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Saab is a Swedish company with a big reputation. I was attracted to the Saab 900 when looking for a cheap car on ebay as there are alot of them for sale in the UK at bargain prices. Other makes I looked at were Renault and Daewoo but they are not in the same league when it comes to quality of construction or so I thought. One day I noticed a Saab advertised on E Bay as the picture of it stood out. It looked so impressive.
It was a white Saab 900S 3dr with automatic transmission. I was so impressed by the look of the car in the picture and the description of it I pressed the buy it now button and the car was mine for £500.
I picked the car up from a kindly pensioner and my first impressions was that it was quieter than my previous car and more comfortable. Also as it is a popular model it did not stand out from the crowd as my previous car. I drove the car home and all seemed to be running smoothly. It still had five months MOT test on it so any problems had plenty of time to show up.
I have had to top up the engine coolant three times in the two thousand miles I have traveled and top up the washer bottle that and a puncture. I have also replaced the wipers.
Four months later it has just been retested and passed the MOT. Problems being a petrol leak and the fact that the tyres will need replacing soon. I had the oil and oil filter changed at the same time as the petrol leak fixed all for £90.
I looked forward to lots of comfortable and reliable motoring but after six months of owner ship it was all over the water pump gave up taking the cam belt with it cost of repair was £200 instead I called a scrap yard and sold it to them for £100. It had cost me £400 then for six months driving plus insurance at £300 and petrol at 24mpg for 3000 miles about 125 gallons and six months road tax £100. Total cost about £1500 to do 3000 miles or 50p for each mile covered.
Ten years with a Saab. Saab 900 1996 talladega 2.3 petrol bought 1998 with 38,000mls on the clock. Sold with 160,000 on the clock.
Ten years ago this car still looked fab - a little different, a little funky, a little classy but alongside today's car you would never once think this was a special car in any way. Cars now dwarf it in muscularity and wheel size ( even with the talladega's then big 16'' wheels) and funky chic-ness.
None the less, if you can get hold of one with a not too high mileage at a cheap price (and let no-one fool you that they are still worth any chunk of money: they are not) - then you could have a solid and reliable second car or run around.
I'd rather be sitting in an old Saab than something totally bland from that price-range/era. Treated well and regularly serviced the car should go on and on. Petrol engined models can be a little heavy on the liquid money stuff - 29-31mpg (2.3 engine but I belive the smaller engine mpg is slighty lower).
The thing is solid almost tank-like. Robust little touches like the door handles that will last until eternity, the little metal direction controller ball in the hot air blowers, the intelligent simplicity of replacing bulbs, solidity of the doors, robustness of the interior trim, it all adds up to give you the Saab experience.
So with ten years of ownership under my belt I feel I can put together a list of problems that Ive had that may give a feel of what to expect with a Saab to any prospective owners.
Front tyres wear far more than rear. Front wheel drive does this. Once had to replace the original rear tyres at an M.O.T. even they were not worn but had been on so long the sidewalls's were rotting. Cheap tyres are available - shop around.
Engine - just keep it regularly serviced. Had no engine problems at all.
Spark plugs are very expensive but are designed not to need replacing as often as other cars- so eventually works out at similar price.
Once had a warning on the dashboard saying take to dealer - but it was nothing. Some miniscule tube to do with air or something going into fuel injector caused no noticeable difference and took a minute to fix.
Only had one new exhaust. I regretted not going to Saab dealer for this as never quite had the same nice engine tone again.
NOTE: Saab dealers are not always expensive. Some so-called cheap Saab parts and secondhand suppliers are actually more expensive than the main dealer. Always ask the Main dealer first for a price. (I.ve seen bonnet badges dearer on ebay than fromn the dealer. My nearest dealer (Chingford) has done small little repairs for me for £1.50 and even once at no charge.
Replaced one clutch.
Replaced one starter motor.
