Keeping it in the family – Saab 96

We have the coolest fans in the world. So many good stories to tell.

A few days ago, I was outside getting a breath of fresh air (ahem!) when a beautiful, blue Saab 96 turned up at the front gate. The car stopped and a familiar, smiling face got out to say hello.

I first met Hans Thing at the Saab Festival last year. He was at the festival with his son, Jacob, who had just finished rebuilding a Saab 92 – by himself – finishing the job at the tender age of just 19. It was my favourite story from the festival and if you want to see some impressive work, click that link and check out the images of the rebuild.

Here’s Jacob at the festival last year, with Erik Carlsson and Jacob’s Saab 92.

Hans is Jacob’s father and he called by the Saab factory gate for a visit because his family stopped in Trollhattan for a few days on their way to Finland for the 2011 IntSaab gathering (can’t wait to get there myself!).

I’ve written about their family obsession with restoring and preserving Saabs once before, so it was great for me to see one of their collection first hand. Even better is the story behind it.

This car – a 1970 model Saab 96 – has been in Hans’ life since 1976. That’s a long time but it’s not too unusual. What’s a little different is that the 96 has come in and out of his life several times over those 35 years.

Check out the history:

  • Purchased in 1976 for 900 Euro. 120,000kms on the clock and lots of rust in the body. Everything that needed it was renewed and the car repainted. Converted to LPG and the sold for 2,500 Euro to a friend when the work was all finished.
  • 11 years and another 300,000kms later, the friend called back – the car needed to be restored once again. Hans bought the car back and it became one of the family’s daily drivers for the next four years.
  • The car was taken apart (again) during this time. All the rust was removed/replaced and the whole body was hot-galvanised and repainted in Iridium Blue. An update to look like the 1980 model was completed at this time, along with the fitting of a 1700cc engine and some Saab 900 seats to match the paint. This work was completed in 1993.
  • That same year, the car was sold again, for 5,000 Euro, to a mother so that she could transport her two children. A promise was made that she’d return the car when she no longer had use for it.
  • Four years and another 100,000kms later -in 1997 – the car returned to Hans’ neighborhood, but not to his garage. It was bought by a young neighbor as his first car.
  • In 2002 the young neighbor completed his university education and wanted to upgrade to a Saab Turbo. The car finally passed back in to Hans’ ownership.
  • Since then, the engine has been overhauled and uprated to 1850cc, with Bosch K-Jetronic, a bigger cooling system and fuel tank. The body and paint have remained untouched since 1991 and are still in absolutely fantastic condition, as you can see in the photo.

If you read this story about their family Saabs, you’ll see that this car now has a healthy 800,000kms+ on the odometer.

Hans’ family – including his octogenarian parents – has a full fleet of high-milers and they’re all exceptionally well cared for. Both his son and daughter have restored their own cars over the years. In fact, his young granddaughter is now the fourth generation of the family to ride in the same car – her mother’s Saab 900.

I was so taken with his car that I offered to continue the story by purchasing Hans’ Saab 96, but he declined. Seems like it’s staying in the family for good, now.

A great story. One of very many out there in Saab-land.

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  1. Cool story.

    So you still need fresh air, huh? Can’t get rid of that habit either… 😉

  2. Great story! Hans should give his shirt a new paintwork. It does not match the phantastic 96.