The third-oldest surviving Saab, the ninth of 20 prototypes built before the company put its original 92 model into production in 1950, is going on the block on September 10 in Chantilly, France. The Bonhams auction house is offering the car with no reserve, estimating that it will go for between $18,000 and $30,000. What happens when bidders raise their paddles is unpredictable, but that bit of guesswork looks to us like small money for a genuine piece of automotive history.
Granted, the Saab 92 was a modest machine, powered by a 764 cc two-stroke twin driving the front wheels through a three-speed manual transmission, but the full history of this one is known and documented, and it’s in running condition. In photos, it looks like a candidate that any high-profile concours would welcome for display in its preservation class.
According to , Saab 92009 is one of only three known survivors from the original run of 20 prototypes. Number 92001 resides in the Saab museum in Trollhättan, Sweden, and 92004 is in private hands. Like all 20 prototypes, when the car was built in 1949 it was painted green, and traces of the color can be seen in places such as the underside of the hood. The car was repainted gray, probably just before it was sold to one of the company’s aerospace engineers, Olaf Öhlander, in November 1953. The prototypes didn’t have opening trunks, so cargo was accessed only through the interior. This car was retrofitted to add the trunklid that was introduced for the 1953 models, another change pegged to the time of sale, the catalog says.
The car passed through four Swedish owners before landing in 1960 in the south of Sweden with a farmer who used it only occasionally. Then, in 1980, it was stored in a barn. It emerged in 1997 and was sold to the current owners, who have maintained it without attempting restoration. It got new tires, the front fenders were “renovated,” and basic maintenance was seen to, while the family drove it only short distances annually. Bonhams notes one other change: The car originally had an outside mirror only on the right side, but that has been replaced by a “homemade” unit on the left, a change presumably precipitated when Sweden switched from driving on the left side of the road to the right in 1967. In any case, the car was built with its steering wheel on the left.
The Saab 92 was replaced by the better-known 93 for 1956, still with a two-stroke engine but this time with three cylinders. The 93 was, in turn, replaced by the 96 in 1960. The Saab 92 moniker was revived for a short while on the Subaru-based 9-2x of 2004–2005, when General Motors had ownership interests in both firms. After GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, the Saab name passed to Swedish supercar builder Spyker, which announced an upcoming small-car project with a prototype it dubbed the 92 in 2011, using drivetrains from BMW’s Mini division, but it came to naught.