A one-off Saab prototype is headed to auction shortly. Called the Saab EX, the unique car is scheduled to cross the block at a Bonhams auction on October 8.
Built to celebrate Saab's 50th anniversary in 1997, the EX was constructed not in Sweden, but in Oslo, Norway, by Per Ekstrøm. However, it was built in collaboration with both the Saab factory and Norwegian authorities, ensuring that it is fully road legal and drives like Saab production cars of the period, according to the auction listing.
Sharing a wheelbase with the contemporary Saab 900, the EX has exaggerated coupe styling with a low roof and widened fenders. The styling was developed with sketches and clay models—just like a concept car designed by an automaker.
The car started out as a stock Saab 900 body shell. The roof was then lowered 2.7 inches and the tailgate incorporates rear-window glass from a 900 convertible. The wide-body look was achieved with wheel arches from a Saab CS 9000. All of this work consumed an estimates 3,000 to 4,000 hours.
1997 Saab EX Prototype
Smaller design touches include a relocated fuel cap and a rearview camera. A novelty in 1997, the camera is mounted in the tailgate lock cylinder and is connected to an Alpine stereo system's head unit.
Designed to be fully drivable, the EX is powered by a 2.3-liter turbo-4 producing 220 hp. The engine has 95,691 miles on it, but the car itself has much less, according to the auction listing. For the last five years, it's been displayed at Norwegian Saab specialist Gjestrum Larsen AS.
1997 Saab EX Prototype
Currently located in Belgium, the EX received a European Union technical inspection earlier this year. That means it's still road legal in most European countries, Bonhams notes. The prototype is also registered with the VIN from a 1987 Saab 9000CC, giving it "old-timer" status in Europe. Whether age is determined by the VIN or the year of construction, the EX also exceeds the 25-year rule that lifts many barriers to importation of cars not originally sold in the U.S.
The Saab EX prototype will be sold without reserve, with an estimated hammer price of 60,000 to 90,000 euros (approximately $63,000 to $95,000 at current exchange rates). That doesn't sound too bad for an unusual piece of history from a defunct automaker that—at least in some places—you can actually drive.