Saab Monte Carlo 850

Last Sunday the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation in Brookline, MA held its annual Swedish Car Day.  I was dealing with my own Swedish car issue that day and as such I was unable to make it to Larz Anderson’s.  However my friend, Gary Hamilton, was able to attend and Gary sent me some of his photographs.

Swedish Car Day Ad

The car that caught my eye in Gary’s photos was a Saab Monte Carlo 850.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (2)

The Two Chrome Strips Along The Rocker Panels Distinguish The Monte Carlo 850 From The Standard Saab 96

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 was a three-year model, 1964, 1965, 1966 and may have trickled into 1967, that had a special two-stroke, three-cylinder, three carburetor 841 cc engine that produced 60 horsepower.

Saab Stamp

All Of Sweden Celebrated Saab’s Monte Carlo Victory In 1963

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 was a rather expensive Saab.  For example, in 1964 a standard Saab 96 with the standard 750cc engine cost $1,895 while the Monte Carlo 850 cost $2,790.  That is almost 50% more!

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (3)

The Red Color Of The Monte Carlo 850 Is The Classic Saab Color

While the outside lines of the early Saabs are not appreciated by everyone, the interior design would surely be considered excellent by everyone.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (5)

This Car Has Been Restored Inside and Out

The origin of the Saab Monte Carlo 850 goes back to the Saab GT750 that was introduced in 1958.  This was considered a performance car in the Saab line-up.

Saab 750GT Ad

Saab GT750 Advertisement

The GT750 car was introduced primarily for the American market in 1958.  I believe that this model was a result of Saab’s success in the Great American Mountain Rally.  The Saab GT750 had increased horsepower from the standard 93B’s 38 horsepower to 50 horsepower and there was a modified version of the GT750 that produced 57 horsepower.

An interesting feature of the Saab GT750 was that it included a Halda Speedpilot as standard equipment.  This left no doubt that Saab was focusing on rallying for the GT750.  By the early to mid 1960s when the Monte Carlo 850 had evolved from the GT750, the Halda Speedpilot was no longer standard equipment, but it could be ordered as an option.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (4)

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 Dash Is Among The Best There Is

If you look carefully at the glove box door on the Saab Monte Carlo 850 dash you can see what appears to be a “knock out” plate where the optional Halda Speedpilot could be mounted.

Saab Monte Carlo 850 (1)

Special Badging On The Fenders

The Saab Monte Carlo 850 was an interesting car in the Saab line up.  Given the price premium for the Monte Carlo 850 at $2,750 in 1966 compared to a 1275cc Austin Mini Cooper “S” at $2,349, I would think that it was a car that appealed to a narrow market.

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8 Responses to Saab Monte Carlo 850

  1. Jim says:

    Nice article, thanks.
    I have a ’65 Monte & would love to purchase a reasonably priced Halda Speedpilot for my glovebox…

    • Hi Jim,
      Congrats on having the Saab Monte Carlo 850. Adding a Halda Speedpilot would be a nice touch. In the last couple of weeks I have acquired a 1979 Saab 99 with a 900S 16-Valve engine in it. I have two Halda Speedpilots (one in miles and the other in kilometers) for use in navigating in car rallies. I am going to install one in my Saab 99, as I think that it will look right at home. That said, the Saab Monte Carlo 850 dash looks far better than the Saab 99’s dash, Thanks for looking at my website!
      Steve McKelvie

  2. Mike Mazoway says:

    The cut out in the glove box in the photos was for a radio. The Speedpilot used a different glove box door. If you want a rare SAAB part, the Speedpilot glove box door is as rare as hen’s teeth.

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for clarifying that. As you could probably tell from my post, I was a little unsure of what the “knock out” was for. The width:height dimension ratio of the “knock out” did look somewhat odd for a Speedpilot, but I mistakenly dismissed that as a camera angle effect and that led to my speculation that it appeared to be the “knock out” for a Speedpilot. Do you know if it was possible to get a car with both a radio and a Speedpilot? It certainly would make for a busy dash.
      Your comment about the availability of the Speedpilot glove box door would make it difficult to correctly retrofit a Speedpilot in a Saab Monte Carlo 850.

      Thanks again!
      Steve McKelvie

      • Mike Mazoway says:

        I do not recall seeing a Speedpilot and a radio in the same dash. I will ask around to see if someone knows about how it was done.

  3. Patrick Yoas says:

    I believe I have an original Speedpilot with cables, etc., to the Saab that I removed from a Saab in a wrecking yard back in the ’70’s. It has a chrome bezel and was installed in the cars dashboard. I was going to install it in my ’67 Austin Healey 3000 but I think it would be best installed in a Saab for authenticity. I welcome information about it and might consider parting with it or trading for another model Speedpilot.

  4. Peter Downs says:

    Steve any idea who owns (owned ) that car? Love it, would love to buy it if they were interested in selling

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