If you’ve always wanted a Saab but never pulled the trigger on one because they’re just not, you know, weird enough, then boy do I have good news for you. Up for auction, right now, at this very moment, is one of the strangest, sleekest-looking Saabs ever to reside on earth. The sleek part is important, because as glorious as Saabs have always been, sleek is not necessarily an adjective commonly used to describe them. Well, except maybe the Sonett, but even those were peculiar and funky enough that I’m not sure “sleek” really fits. They’ve looked wonderful and strange and incredibly aerodynamic, from their aviation roots, but I’m not sure if “sleek” as an adjective would ever be applied. And yet once, in 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Saab, a Norwegian auto body shop owner named Per Ekstrøm had a vision to create a tribute to Saabs, one that somehow ended up looking like the sportscar Saab should have made, but never did. This is the Saab EX.
Ekstrøm was based in Oslo and by all accounts was a car body expert, something that is borne out by the quality of the cars he ended up building. There were actually two re-imagined Saabs, the CX and EX, both of which weren’t modifications of existing Saabs, at least not exactly, but were more like originally-designed cars that used all Saab parts. The CX was a coupé, shorter than the Saab 99 and with a chopped green house and a more dramatic wheel-to-body ratio, with parts from the 900 Turbo and the 9000, built on a very heavily chopped-up Saab 99.
That’s not the car for sale right now, though. Somehow, after pouring about 2,500 hours into the CX, Ekstrøm decided that just wasn’t enough and went all-out on a new Saab, another design pulled from his Saab fever-dreams and forced into reality: the Saab EX.
This one was based on a Saab 9000, and is an even more dramatic re-imagining of the Saab design language and vocabulary. It’s lower and sleeker, with a chopped greenhouse and a roofline that feels almost like a Porsche 911. The wheelarches are dramatically flared, and the car has a low, athletic, feline stance. It feels like a pure sports car, just one that’s made with Saab parts, like Saab 900 taillights and a narrow rear window from a Saab 900 convertible and a load of interior and other parts from the Saab lineup. The drivetrain uses the Saab 2.3 turbo engine making about 220 hp. It’s quick, too, so it’s not all show.
Remarkably, SAAB Trollhattan, Saab’s parent company, and the Norwegian road authorities were all somehow involved and gave this car some amount of official blessings, which is certainly odd for a one-off car like this. Mechanically, it’s all Saab 900 stuff, as is the VIN, so it should be able to be registered and driven pretty much anywhere you’d drive a Saab 900 anyway.
Bohams thinks it’ll pull between $64,301 and $96,452 at auction, and seeing as how this is the only one of its kind, that guess is about as good as anyone’s really. I think it’d likely be worth that money: it looks incredible, it’s dizzyingly rare, it has some sort of “official” factory approval, and the quality seems great, making this a very rare drivable, practical one-off car.
The car comes with all kinds of paperwork and I think it also comes with this small clay styling model, too:
I’m not positive, though, so don’t rope me into anything if you win the auction and they don’t throw in the model.
This is a really unusual and unexpected car to see at an auction; I’m curious to see how it does, and I hope whoever gets it plans to drive it around and really enjoy it, because, damn, look at it.