Saab 96

Car Crush: Saab 96 made a virtue out of eccentricity

Cars People

Saab made quirky cars for eccentric characters

My headmistress had a Saab 96. In orange.

She was strange. An intellectual misfit. The sort of teacher you used to find in schools of the 1970s. A feminist when feminists were few and far between. Especially in East London. She was full of humour, annoyances and eccentricities, although there was a certain caring tenderness about her that was decidedly absent from the other members of staff. And the orange Saab 96 she drove, therefore, seemed to epitomise everything about her.

Saab launched the 96 at the very start of the 1960s. It is testament to the design’s toughness and durability that it lasted on the forecourts until the very early eighties.

Featuring at first a very simple three cylinder two stroke, later models came with a bomb proof V4 engine that proved itself in the best Swede traditions. It would start up every time below zero. It would run and run and rattle and hum and give the driver a seat of the pants experience very specific and specialist in its taste.

Our head mistress, on occasion, would fill in for the PE teachers – and one day, as an eleven year old, I had the unforgettable experience of hurtling through the East London suburbs to a football match, clinging on for dear life in the back of the Saab while she ranted and raged about Shakespeare, the beautiful game behaviour and various Nordic gods. I remember there was a surprising amount of headroom in the car, despite that hunkered down beetle rear end.

She was always going on about Nordic gods.

It only occurred to me as I write this that there may be some strange connection with her interest in Thor and the like – and her choice of vehicle.

Stay tuned for more as we delve into the hidden meanings of our choice of car brands.

Read more about the Saab 96 here.

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