It seems as though car culture at large has tuned out Saabs and lumped them in with everyday economy cars driven by moms. To many people, Saabs are seen as ugly commuter vehicles.
However, there are a few of us out there who see the beauty and potential in a Saab. Namely, Steffan Sprague and me.
When I spotted this thing at the Bonney Lake Old School Reunion a while back, I literally ran over to it. I have been searching for a modified Saab for what feels like forever; I love the goofy look they have, even stock. Every time a funny mom zips by in one I see potential and, apparently, so does Steffan.
Steffan’s folks both had vintage Sciroccos, so you could say a fondness for weird European cars is sort of in his blood. He loves cars you don’t see every day, and his 1976 Saab 99 GL in G11 green certainly is the source of some double takes.
What I didn’t know previously, is that in decades past Saab was well known for its green cars. The company was originally an aircraft business, but after WWII they needed to change their product line a bit, and cars (land planes?) were the next best thing. Because Saab had previously been focused on military aircraft they had an abundance of green paint left over, which led to many goblin green leprechaun Saabs.
I knew there had to be someone out there who saw what I did in these cars, and the 99 at hand is actually Steffan’s fifth early-generation Saab. What’s funny is that when I finally tracked down Steffan, I was sort of surprised that the person on the other end of the phone was neither a gnome nor a clown, considering the outlandish car we were discussing. Instead, Steffan is a very normal, young skateboarder guy — hence the roof rack — who kindly answered a few of my questions while on a forklift at his fairly normal job.
When I asked him why he chose the Saab lifestyle he said the cars “just have everything going for them,” as if it were obvious. He sold his last 1976 G11 green 99 for this one because its body was in a bit better condition, and it only set him back $800. He put in a period-correct Saab engine and began to Frankenstein together what would be his new daily driver.
Steffan said he gave the car a vintage facelift using parts poached from other old Saabs. We often associate upgrades with new parts, but Steffan explained that new plastic parts are neither particularly pretty nor sturdy, so instead he decided to deck out his car solely with vintage chrome parts from various Saab models prior to the plastic era.
This Saab 99 is a beautiful, slightly modified, period-correct oddball, and I think you’d have to be blind to not be charmed by it.