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 New Project: '68 Baja Saab!
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2018 :  07:30:12 Show Profile Reply with Quote
A couple weeks ago I received a text from somebody I've never met, but who had left a note under the windshield of my car. They knew of a collection of Saabs and parts that was all going to go to the crusher. I could show up and take anything away for free, even whole parts cars.

The catch? The scrap dealer was showing up in less than a week to take everything. So I went to see if I could find some parts for my 1969 95.



I was not prepared for what I saw when I pulled up to the old barn. About 12 Saabs parked in the grass, in various states of decay and disassembly. The oldest from 1962, the newest from about ten years later. Most in very sad shape, wrecked, rusted, partially parted out.

Inside the barn? Shelves and shelves of parts. Bins and boxes of parts. Parts everywhere. Unfortunately for me, most of it was 2-stroke stuff. Unfortunately for owners of 2-stroke Saabs, I have no idea what of those parts is sought after! I'm sure I let a fortune slip through my ignorant hands.

In the whole lot of transmissions, there was only one late-model ribbed case. So I grabbed that. Got four steel wheels (and more hubcaps than I bothered to count, just grabbed a whole stack of them), got three lever shocks, heater blower fan, and various odds and ends. Unfortunately I did not have space to grab larger items I'd have killed to have - lots of glass, and even a complete V4 engine shoved in the corner.



Also in the barn was this 2-stroke 95. Last registered in 1983. Crusty and hail damaged, but mostly complete. I had to have it.



Out in the grass was this 1968 V4. Remarkably rust free, and complete, unlike any of the other cars parked outside. I looked through the paperwork inside the drawers in the barn. Found a title, it was last on the road in 2005, and had been purchased and brought to the farm in 2010. Light front end accident damage, but not too severe.



As the sun was setting, I packed up my finds and went home. I emailed the property owner. Could she save the wagon and the V4 for me? A day went by, no reply. One more day and they'd all be taken away. I sent another email, and thankfully she replied. She would consider keeping the cars only if I absolutely picked them up within the next week. I promised I would.

I came back next weekend. All of the other cars were gone. The barn was completely empty except for a few traces of items here or there. A pull handle, a bit of chrome trim. The stack of doors gone. The transmissions, gone. Steering wheels, seatbelts, wiper motors, all gone. The sad bullnose 96 outside was gone too. A shame really, but beyond the point of economical restoration really.



The '68 V4 was easy enough to move onto the trailer once the tires were pumped up. The 95 though? Took hours to load. Somebody decided to move it out of the barn before I got there. They caused the front tires to roll off the rims, then got one of the rear wheels stuck in a rut outside the barn (where water drained away from the roof). Then apparently decided that would be my problem to deal with. It took a total of about four hours to get the 95 onto the trailer, driven to storage and unloaded. I ache again just thinking about getting the damned thing to budge off the trailer.



The interior is in surprisingly good shape. But I won't be needing it. Because what I want to do is build a car inspired by the Saabs entered in the 1969 Baja 500 race. This will basically require beefing up the suspension, stripping out the interior and side glass, and fitting the biggest tires the wheels and wheel wells can handle.



The 95 is safe for the moment. I don't really have the time or money to fix it and am looking for a new owner to take it in and part it out or fix it up as they see fit. It was just too complete/rust free to be sent to the crusher.




Edited by - Mos6502 on 29 Mar 2018 07:34:56

James Ranaldi
V4 Guru

United Kingdom
1383 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2018 :  09:52:14 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Hi Mos6502,

You did what you could in the time available. I could have spent many happy days in there.

This story makes me weep . . . .

Cheers

1968 V4, LHD
1984 99 GL
1992 C900i Convertible
1993 C900 LPT Convertible
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UK_Sub
Moderator

United Kingdom
2152 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2018 :  10:25:06 Show Profile Reply with Quote
As soon as I read the word "Baja" I thought of this poster, sent to me from John...

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UK_Sub
Moderator

United Kingdom
2152 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2018 :  10:40:33 Show Profile Reply with Quote
As for tyres, looks like you can go pretty big!


Loving the off-centre stripe


How cool is this one!?


The inspiration for the advert above?
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melle
V4 Guru

United Kingdom
2535 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2018 :  13:09:16 Show Profile Visit melle's Homepage Reply with Quote
Oooooooffff! This will be good!

Raising suspension discussed earlier: http://www.saab-v4.co.uk/speedball/topic.asp?topic_id=16462

www.saabv4.com
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 29 Mar 2018 :  19:03:41 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Yes. I'm going to try and keep it more like the '68 and '69 entries, which still looked relatively stock. Not going to do the over-the-roof exhaust because I want to keep the car street legal.

Will reinforce the A-arms, add the second set of shocks, and figure a way to lift the suspension slightly. In the years Saab was winning, the cars weren't raised any, they just used really tall tires. It's impossible to find tires this tall and skinny enough in the U.S. these days. While the stock Saab can take very tall tires, it can't take very wide tires.

I think I'll have 1" spacers made to fit onto the top spring seats, which will bring the ride height up to about what it would have been with the tires they were using, with the benefit that the tires won't be so big and heavy, and the trans won't need to be as stressed.
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Woody
V4 Guru

United Kingdom
2412 Posts

Posted - 31 Mar 2018 :  19:52:52 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Good resources are "From Two-Stroke to Turbo" by Anders Tunberg and Graham Robson's Rally Giants series -Saab 96 & V4. Have around 30 photos of a replica which has Widetrack Radial Baja tyres with size marking of P205/75R15 . M/S mounted on period 4.5J steel wheels. PM an email and I shall send you copies over. Woody
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 01 Apr 2018 :  04:51:22 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Thanks Woody. I also have a copy of Hot VWs from 1970 (??? I think?) which features an interview with Ingvar Lindqvist, where he shares some details about the cars.