Replaced two batteries. Battery type was a little difficult to find at a few places - eventually found somewhere who had no trouble in understanding what I want. (Two shops had sent me home with the wrong battery.)
Replaced some bulbs. (easy to do)
There is some sort of pulley for one of the belts in the engine compartment. This pulley is set high on the left as you face the engine. It's about 3-4'' dia. Can't remember exactly what it's called but this disintegrated once - the only time I could have broken down and been left high and dry. But it didn't: I still managed to get home - though i wasn't far away. Apparently, the dealer told me, this is a common failure.
General stuff like brake pads etc have been replaced but nothing extraordinary and I like to think that things on the Saab don't generally just fail - they sort of give you warning.
Over the years the car has suffered from a bit of tiredness on the exterior tand rim department as this car was never garaged.
Bonnet badge fell off. Matt black doorpost trim started to crack and fray. gearlever surround got a bit worn.
But overall always looked good after a wash and brush up and never an inkling of rust. Seems Saab don't do rust. But the body does get a lot of treatments in manafacture.
A good car to drive, even with heavy clutch and slightly stiff ride; the rear of the car seems to trundle after you a little noisily.
It's not as snappy to drive as newer cars but overall it's as solid and reliable as you're gonna get for it's age.
My first car was a 1993 Saab 2.0, first year of production of the 900 'NG', which shared many components with the contemporary Vauxhall / Opel Vectra. Don't be fooled by that lineage, however, the 900 remained a very different car, with a style and character all of its own.
As a second hand first car for your son or daughter, a concerned parent could do much worse than an old Saab 900. Rock solid build quality, and unreal crash protection. The normally aspirated 2.0 litre petrol engine was a fine choice, and surprisingly economical. With careful driving (and the onboard computer helps you nurture this) I achieved more than 32mpg most of the time. Just beware: the fuel tank is a healthy 65 litres, so with current petrol prices (in the UK at least) your fill-ups are quite pricey :)
My only complaints were occasional build quality issues, but due to the age of my car, wear and tear was to be expected. Some trim had come loose, notably above the pedals in the footwell and my gearbox needed a certain knack to achieve fourth-to-fifth gear transitions smoothly. Mechanically, the car was reliable and trouble free.
Overall the 900 'NG' is often overlooked by Saab enthusiasts because it's not considered a "real Saab" (General Motors had a major hand in its development). But the car drives and feels like a proper Saab, and decent second hand examples of both the economical 2.0 and the mental turbo versions make for a bargain second hand buy.
I got my first and only Saab 900 Turbo, a grey/lightblue 1987 that has got me through college and beyond. This car replaced an 1988 BMW 535 that was ruined graduation day with an accident with a drunk driver, Irony. To replace this car I found a $2000 Saab 900 Turbo, at first it was only temporary. But the Classic 900(8v), 900s(16v), and 900Turbo(16v)or SPG have many labels, one I hold true to, they grow on you.
The Classic 900 was made from 1979-early1994, a terrific lifespan for a single line of automobiles. However a 1979 900 is a far cry from a 1993 Turbo Convertable of SPG(Special Performance Group), but paying homage to the original design that dates back to the Saab 99 from the early to late 70's is needed. All or most 900 componants are interchangable.
Driving at first will seem sluggish in acceleration, until you take them to the highway and cruise over 60, its peak accelleration is dangerously between 60-130, before that they are slow and need lots of down shifting to make it up hills briskly.
There Transmissions are natoriously weak and slow shifting but a ginger driver can make them last longer. Make sure you keep the clutch replaced as specified.
Riding in the car is fairly spacious with a huge boot, this can hold large TV's or 60 gallons of water(I moved into and out of college with one very large load in my 900Turbo). The steering of the car is crisp and smooth, the front tyres really dig in which trades short tyre life for a glued to the road feel, especially in rain. Good snow tyres all round are needed for confident snow holding. In snowy weather the gearing of the transmission is actualy worth while, it sorta keeps your car and you in check.
