Project 93C, as it was known within Saab, culminated in the announcement of the new Saab 96 at a Stockholm press conference on 17 February 1960. The 96, featured aerodynamic two-door bodywork, four passenger seating, was well received and proved popular. Capacity was increased to 50,000 units and the popular 96 opened up new markets for Saab. The 96 was not completely new – the front was relatively unchanged from its predecessor, the 93, but the rear was extensively redesigned to incorporate a 117% larger rear screen, a wider backseat, larger baggage compartment, a new fuel tank and larger rear lights. (saabmuseum.com)
The Saab 96 had a longitudinally mounted engine layout. As first designed, it had a 841 cc, 38 hp (28 kW) three-cylinder Saab two-stroke engine. By 1965 this was increased to 40 hp (30 kW). For 1966 models, the standard 96 841 cc engine increased the power to 46 hp (34 kW). An optional 57 hp (43 kW) version of the engine, with triple carburetors and oil injection, had been used in the Monte Carlo and Sport models.
An unusual feature of the Saab drivetrain was a 'freewheel' (overrunning clutch). This allowed the transmission to run faster than the engine, such as when decelerating, or descending a long hill. They were required in the Saab because of the limited lubrication in the two-stroke engine. The Saab 96 and its station wagon sibling, the Saab 95, featured column mounted transmission levers. The gearbox originally had three gears, later, a four-speed option.
The Saab 96 was driven most famously by Erik Carlsson, in many international rallies. His most famous successes were first in the 1960, 1961 and 1962 RAC Rallies and first in the 1962 and 1963 Monte Carlo Rallies. It was these successive, top-level victories that put the Saab 96 'on the map' and established its reputation for reliability and toughness.
In 1967, Saab began marketing the 96V4, with the Ford Taunus four-stroke 1498 cc V4 engine. (wikipedia)
(Photos from classiccarauctions.co.uk, commons.wikimedia.org,
bringatrailer.com, hemmings.com, saabworld.org, garaget.org)