SAAB cult: Getting on the Saab 900 II

Let's talk about that again Saab cult ! Saab as a hobby, beyond the design icon Saab 900. If you want to get started, you could do so with the second generation of the Saab 900. A difficult topic that I dare ... admitted! Because the second generation of the Saab 900 had a hard time. For a particularly ill-tempered troll must have been godfather at his birth in the Stallbacka. The Saab 902 got as a mortgage the fight against a legend and a fall with the way. That could not work! Everything had started so well ...

Saab 900 SE Yellow Mellow Cabriolet 1988
Saab 900 SE Yellow Mellow Cabriolet 1988

His design makes him recognizable as Saab at first glance. The shape of an aircraft wing redefined and brought into shape, the well-known Saab hatchback. Both his predecessor and the Saab 9000 with its continuous light bands at the rear were the inspiration. The interior also typical Saab, no question. Sophisticated ergonomics, which hardly needs any further words and which is still presentable today.

The first Saab 900 II experiences

My first ride 1993 with a new Saab 900 Turbo is still in my memory today as if it was yesterday. A brand new demonstration car in the luxurious SE outfit. 185 PS's top-of-the-line motoring made for a superior driving experience, and the 902 was actually doing better than its predecessor back then. Much more space, more comfort, better engine and the wonderful Saab hatchback.

The fans and the blogger should have loved the new one.

Had! But they refused. Great seats, better than the 901? Pah, no matter. Full 185 Turbo PS instead of just 160? Also, no matter. Compared to the 901 a spooky silence in the interior? Completely uninteresting. You could write the list as you like. I also did not buy one at that time because I did not have the charm of the predecessor.

Then the evil was buzzing "OpelWord by the press, and the first crash tests were a disaster for Saab. This only a turbo and the rest of vile sucker? That was too much for me too, I did not want an Opel, I did not want a sucker, so I stayed true to the 901. It was followed by used copies and only with the 9 3 II came again a new car from Trollhättan in our garage.

The Saab 900 II - 20 years later

If you drive an 20 today, 902 years later, then my decision does not seem so clear to me anymore. Because the 902 has in retrospect and in comparison with current cars a lot of charm and individuality with a lot of turbo power. Had I decided wrong then? Why was it that the fan community is still pouting and the 902 is the Cinderella of the Saab scene?

Saab 9-5 sports suit and 900 II. Full-length rear strap
Saab 9-5 sports suit and 900 II. Full-length rear strap


Fall of Man in Trollhättan

It was the Fall of Man at Saab. With the handle on the GM shelf came together, which did not fit together from the image. The Vectra platform was a means to an end, the rest remained, except for a few components, original Saab. Because with Swedish stubbornness - and to the annoyance of the Americans - in Trollhättan they preferred to the end local suppliers and traditional relationships.

But Opel was more of a curse than a blessing, and the use of Rüsselsheim components harmed the image of the Swedes sustainably. For the European engine press, the Saab 902 was an Opel or Vauxhall. That it is not so, you can read in Anders Tunberg's book "Saab 900 - a Swedish story". But the stigma remained and burdened the 902 until today.

Fight against a legend

Hollywood has always known! The fight against a legend can not be won. The classic 900 was outdated in recent years, and the 902 could do better. But what use all objectivity, if the gut feeling is against it. The 902 lacks the bubbling sound and charisma of the previous generation. Legends never die. The shadow of the 901 tracked the 902 all its life. The fight against legends is always lost.

The better is the good enemy

The 900 II was built only until 1998, a short runtime for Saab ratios. The successor looked better and more modern. Was "Saabiger" and better to drive. The fact that the 9-3 got a diesel under its hood in addition to a lot more turbo variations made the 900 II even less interesting. The Saab 902 was a Swede with no chance. Rubbed between the myth Saab 900, the 9-3 I and the Fall of Trollhättan.

Anyone looking for an 902 today needs a lot of patience. Because it's easier to find a Saab 900 Turbo 16 S in top condition than a good 902.

The curse of the hatchback

As soon as the Saab 9-3 I celebrated its debut, the 902 was forgotten. The fans preferred to deal with the classic 900 and left the 902 on the left. As a result, prices fell, and the 902 was carelessly used and consumed as a cheap, practical hatchback. Pram in, as a helper on the construction, vans for the move or transporter for material from the hardware store. The 902 puts everything away without complaint, and the curse of the hatchback makes the 902 a consumer car.

Saab 900 V6 at the Saab Museum
Saab 900 V6 at the Saab Museum

Buy Saab 902!

The Saab 902 is better than its reputation. Everything that makes a Saab to the Saab comes from Sweden, and Saab legend Erik Carlsson was on board for the vote of the good-natured chassis. The engines, except for the V6, are Saab constructions as well as the manual transmissions. The Saab 900 Series II is one of the first vehicles where ecology was respected. Asbestos-free, CFC-free, recyclable, and natural materials show how Saab was ahead of its time. Wood filler in the doors, any other car manufacturer would have made a green story out of it. At Saab that was forgotten again.

Where buy?

The Saab 902 is the basement child of the Saab scene. Therefore, you can find it where there is typically no Saab. The friendly pennant dealer on the gravel place is a starting point or the backyard of a large car dealership. Saab 902 are happy to be deported to the second row or in dirty corners! He did not deserve that. The classified ads on the Internet and the usual online portals are anyway a source.

What to look out for?

Those looking for a Saab 900 Series II should have patience, patience and patience. As with many classic cars, the rule here is that the condition of the bodywork should be decisive. The technology is comparatively robust and can be repaired with reasonable effort. The weak points on the 902 are the mounting of the front struts, the rear spring plates and the rear wheel arches. Rust threatens here!