I'm honestly shocked that a 205 tire would fit on the steel wheels without rubbing the springs! I'd figure it'd be rubbing even with the Sonnet wheels. I do know of one or two 195R80 tires available in the U.S. that should fit.

PS: Digging through the car I found an amazing artifact: the maintenance log. The car was originally bought by a newspaper in Ekalaka, Montana, a tiny town that in its heyday had just less than 1,000 inhabitants. The car was serviced in Billings, Montana, 258 miles away! The dealer that carried out the service is still in business today. They still have the Saab logo on their sign: https://www.danamotors.com/cars-for-sale-billings-mt

How neat is that?
I'm going to call the newspaper and see if anybody remembers the car.

Edited by - Mos6502 on 01 Apr 2018 05:02:34
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Dirtbiker
V4 Mad

United Kingdom
625 Posts

Posted - 02 Apr 2018 :  19:57:20 Show Profile Visit Dirtbiker's Homepage Reply with Quote
This is high on my list of things I would like to build so will be following with interest!
I think I read that the blue one, number 604 was the family car that had been given to the son who then desert raced it.
Good luck with the build and good save on the two cars.
Cheers
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 05 Apr 2018 :  10:25:30 Show Profile Reply with Quote
I have been advised by some VW guys who I trust to know more about this than I do, that the section width of the tire shouldn't exceed the rim width by more than three inches, which means the stock steelies are out if I want to mount 195 width all-terrains. I'll probably run the Sonnet wheels that I currently have on the 95. I have a set of steel wheels I want to put on the 95 anyway, I just need to get them cleaned up and painted. In any event it's going to be a month or two before I get the paper work on the 96 sorted out, so I can't really do much with it in the meantime anyway. I'll just have to amass the parts I know I'll need in the meantime.

Edit: My ultimate goal, wheel wise, is to have some centerline style wheels custom made for the car. With that idea in mind, does anybody have the geometry for the front end handy? I'd like to maintain the stock scrub radius but with the taller tires, and assume this will mean using a different offset or back spacing to make up for the extra height (ie. the imaginary line drawn through the top ball joint, bottom ball joint, and terminating at the ground won't line up the same with taller tires will it? - I'm assuming the wheel itself has to move slightly outward to compensate for the extra height).

Edited by - Mos6502 on 05 Apr 2018 10:35:20
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2018 :  02:29:03 Show Profile Reply with Quote
I scanned this from the winter 1967 Saab dealer newsletter, as it was published in the U.S. without a copyright notice before 1978, it is in the public domain.



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James Ranaldi
V4 Guru

United Kingdom
1383 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2018 :  10:29:51 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Fantastic article Mos6502. Thanks for posting.

Cheers

1968 V4, LHD
1984 99 GL
1992 C900i Convertible
1993 C900 LPT Convertible
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GeoffC
V4 Fanatic

United Kingdom
385 Posts

Posted - 14 Apr 2018 :  19:00:31 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Yes good stuff, love to see these old articles thanks.
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 22 Apr 2018 :  19:29:04 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Communicated with the previous, previous owner and found she bought it from the son of the original owner. The car had been bought by his parents. His mother stopped driving it in the 1980s, and it was stored in a shed for nearly 20 years when she bought it and put it back on the road - so it is an all original car minus some paint to hide front end damage. A real shame it was left outside to rot in a field the past five or so years.

This also explains why all the ball joints etc. appear original with zerk fittings instead of modern sealed replacements. The car had been maintained meticulously by the original owners.
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 30 Apr 2018 :  23:06:33 Show Profile Reply with Quote
So I've been ordering all the front end parts, bushings, ball joints, axle boots. Still need to order the brake hoses and brake parts it will almost certainly need. But I also started getting the fun stuff too, got some old Lumax spot lights and a VW roof rack to adapt.
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Mos6502
V4 Fan

USA
120 Posts

Posted - 27 May 2018 :  19:48:44 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Decided to mount the fascia for the first time. Installed some new headlamps and bulbs (yellow bulbs will have to come out for inspection, they're not legal for headlights here, but I think it looks great with the color of the car).

I noticed the spring on the driver's side has what appears to be slag from welding on it. I think somebody may have attempted to lower the car in the past by welding a couple turns of the spring together. I'm worried about the effect the heat of this may have had on the temper of the spring, so will be looking for a new set. Also noticed the hole the tie rod passes through had two cuts made in the top of it, as though somebody was going to peel back the metal - perhaps to give more room for the tie rod if the car was lowered? So that is going to have to be welded up when I pull the car into my garage this winter.

Also have been looking for appropriate tires. My first choice of tires, in the 195/80/R15 size disappeared. I ordered them, then got a phone call saying the order was going to be delayed, but not to worry, they still were going to send me the tires. Then got an email saying my payment had been refunded the next day, and my money was returned.

So I ordered another set of tires in the 175/80/R15 size (Nankang FT-7 tires) and the same thing happened! I called the U.S. distributor and they were unhelpful, they have no plans to bring any more of these tires to the U.S. Luckily I know a guy in Japan who can ship them to me, so that's the route I'm going. Of course these tires are easily available all over Europe and Asia, just not in the U.S.


Edited by - Mos6502 on 27 May 2018 19:55:06
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