Holding is predictable and there is a definate cut off point in gripping power, when mastered you will love windy roads though. I recommend high quality shocks all around(Bilstein or Koni), not for performance entirely but also these cars are very heavy with a full tank and one passenger(3800lbs) so sturdy shocks are a real must.
Repairs cost a bit unless done by owner, the two best manuels readily available are the 'Bentley manuel' and the 'Haynes manuel'. Most parts are very reasonable(I've had good luck with rebuilt items such as brakes). Key componants to test and replace if needed are the front ball joints and brakes all around. Can be done safely by owner.
These cars have orthopedic heated front seats and headrested rear(16v/Turbo) available in either leather or cloth. Interior night lighting is good but there are many bulbs to keep replaced, so too with the exterior lighting. Very visable to other cars when making turns or braking at night, I recommend finding a 900 with foglamps, if it doesn't have them most 900's were prewired for standard two wire foglamps that bolt quickly to the car(a cheap and valuable upgrade)the switch is located to the left of the stearing wheel.
You can find a good Classic 900 or Turbo for about $2000, anything under this may need serious repairs, if you are wanting somethign to collect or 'hotrod' then a SPG Turbo for $3000-6000 is for you. The convertable is fun but the handling is a little off and the Turbo versons seem overpowered, these summer cruisers run $2500-6000. The 4door models still offer respectable family/friend safety for $1500-3500. For turbo models, 84-87 turbos do not have water cooled Turbochargers so there turbobearings tend to burn out if you don't let them idle for a minute each time you shut it off. The 1988-93 Turbos have water coolled Turbochargers and are thought to be nearly indestructable. I own a 1987, this is a transisional year where the car got a new front end but not the newer more reliable watercooled turbo. Also, 1988-93's have better front brakes.
Final word, these cars are pretty cheap, pretty safe, sorta relaible, and a whole lotta fun. They seem perfect for students to early professionals(or retired professionals wanting to revisit their college days). And these strange practical cars still turn heads.
Saab 900 turbo.
The car of all cars, yes Im talking about the Saab 900 turbo. My fiancé (Shaun) has a Saab 900 turbo 16s (classic) Black, J-reg, 198,000 miles on the clock (yes thats nearly 200,000 miles) and its still going! That just shows how good these cars can be if looked after. Shaun has had it over a year, and believe you me he loves this car! My partner found his 'true love' under a tree just over a year ago. With much love (as Saabs do need) it was restored back to its natural beauty. Saabs are quite weird looking but in a beautiful way. The way they can handle the road is brilliant, and the acceleration is wkd (probably because of the BHP-which we will come to later)
The Classic Saab 900, manufactured from 1979 until 1993, remains to this day a very popular car with many thousands having been sold around the world, in the UK alone approx 80,000 were sold. Over the 14 years of its production the classic Saab 900 was sold in many variations, including 3 and 5 door hatchbacks, 2 and 4 door saloons, convertible and of course with a Turbo charger as well as normally aspirated.
In its day the classic 900 Turbo could give many a car a surprise with its tremendous performance, and to this day it still surprises many! (believe me, my fiancés car definitely turns heads!) Our Saab 900 T16s is so comfortable, stylish and reliable. Weve had a few problems with it though, but unfortunately anyone with a Saab will at some point experience problems and considering the amount of miles its done, the problems are normally due to weather and the need for a servive.
The 900 line includes several series of models, each of which represents a distinct performance class: the Saab 900 with the carburettor engine, the Saab 900 I with the fuel injection engine, the Saab 900 Turbo with the 8 valve turbocharged engine, and the Saab 900 Turbo 16 and Saab 900 Turbo 16S with the 16 valve turbocharged engine and my fiancé has given his Saab 900 T16s a dump valve as a present (another reason why it turns heads!)
