen Saab build success from it’s 92 and 93 lines towards the companion 96. The 95 added a blessed versatility to the snobbish eccentricity that captured the minds and hearts of the overly intellectual pontificator looking for something full of oddball features to brag about over cocktails as the swinging sixties turned into the “Me” decade.
Within the short stubby body befinned with American tributes like a tailfinned rump sat cargo capacity remarkably voluminous, or if desired, seating for seven in a footprint smaller than anything offered from the United States. Honestly a full house 95 would neither be too comfortable for the average American Family of 1968 (or now) nevermind being rather taxing on the mechanical capabilities of this little charm from the northern lands.
Quirky and a specialized item, yes. Saab continued to import it long past its freshness date to the United States. While the more modern Saab 99 debuted a year later, the 95 wagon continued to push onwards in the US, next to the 96 and Sonnet, through 1973. Soldiering on through 1978, over 110,000 of these curious cargo carriers were maid over nearly 20 model years. Diversity does breed longevity, as we should note from this sassy Saab Station Wagon, now an orphan without a parent, that there’s strength and solidarity in alternate numbers.
2 thoughts on “(Found In) Rockridge (Oakland, California): 1968 Saab 95 Station Wagon”
Such a ‘Saab’ story, Laurence (sorry, could not resist). Interesting history about a seldom seen car. Can’t be too many of these left around so this was quite a find.
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It’s decidedly the first one I’ve seen not in a Saab-specific repair shop (which there is one in West Berkeley with a heap of 95’s and 96’s). Here’s hoping it gets regular love and action.