Don't ever let anyone convince you that buying a
two stroke is a bad idea. Once properly
restored, a two stroke is reliable and a
pleasure to own. Lets face it, Saab sold
tens of thousands of two strokes to be used as
daily drivers for almost two decades. If
they all fell apart, Saab would not be in
business today. Two Stroke horror stories
invariably involve poorly maintained vehicles
that often sit idle for months at a time.
When buying a two stroke, you must make a
commitment to rebuild the car structurally and
mechanically to insure years of safe enjoyment.
Decision... Which one?
To me, the older the Saab the "cooler"
it gets. Mechanically, the cars improved a
little each year, but definitely at the expense
The "Longnose" cars (1965- 1968) were
the last of the two strokes and consequently the
most refined. Given a choice, a Monte
Carlo 850 would be the way to go since they have
extra body trim, a sportier engine and a more
comfortable interior than a standard car.
The "Bullnose" cars (1964 and earlier)
are much quirkier than the longnose cars.
The front end treatment is strikingly
"different" and the "overhead
fanshaft" will keep your friends talking
for years. The last year for the Bullnose
was 1964. The 64's had round gauges on the
dash, arguably not as cool as the "ribbon
speedometer" found on the 63 and earlier
cars. On the plus side, the 64 was the
first year for the dual circuit diagonal braking
system. The 1960 through 1963 95's and
96's were basically the same. Notable
exceptions being the GT 750 and GT 850/Sport.
The GT/Sport cars have extra body trim, a
modified engine and a more plush interior than a
standard car, making them much more desirable.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention those
elusive 1966-67 Sonett II two strokes.
They are in a league all their own. Cool?
You bet! Hard to find a good one? Oh
yes. Hard to find parts? If you need
to ask, you're not ready to own one!
1960 saw the last of the 93's. The 93 is
much more cool than a 95 or 96, just one look at
the cars rear end and you will know why.
The 1960 93F is arguably the least cool of the
93's (with the exception of the 93F GT 750) due
to the conventional front hinged doors.
The 1958 and 1959 93B's are basically the same,
the "suicide doors" make them a
personal favorite. GT 750 93B's are just
about as cool and rare as you can get.
They have an incredible interior, modified
engine and lots of neat body trim. The
1957 and earlier 93's have a "split"
front windshield, a huge
"improvement" over the boring one
piece windshield found on later cars.
Then you have the 92's. It just doesn't
get any better than this. Two cylinders,
28 horse power, no water pump, suicide doors,
split front windshield and on the early ones‹
no trunk lid! Fantastic!
to ask before looking at the car
ownership - Clean title or transferable
Is the car complete and fully assembled ?
If not, what's missing?
Can the car be test driven? If not, why?
Has the car been in storage? How long?
How bad is the rust?
Has any recent mechanical work been done?
How many miles are on the engine and
Condition of the interior and body?
Any spare parts included?
Has the car been altered from stock? If
to look for once you get there
Be an educated consumer. Don't show up to
look at a 1966 96 Monte Carlo 850 without
knowing what one looks like! I suggest
buying one of the many books that have been
written on Saab to become familiar with the car
that is right for you. Once you have your
choice narrowed down, buy an old sales brochure
for the car. Old Saab brochures can be
purchased from Walter Miller's Literature Shop
in Syracuse, NY. Telephone # (315) 432-
8282, Fax # (315) 432- 8256. A sales
brochure will give you important specifications
that can be checked for while looking at the
At the very
minimum, you should know the following before
you look at the car:
The type of
engine - 750cc or 850Cc, oil injected or pre
The type of clutch and transmission - cable or
hydraulic, 3 speed or 4?
The type of carburetor - single or triple?
The type of brakes and hubs - drums or disks,
four bolt or five?
The type of interior - know the color choices
and overall appearance for that year.
The correct body colors and exterior trim for
that year and model.
If the car can not be test driven, Buyer Beware!
Purchasing a car that can not be driven, opens
the door to all kinds of problems. I'm not
saying that you should never buy a car that can
not be test driven. If you do, be prepared
for the worst and make sure that the price
reflects the fact that the car is not road
worthy. Remember... listening to an engine
run in a driveway is not the same as listening
to it while under load going up a hill.
Likewise, roll testing the brakes on someone's
front lawn is not the same as bringing it to a
stop from 65 MPH.
Pull the choke, start her up and get settled
behind the wheel. Make sure that the
emergency brake works because you will have to
use it when parking the car with the freewheel
engaged. Two strokes have very little
power and run rough when cold. Don't judge
the motors performance until after it has fully
warmed up. Listen to the motor, you should
not hear any clicking, knocking or slapping
sounds. The clutch should be light
compared to most modern cars unless it has been
equipped with a heavy duty pressure plate.
Having to let the clutch slip to get the car
rolling is normal. Clutch
"judder" upon take off is common but
should not be considered normal. The
clutch should never slip once on the move. The
car should pull smoothly in all gears without
hesitation. Engine RPM's should be kept
rather high before shifting. Sluggish
performance at low RPM is normal. A
transmission in perfect condition will be almost
silent in all gears at any RPM. A moderate
whine at certain speeds is very common and does
not necessarily mean that a rebuild is in your
near future. A loud obtrusive transmission
whine that makes conversation difficult is NOT
normal and will require immediate attention.
1st gear is not synchronized on three speed
box's so a "kachunk" sound when going
into 1st is acceptable. Although using the
freewheel is not absolutely necessary on oil
injected cars, check it out anyway. Freewheel
IS absolutely necessary on non-oil injected
If the car has four wheel drum brakes, you are
in for a real surprise! Even with the
brakes working perfectly, you can expect to
build up your calf muscles bringing the car to a
stop. The car should not pull to one side
and you should not feel pulsation's through the
pedal. If the brake pedal slowly sinks to
the floor, the car has a hydraulic leak and
should not be test driven. If pumping the
brake gives you a "higher" pedal, the
brakes need adjustment. Cars equipped with
front disc brakes should almost stop like a
modern car. Make sure that all
the gauges work, the most important being the
temperature gauge as two strokes often run hot.
It is normal for the Amperage gauge to go into
the negative range on a generator equipped car
when the car is at idle, especially when the
headlights are on. The car should
feel tight and vibration free at speed.
The steering should be precise and without
"play." The suspension should
respond to bumps like any other car - without
drama. Exhaust fumes should not enter the
passenger compartment while the car is moving.
The overall feel of a properly maintained
stroker is like know other car. If you are
fortunate enough to ever drive one, you are in
for a real treat.