The reasons for the popularity of this car are many, but could include the uniqueness of its design, the reliability and long life, the pleasure of driving it the list could go on and on! (which my fiancée will indeed agree with)
BHP. Four performance classes
By varying the auxiliary equipment, the basic engines are available in four performance classes -100 bhp, 118 bhp, 155 bhp and 175 bhp. All engines deliver their peak torque at relatively low revs, and the torque remains high over a wide range of engine speeds. So the driver's gear-changing work is minimised, since he has excellent tractive power at his command over a wide span of engine revs. My fiancés is 240bhp, which obviously has been modified, and god can she go, with top speeds reaching 195miles an hour (This has been tested on a race track at santapod-not on public roads!)
Although high top speeds and good acceleration from rest are important ingredients in a Saabs high performance, good low-speed tractive power and swift overtaking acceleration are far more vital. And so is a high cruising speed, mile after mile.
These cars are beautiful on and off road, and they really do drive beautifully. Some Saabs come with cruise control: which enables you to stay at a desired speed, especially if your prone to speeding in a 50mph zone (not a personal experience though...honest!?!)
The turbo engine offers the same acceleration and top speed of many six cylinder or eight cylinder engines, but without their inherent drawbacks of high weight, unwieldy bulk, many moving parts and high fuel consumption. Believe me ours is bloody expensive to run, Shaun can do 45 miles on 180 pounds!!
These are just examples of standard size engines for a Saab 900
Engine rating, DIN:
100 bhp (73 kW) at 5200 rpm
Fuel injection engine
118 bhp (87 kW) at 5500 rpm
155 bhp (114 kW) at 5000 rpm
16 valve turbo engine
175 bhp (129 kW) at 5000 rpm
The long succession of recent accolades confirms the competitiveness of the Saab 900 line. In Japan, for instance, it has received a design award from the Ministry of International Tiade and Industry (MITI). One of the largest British motoring journals has awarded the Saab 900 Turbo 16 S the title of the "Best Director's Car". Not to mention the largest West German motoringjournal, whose readers have acclaimed the Saab 900 as the best medium class imported car for six years in succession. These are just a couple of awards won.
Saabs are comfortable, reliable and safe. I recommend anyone to buy one, mainly a saab 900 T16s. Saabs have a stigma that it's an 'old mans car' but the generation is getting younger, which we Saab fanatics like to see!
Thanks for reading! x
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Saabs do have a sort of "middle aged ex-debutant" feel about them which is hard to feel irritated or offended by. Its distinct panavision windscreen and long snout gives it enough pose to sit next to a Citroen DS and not blush. The 3-door with spoiler is a classic shape. The 5-door tends to carry a size 12-14 feel - Alison Moyet rather than Marilyn Munroe. Inside, it's very narrow! Changing gear can lead to unintended knee gropes. It is VERY long - longer than a Volvo estate, so watch out in car parks. The boot is legendary. I have carried all sorts of stuff - beds, a garden, a tandem bike (well, a LWB recumbent), an oversized aquarium... it all gets swallowed up in this huge portable black hole. There is a really annoying lip, though - none of the Volvoeque "slide it in", you have to hump it over the bump. Comfort is superb. Everyone comments on how comfortable it is, how solid it feels, how there are no rattles and squeaks - though they are there. It?s a weird perception thing. Honestly, if you haven't done a long drive in a Saab 900 (old), you won't appreciate the depth of the comfort achieved. Well, unless you have a Volvo perhaps. :-) Bodywork has lasted well, but its not impervious to rust. Mud flaps have helped in this respect, despite grinding on every road bump you find. Performance is NOT great in the 'i' model. It will NOT burn rubber or perform magic feats of acceleration. But it does reward smooth and brisk driving combined with good choice of gear and throttle by giving predictable handling and a lot of feedback. It's nice to drive a car that gives you warning when things approach its limits, and it's an ego boost to drive better than the car. If you want sheer competence, get an Impreza or something - you will never know how good it is. Auntie Saab will go to the edge and say "I doubt if I can do th
