I used to drive past this Saab 96 on a regular basis. The owner lived a few blocks away from me in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Of course, it caught my eye. It never moved; it sat in the same spot day in, day out. And then, one day, I saw it listed in the local classifieds.
I don’t remember the price (less than $1,000, I think) or the finer details; this was over a decade ago. The owner mentioned he bought it as a project that he never started, let alone finished, and he wanted to move on. He’d bought a TJ-generation Jeep Wrangler to go off-roading in Moab, something he couldn’t easily do in the Saab without doing something berserk like dropping it on a Blazer chassis. The 96 started, it more or less idled, and it stopped if you planned well ahead and pumped the brake pedal a few times. It was the body, however, that stopped me from pulling the trigger.
Decades of soldiering through Utah’s salt-infused roads had taken a heavy toll on the 96. It had been hacked up, welded, smattered with bondo, and painted numerous times over the course of its life. None of it looked good, and the spots that hadn’t been repaired (like the bottom of the doors) badly needed to be. It’s unfortunate because it looked like an otherwise straight, accident-free car. It was mostly complete with the exception of some trim pieces, the left headlight, and the right windshield wiper arm.