The Draken Is Sold: 1978 Saab 99 EMS

(Update Draken is sold.  Thanks for the interest!) It has been a great year with the Draken, I really can’t say enough nice things about this car.  It has never left me stranded…well…there was a time that the key snapped off in the door, but that was my fault and not the electromechanical failures you’d expect from a 70’s Saab — instead it was a fun weekend/daily driver that got thumbs up and smiles everywhere I went.  Today, it is my pleasure to offer this 1978 Saab 99 EMS for sale here on the Daily Turismo for $2,900, SOLD SOLD SOLD!!! located in Redondo Beach, CA. Contact me at if you have any interest.

You can read the story of the Draken at this link here (I had originally intended on writing more Draken stories, but life got ahead of me), but the TL;DR version is that I purchased this car a little over a year ago, drove it around, fixed a few things, and am now moving on to something different and wagony (more on that later).  Before we get too far into the details, you can checkout a bunch of hi-res photos of the spleen colored (technically it is the original Cardinal Red) Draken here on flickr.

Draken is a 1978 SAAB 99 EMS — that last bit means Electronic Manual Special, which
combines electronic fuel injection with manual transmission &
steering to make something special.  This is the car that Stig Blomqvist
first took to victory at the 1977 International Swedish Rally before 4-wheel-drive revolutionized WRC
racing.  It might be the 99 Turbo that gets all the glory today, but the simple fuel injected EMS was the first to get Stig sprayed with moose milk on a WRC podium in ’77.

What makes the Draken special, aside from the vintage customized California blue plate (that goes with the car BTW) is the stock Saab B-series 2.0 liter inline-4 mounted backwards (clutch is up front, accessories are near passenger firewall) in the front.  The engine is fed via a Bosch Jetronic fuel injection system and produces 110 horsepower and 119 ft-lbs of torque.  Mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox and with a curb weight of 2500 lbs, the Draken won’t be king of the drag strip, but it has no problem keeping up with traffic and has a factory quoted top speed of 108 mph.  The engine is all stock except for a high flow muffler that is totally quiet at idle, but snorty when pushed.  Mechanically, the engine is strong, it starts right up when hot or cold and pulls nicely.  It passed smog 1 year ago and should pass smog without any problems today.

According to Archibald Vicar M. Dip writing for UK’s Mass Motorist magazine in 1968, “That the 99 is comfortable, well-made, satisfying to drive and
well-equipped ought to mean that other makers should take heed. The
Bavarians at BMW and Alfa Romeo of Milan also offer small and agile
saloons. I would contend here that Saab has the advantage of them, and
should Saab choose to fit an even more powerful motor, the 99 could be a
class leader in a short space of time.” 
You tell them Archibald, you tell ’em good!!  The Draken suspension is in decent order, and is free from strange clunks/rattles, etc — same with the brakes.

The inside is in decent driver condition, it is far from perfect, a few seams splitting on the seats, dash has some rips in its surface, and some of the little plasticy bits have succumbed to the inevitability of decomposition.   The two spider windshield cracks/chips are located in a spot that you don’t notice while driving, but Safelite gave me a quote for something like $250 for a new windshield a few months back, I just never followed through.

Most of the interior is stock/original with the exception of the steering wheel, which is a rare (from what I’ve been told) Saab sport wheel (from the Saab Sport and Rally Catalog) recovered with a basic lace-on leather cover.  It won’t win best interior at the next Långholmsbadet Beach Concours d’Excellence and Ice Plunge, but the Lepai aftermarket stereo has FM/USB/SD-car/Aux input capabilities and pumps out something in excess of 20 watts of power into an assortment of speakers.  The air conditioning great when I first bought the car, but stopped blowing cold a few months later, your guess is as good as mine.

Draken is has had three owners since new, before my term at the helm it was owned by master Saab mechanic Walter Wong from Right Solution in
Culver City, CA.  Walter owned Draken starting in 1999, when he purchased it from the original owner and his long time customer John Allen in
Marina Del Rey — the Draken plates came with the car when Walter
acquired it and then stayed with it. Walter upgraded it as he used it
for a daily driver, kid hauler, parts hauler and loaner car for his
shop (hence the vestigial remains of a trailer hitch — it comes with the car).  In June of 2014, I picked up the Draken for $3500 from Walter (which is right about where Hagerty puts a condition 4 car), so that is where the asking price comes from — (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we (the editors/writers at DT) are not here to make a quick buck from our readers.)

As of now, the 99 has racked up 169k miles on the odometer
but wears its original coat of Cardinal red colored paint (no quick respray here, just pure survivor patina!!) with the exception of the front driver’s quarter which was repainted at the dealer before the original owner took possession of the car due to some sort of lot mishap.  If you were looking for a 99 EMS to restore, this would be a great candidate because you won’t find an ounce of bondo or sketchy repairs on it.  Draken has also benefited from a close relationship
with a master Saab mechanic who has swapped all manner of Saab 900 parts
into it for easy servicing.  Upper and lower control arms, brake
rotors, hubs, pads, master cylinder, axles, radiator core, and fan are
all from the prolific Saab 900 and can be easily found at the local
AutoKragOreillyBoys, or online.

Sharp eye’d readers might notice the mudflaps don’t match in all the photos, that is because I added the twin airplane style flaps after I had taken the original series of pics, and that is what is on the car today. Also with the car comes a few buckets of old parts, trim pieces, interior bits, new door seals,– an actual smörgåsbord of Saab 99 bits.  The Saab Inca alloy wheels have a few spots of curb rash but are otherwise straight and functional.  The tires are a mix of various brands and ages, but hold air and the car tracks straight. 

The Draken is not without its share of war wounds in the form of oxidized metal, the sunroof shows some surface rust, and you’ll find a few spots of rust on the doors, and rear hatch (see pics) –but the bottom (and fenders/frame etc) is 100% free and clear from any rust thanks to a life in sunny Southern California.

See full set of photos here.  If you want to buy the Draken, send me an e-mail and I will get back to you.

More background material:

Read this Hemmings article on the 99.

Saab 99 model year changes from Saabmuseum.

A collection of vintage Saab 99 brochures from

A feel good video where a kid buys his mom a nice Saab 99 and she flips out.