is better". Well, it keeps you out of hedges. Saabs are now reaching the age and category exemplified by the 1970s sports car: You'd better be good at repairs or have plenty of money and a DEEP distrust of dealers. Get yourself a bloke in a shed lined up before you own one. Saab 900s ARE reliable if they are looked after and if you are aware that after 100k, bits will wear out and require more than the gestalt value to replace. Talk to vintage Porsche owners - do you see their point of view? Remember that every time you authorise a £1k bill, you are in effect buying a brand new used Saab that will last you 24 months. If you owned a new car of the same ilk, you'd spend 4 times that in depreciation each year (maybe), plus you paid half your salary for it in the first place. On the other hand, the newer Saabs do not excite me one iota. I've heard 9000s are good - very good, in fact. After 14 years with Saabs, I wanted a change. But there was a stone in my heart when I handed over the keys. WHAT WENT WRONG? - Petrol pump replaced (was full of dirt from previous owner - a farmer with his own pump) - Fuel Injection problems traced to dealer setting idle jet too low. - Rear hatch would come loose if carrying anything heavy or bulky that would rub against the rear door - may be due to a nasty nearside rear shunt the car had when young. Nearside rear door needed a teeny bit more elbow to shut properly. - On-going electrical problems - things cutting out, indicators dim etc - not the alternator as dealer said, but bad earth, which "bloke in shed" found. Solved by welding earth to body. - A regular habit of flooding when starting engine cured by above bloke in shed, but if it happens: pop the hood, remove the petrol pump fuse, start the car, stop the car, replace fuse, start car. Works every time. - Running really hot - got worse over time. Alm
ost lead to overheating (put heater on full, fans on full, open windows and experience the Saab Sauna). Dealer tried thermostat, tried flushing system, tried skimming heads (very very expensive), but still overheating - as I did too. Bloke in shed tried putting a new radiator in - it never overheated again. - Fan-belt went at 120k. Carry a spare. In fact, carry spare fuses too, and bulbs, belts, fluids, fuel, tools and know how to use them or who to call if necessary. This is a Classic Car, not a Mondeo. - Central locking went after an attempted break-in. They got in, then got out again. At least they didn't break a window. Oh yes. Windows. - Electric window switches (front) died at 130k - swapped wiring with rear switches, which worked well. Saved loadsamoney. - Tyres lasted 8k at the front, and I needed new front pads rather more often than necessary, but I do enjoy driving a great deal. IN CONCLUSION: The Saab 900 is, on the face of it, pure sensibleness. Sensible, yes - but that needn't discount fun or pleasure. It's cheap Classic Motoring, it's one of the last affordable cars with true charisma, and it's still a great anti-statement for those who can't quite face life with a BMW or Merc.
The Saab 900 turbo (9-3 shape) looks nice - bit sparce inside but very functional. Many people, including myself, were/are not prepared for what happens when one puts their right down. I know that all Saab's now have a turbo fitted as standard but the majority are low pressure turbos giving just a bit of extra grunt. The full blown, high pressure turbo provides all the grunt! It has a raw animal quality to it, meaning that if you treat without the respect it deserves there is a good chance it'll throw you in a ditch with only its airbags to save you. However the main problem with this car is its handling or more to the point the feeling it gives through the wheel to the driver. The power steering is light and very vague. you can never be sure whether or not the car is understeering or just that you are having to turn the steering wheel more than you would expect. With the power this can make it feel a little daunting to say the least. This problem affects the entire driving experience of the car. you cant throw it around corners as you don't know how the car is reacting and it also kind of gets rid of the point of having so much power under the bonnet. For motorway cruising its great - very quick, quiet and relaxing. With the correction that is offered by some racing firms though the car can be transformed into what it should have been designed for in the first place. With new springs and the steering tightened you can really enjoy the feeling of driving one of the most understated performance cars on the road.
