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Woods Car Review: 1959 Saab 93 - Goin' Old School

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On: Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 10:26AM | By: Clay Ritchings

Woods Car Review: 1959 Saab 93 - Goin' Old School

Growing up in southern New Jersey we had a lot of room to play as kids with over 15 acres of land backed up by hundreds of acres of fire trails and dirt roads to keep us busy all day long. I know that most people’s perceptions about NJ result from too many episodes of Sopranos, but I’m talking about the southern part of NJ that was mostly farmland, swamps and endless acres of Pine Barrens. Since this was way before video games and our TV antenna only picked up a few channels, we provided our own entertainment at the expense of a few cars.

We had a decent stable of cars and bikes available to ride through the trails, but one vehicle stands out as the best. Looking like a pregnant roller skate, painted in a tomato-like rusty color, stood the 1959 Saab 93. The Saab 93 was no powerhouse by any means, but it did boast a 4-speed on the column (rare for the time) and 3-cyl 2-stroke engine. The motor was so small and light you could lift the motor out by hand. There was no high tech oil injection back then, all you had to do was put a quart of Wolf's Head oil in the tank and top it off.

Few modifications were needed to make this Swedish meatball off-road ready. Since it was front wheel drive (another rarity then), one of the first things we did was remove the front fenders to allow for the larger mismatched snow tires that would allow better traction, wider stance and ground clearance.

It was rare to get her stuck, but when we did, it was as much fun seeing whose driving skills could release the Saab from the hold that the Pine Barrens had put on her. We took that car in places that many 4-wheelers wouldn’t or couldn’t go. That little car would go anywhere, anytime, and ask for more.

The fun did not stop when the warm weather gave way to the icy grip of winter, because running the Saab in the snow and ice was a blast. Often we would rig an old car hood as a sled that would be tethered to the woods car and towed behind (kids, do not do this at home!) to see who could last the longest, a kind of Iron Man meets X-Games. That was pretty dangerous, since many times the car hood/sled would transform into a hunk of twisted metal when it got wrapped around a tree with or without its rider. When this happened our fun would abruptly end until we could rig another sled.

Do a search on Google and you can find countless enthusiast sites dedicated to the old Saabs. I am sure that if any of the enthusiasts read this they would be pretty ticked off that we converted there coveted 93 into an off-road toy that received very little TLC and we quite often abused. Today, I feel guilty about the desecration of a pretty cool car that I would love to own now. If you have any doubts that this car was cool, just know that Jay Leno owns one, so it has to be cool.

Note: way cooler than a Xr4ti...

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