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Premium X’s 1980 Saab 96 V4


If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m a huge Saab fan.

A few months back I wrote about the unique 2002 9-5 SportCombio Aero die-cast from Ixo, and now I’ve got a rad 1980 96 V4 (from Ixo’s Premium X lineup) to geek out over.

Obscure, vintage European cars have this allure about them and the ease in obtaining many of them in die-cast form is wonderful.

All right, let’s talk about this green, 1/43-scale Swedish slug I’ve got in the palm of my hand.

The History

The 96 was an important car for Saab. Not only was it the car maker’s longest-produced model, rolling off assembly lines in both Sweden and Finland from 1960 to 1980, the 96 was the brand’s first mass-exported car, spreading the Saab name across the world.

Successor to the 93F, Saab’s first automobile, the 96 had a long sloping hatchback look with two-doors seats for five.

The front-wheel-drive 96 was initially sold with a 2-stroke, 3-cylinder that made 38 horsepower. On paper those numbers might seem unimpressive but the 96 screamed like a raspy, uproarious motorcycle when really revved up. In a diverse world of engine noises, nothing quite makes you smile like hearing a 2-stroke scream by you at full-throttle. Head to YouTube, search for “Saab 96 2 stroke,” and let your ears rejoice. You’re welcome.

In 1967, a Ford-sourced 4-stroke V4 (yes, you read that correctly) took power up to 65 horsepower and was paired with a 4-speed gearbox.

The 96V4 engine’s size grew to 1700cc for the 1975 model year and after a twin-choke carburetor was fitted in ’77, final power output was at 68 hp.

Saab’s 96 was happiest off-road, destroying rally courses across the globe.

Driver Erik Carlsson, brought home first place bragging rights for Saab at numerous events including two wins at the 1962 and 1963 Rally Monte Carlo.


The Model

The model we have here is the 1980 96 V4, the last production year for this car.

Its finish is flawless, wearing a coat of Saab’s “Jade Green” that shines, shimmers, and sparkles depending on the lighting.

Realistic looking rectangular headlights and amber side markers up front border a detailed grille bearing the “Saab” script in its center.

Black bumpers extend from both ends of the car with a chrome accent strip canvassing it. The hood has a raised “V” shape and there are black surrounds for all the windows.

Side profiles of Saab’s 96 V4 show chrome lower moldings stamped above black stripes on the rocker panels, and there are small chrome “Saab” scripts behind each front wheel.

I particularly like the tiny blue-backed “Saab” badge on each C-pillar and the adorable black spoiler on the trunk lid, where there’s a “V4” badge.

Riding the ridge of rally pedigree, this 96 V4 has “Saab” embossed rear mud flaps, but one on my particular model appears a tad crooked, so may calls for a minor repair.

Peek inside the tan and brown cabin and there are many detailed essentials, like the door and window controls and cranks, steering wheel with its column-mounted manual transmission and a parking brake on the floor.

Decals provide the detail on the 96 V4’s center console and dashboard and appear correct for the 1980 model year. Plus the car’s seats have a two-tone appearance to give them added detail. 

Vital Stats:



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