Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Puzzler - Saab - BOOOOOOOOGUS!

This is bogus, isn’t it?


If it’s the one about the SAAB 2-stroke beating the muscle car during a race while the SAAB was in reverse I can only say this.
The guy who claims this is stuffed with more crap than a Thanksgiving turkey and one wonders why CT even wastes one minute of time on this garbage.

As an ex-SAAB tech, I’ve had the dubious honor of repairing and driving a number of those 2-stroke SAAB Model 96s and one of these cars is not going to outrun a muscle car even if it was going forward, much less in reverse.

The puzzler had the driver run the engine in the opposite direction. In other words, if the engine normally turned clockwise, he started the engine so that it ran counter-clockwise. This gave him 1 speed forward and 4 reverse speeds.

As a former SAAB technician, is this possible? I do remember a 2 cycle outboard motor–I believe it was a Neptune from the 1930’s or 1940’s that would run in either direction. One could start the engine in one direction and then back away from the pier, then stop the engine, pull the rope so that it turned the engine in the other direction and go forward. Is this possible to do with a SAAB 2 cycle engine? If it is, then the SAAB didn’t need a reverse gear in the transmission. One could start the engine rotating in one direction to go forward and then the other direction for reverse. In fact, all that would be needed would be a torque converter between the engine and the drive shaft. This would also be great for 2 cycle lawnmowers. The blade would be sharpened on both sides and when one side became dull, the engine could be started to run the other direction.

As I said earlier, I have seen an outboard motor that could be started to run in either direction. Is it even possible with the SAAB 2 cycle engine?

If the cars are stock, it is unbelievable.

OTOH, the Saab might be modified. Any car can have an engine, drive train, and driver’s seat installed backwards. Think of it as lifting the body and installing it facing backwards. As long as you’re at it, why not install a race engine and lightweight the car? I’m sure a Saab 96 could beat a lot of stock muscle cars that way.

It’s quite feasible for a 2 stroke to run backwards and especially on marine engines as you mention.
However, I don’t buy that scenario as presented for this reason.

One is that the 2 cycles were small displacement (way less than a liter) and while this is ancient history, it seems to me that 0 to 60 MPH times were in the 15-16 second range with a top speed of about 90 MPH. And that’s on the most powerful versions.
I’ve driven several of the later models with the bigger displacement/triple carbs and really whaled on them just to see what they would do. Zippy yes. Gut pulling power no.
(Personally, I would not want to go 90 MPH forward in one of them. There’s a reason why SAAB’s factory race driver, who drove 96s, was nicknamed “On The Roof” Carlsson.)

They’re neat cars IMHO and whenever I drove one it definitely got some looks from other drivers when they heard the wild Ring-a-Ding sound hitting 6k RPMs and saw a cloud of smoke. A chainsaw run amok is the best analogy I can think of.

One of the purpose built HO versions.

As the past owner of two three cylinder two stroke Saabs a 1967 95 wagon and one of the last 96s to be imported 1968-815 ccs to be under the smog limit- and lots of two stroke motorcycles I’m sure some motorcycles can run backwards but I’m not sure about the cars. I watched a trials rider approach a wall compress the suspension pull in the clutch and as the bike started rolling backward let out the clutch and then shift gears as he rode backwards. He said he had to adjust the timing to TDC to allow it to run both ways.

In stock form the 2 strokes had a 0 to 60 MPH time of 16 seconds; equivalent to watching grass grow.
In all out race form, and in the far more aerodynamic Sonnett body, 0 to 60 MPH was roughly seconds; much quicker, but still comparatively slow.

Since the latter involved the factory race team in an all out race car that would hardly be applicable to the normal person on the street.