22 May 2023
Whitebox 1970 Saab 96 V4 - black
REF NO: WHI 124051
Saab's 96 was introduced in 1960 as a replacement for its then four-year-old 93. With styling clearly reminiscent of Sixten Sason's beautifully-penned lines on its predecessor, the 96, again styled by Sason, at first glance appeared to be an evolution, but it was so much more than that.
The 96 features aerodynamic two-door bodywork and four passenger seats. Initially fitted with a two-stroke, three-cylinder engine, a more powerful four-stroke V4 came along later.
Compared with its predecessor, the 96 featured greater and more easily accessible storage space, and a larger rear window. The front end was lengthened for 1965 models onwards, in preparation for the new engine, and the radiator was placed ahead of the engine. Both front and rear windows were enlarged slightly for the 1968 models onwards. Production continued until early 1980.
The 96 achieved quite a bit of success in international rallying, particularly in the hands of Erik Carlsson, and then later with the V4 version, when Stig Blomqvist or Per Eklund were behind the wheel.
This wonderful replica from Whitebox, at 1/24, which is a really fast-growing scale in terms of both popularity and models becoming available, is a real treat, and a proper bargain at this price point. The gorgeous, curvaceous lines of the 96 have been perfectly captured here and the trim and badging is really excellent.
Modelled at exactly the halfway point of its production life, it captures the essence of the design beautifully, with a certain level of charm very evident, before later tweaks in terms of safety and, to a certain extent, giving into whims and trends, took away some of the 96's identity.
Some of Whitebox's 1/24 releases come with opening doors, but neither of this month's samples (see page 15 for the Tatra 613) do, although this doesn't detract from the ability to appreciate the interior, as both this Saab and the Tatra have ample glazing areas.
The subtlety of 1960s/'70s car design, especially in terms of the trim, is spot on. From an era where such embellishments were to accentuate, not shout out, Whitebox's work here is highly commendable too, with just the right amount of 'bling' (or thankfully lack of, as the case is here).
The wheels and tyres are most excellent as well. Pressed steel with hubcaps is such an era-specific thing, but it just works so well and they look just right on this model, with superb rubber-treaded tyres.
And one of the particular joys of the simple 96 styling (and that of the 95 estate version - this one next please Whitebox, if you don't mind!) is the oh-so-evocative grille and headlights arrangement. Again, sublimely reproduced are the bumpers, front and rear, and they finish off the overall appearance of this most delightful of diecasts perfectly.