The Saab 96 was introduced in 1960 and was produced until January 1980, a run of 20 years. Like the 93 it replaced, the 96 was a development from the old Saab 92 chassis and, on account of its improvements and modernisation, it opened new markets for the company. It was the car for which the marque Saab became internationally known, not least because of its safety innovations and its motor sport successes.
The bodywork differed little from that of the Saab 93, but the rear had undergone improvements in 1960, providing more boot space, a larger boot opening, and a much larger rear window with better visibility. The original 'bull-nose' front section of the 96 was lengthened for 1965 models, in preparation for a new engine, and the radiator was placed ahead of the engine, rather than above and behind, a leftover from the thermosiphon cooling days. Both front and rear windows were again enlarged slightly for 1968 models.
In 1967 the 96V4 appeared, with the Ford Taunus V4 engine, a four-stroke 1498 cc V4 engine, originally developed for the 1962 Ford Taunus 12M. Saab's project to source a four-stroke engine was dubbed 'Operation Kajsa'. Four-stroke engines had been tested earlier. Between 1962 and 1964 Kjell Knutsson and Ingvar Andersson under Rolf Mellde tested three different engines, Lloyd Arabella 897 cc and 45 hp, a Morris Mini 848 cc, 33 hp engine and a Lancia Appia engine of 1089 cc and 48 hp. However Rolf Melldes view that Saab needed to switch to a four-stroke engine was stopped higher up by CEO Tryggve Holm. Mellde then went behind the back of Holm and made contact with Marc Wallenberg, son of Marcus Wallenberg, Saab's major stockholder. The coup succeeded and testing could begin. The engines tested was Volvo B18, Ford V4, Triumph 1300, Lancia V4, Opel, Volkswagen and Hillman Imp. The B18 was the most reliable, but the Ford V4 was not far behind and significantly easier to fit into the engine bay of the 96.
Source: Wikipedia, 2012