Why is Saab virtually unique in getting uglier and uglier as each new model is introduced? The first was by far the prettiest, but it was a gradual decline downhill since. Still, the first version of the 900 is still pretty nice compared to what came after GM took over and there was that embarassing collaboration with FIAT and Alfa to create the Duck 9000. Mine is an 89 red 900 automatic, which cruises around town and motorway so effortlessly I feel like toad of toad hall. In fact it is so relaxing I just drive slower and slower and no one ever cares because everyone except mercedes respect Saab - Scania. Oddly when I service it everyone wants to overtake me no matter how fast I drive the Clios and Polos they give me to replace the road queen. I had no idea it actually has a bit of welly as I got myself into an altercation with a boy racer as we pulled up to the front row of a queue for a red light. I put my foot on the floor and was approaching 60 within seconds, while the national front hooligan disappeared into depths of my rear view mirror. As it was a 40 zone I took my foot off the throttle and allowed the mini GTi to struggle past while I stuck my finger up (not really). The old bird is 12 now, but she's no fat lady and has not started to sing yet, but she does have a bit of a drink habit which I have to hand over at the rate of .33 pints for each mile we cruise together. Only problem is that I cannot turn the heating off as this is not considered necessary in its mother country. Well that's what I'll say if I ever sell it and the next owner notices. Better wait for the winter.
The Saab 900 Turbo was, in its day, a much sought after “prestige” car. From the famous Swedish manufacturers of jet engines, this vehicle was viewed as almost the ultimate “flying machine”, and sold equally well to both performance car enthusiasts and the executive market. I purchased a 1986 version of this car in the early 1990’s. I was mooching around one of the Dublin car auctions on the morning of a sale day, and there it was. Now, buying from a car auction would not normally be my method of choice when looking for a car, but this looked to be in reasonable kind of shape. No obvious accident damage or rust, an average kind of mileage, (about 80K) and it started first turn of the key with a healthy sounding growl from the engine. An enquiry at the sales desk offered up the “reserve price”, and I put in an offer on the spot at about £300 below what was being asked. A phone call to the owner, and it was mine. (By the way, a lot of people don’t know you can do this at an auction, but it is fairly common practice.) I had heard so many good things about this car that I could hardly wait to get on the road and give it some “welly”. I am sorry to say I was to be sorely disappointed. The car was well enough appointed, with all the usual “bells and whistles” you would expect on a top of the range car, such as power steering, electric windows, memory seats, electric tilt and slide sunroof, etc. It also looked the part, with its sleek, aerodynamic shape and all leather interior. But it was on the road that it did not live up to my expectations. I found the gearbox “sticky” and prone to jump out of second gear, with fifth gear also being very difficult to locate. Its “turbo” label was a joke! There was so much lag time between putting your foot on the throttle and the turbo kicking in, that if you had been in a tight overtaking manoeuvre, y
our next port of call would undoubtedly been the mortuary. It fell down on roadholding too, with the rear end just loving to slip away from you if you dared to give it too much stick going through a corner. The suspension was way too firm, even for a performance car (and I use the term performance very loosely) and left you feeling as if you had been sitting on a pile of rocks after even the shortest of journeys. And it had a thirst for petrol which would have put a Jumbo jet to shame. I would readily admit that perhaps I didn’t purchase what could be called a “prime” specimen of this vehicle, but even allowing for the bit of hard use it may have had, it still did not come away with any rosettes. My experience with the car was short lived. I traded it in within the fortnight.
The year was '91 and i was a mere 14 when my dad rolled home with a new Saab 900 turbo sport! Now this was a fast car at around 170 bhp, and could easily top 60 in about 8 seconds. Imagine my amazment (especially as the original had an unfortunate incident with a broken gearbox) when i called him up for a chat last week and he duly informed that he had re-purchased an R-reg version of the 900 turbo se 16v beast. This baby is top spec with full leather interior and packing 195 bhp! The only thing i could say was.....when do i get a play in it? Better be careful though, 9 points (another story) and a near 200 horse car could be a costly combination.