The turbo engine, if maintained, is a tough one. If it is not so, there is danger here. Because many Saab 902 were maintained at the big workshop chains or not at all. Maintenance and repair congestion are the result. When buying, look for defective cylinder head gaskets, bearing damage on the turbocharger and obsolete turbo hoses!

This does not apply to vacuum cleaners with 2 or 2.3 liters. Only the balance shafts at 2.3 come eventually to their limits and call for an engine revision. The kits are available, if available, for a fair price on the Saab Parts AB and make a revision affordable. But there are previous owners who did not want to invest even this money, and simply put the balance shafts, by removing the chains, shut down.

A special position that should be avoided if possible, takes the Saab Sensonic. A semi-automatic and Saab development, which in conjunction with the 2.0 liter turbo should provide for sporty yet comfortable driving experiences. The Sensonic instead caused problems and annoyance among customers. Saab ended the adventure in a short time, and some Sensonic-900 were converted to manual transmission. Hardly any of these variants survived.

The interior of the 902 is robust, because Saab built durable materials. The seats often have nice, thick leather, and nice to find an 902 with original radio. The Saab Infodisplay SID suffers from pixel errors, but they can be fixed for a small fee.

As I said, patience, patience and patience are important. Again and again, though rarely, one finds copies from first or second hand. Checkbook-maintained copies are rare, but not impossible.

The price situation

What price? The Saab 902 is not cheap. He's just cheap, or rather, almost a gift. The prices start at a few euros and climb even for convertibles rarely on the 4 or 5.000 Euro threshold. Good limousines or coupes you get with a little luck for little money. Therefore, you should always take the better or more expensive copy in case of doubt.

Saab Partner with tradition: Saab Bredlow in Berlin
Saab Partner with tradition: Saab Bredlow in Berlin

Spare Parts & Workshop

The situation is relaxed, thanks to Saab Parts AB. Many parts get new or become with traditional Saab partners, like the oldest dealer of Germany Saab Bredlow, find the unavailable parts on the shelf. In Sweden and at the dealerships there are also used parts, good contacts to a Saab operation and to the Saab scene are also with the 902 advantage. If you decide on the fabulous 2.0 Turbo, then a Saab workshop is mandatory. The turbo needs a knowledgeable hand, the large workshop chains and free screwdrivers without Saab background are overwhelmed.

Which buy?

As with any upcoming classic or vintage car, the following rule applies to the Saab 900 II: Convertibles are more popular than coupes, and these are more popular than sedans. A turbo is always more interesting than a sucker. Checkbook and comprehensible history are always to be preferred.

To speak of an investment would be too much to say. Because even the optimist in me sees little potential in the 902 for the foreseeable future. But cheaper is no longer possible, and the foreseeable market shortage will regulate the price level in the next few years. Vehicles of the last two years are qualitatively better than early specimens.

Very well fits the 185 PS Turbo, which leaves little to be desired. Sovereign and sporty approaches, he is the "Saabigste" in the 900 II series. These specimens were often ordered in the SE equipment, which comes with leather, climate control and many other nice things. Luxury is here for little money.

One possible investment is the Saab 902 Mellow-Yellow Cabriolet, which the Swedes brought to market in cooperation with Rinspeed. Limited to 210 copies, it should build on the success of the Monte Carlo Cabriolets. What did not succeed. Monte Carlos is still on everyone's lips, but who speaks of the Yellow Mellow. Or? Mellow yellows are traded between 7.000,00 and 8.000,00 Euro. Tendency slightly rising.

Less exciting, but faithful companions, are the 4 cylinder naturally aspirated engines with 150 or 130 PS. Even the Talladega special model, which is reminiscent of the second long-run, does not (yet) create much desirability. The V6 from the GM Regal splits the scene. A bit rough, but quite robust, it is the only engine that does not come from Saab and that is not powered by chain. There is often a good equipment to buy in the SE level.

The entrance with the 902 into the Saab cult is to have for smallest money. Dismantled vehicles with unclear history and huge maintenance backlog should therefore be avoided. Still the choice is quite large and still we can afford to take the better copy.

The cult factor quick check:

+ Boarding: If you are looking for a Saab for little money and the word image is meaningless. Best with the strong turbo engine.

- Get Off: Because the 901 or 9-3 I are the more iconic or better cars.

+ Insider tip: The Talladega special edition. Unlike later Talladega Editions no marketing scam, but a car with a historical background. Hard to find. Or the 900R. He is not a marketing story, but more. If you do not know the story, learn the background on Monday on the blog.

- Cult Ranking: Still low. And honestly, it can only get better.

Text: tom@saabblog.net Photos: Saab Automobile AB (1), saabblog.net

12 thoughts on "SAAB cult: Getting on the Saab 900 II"

  • 900 II, SAAB yes or rather no ?? I think “ER” is part of the Saab story. Although I am sure that the Saabians from Trollhättan were not happy, about the ordered handles on the Opel shelf. I myself had the honor to be present at the presentation of the 1993 II in Trollhättan in 900. The new car was presented to us under the motto “The NEW 900, very SAAB”. When I think back on it, I still get goose bumps today. It was just super cool ...
    Even though this car appeared more European than a trivial Saab, it has attracted many new customers from other brands who could not do anything with SAAB before.
    Unfortunately, the disillusionment with the quality issue came afterwards. The 1994 model year should have been given to SAAB in relation to the 900 II.
    From the 900II then a 9 3 close was absolutely correct from the perspective of the marketing experts, this car is still well traded. My son, who has been infected with SAAB for some years now, drives an 2000er 9-3 280.000km on the clock, he still looks like he's been pissed off.
    I myself bought a 9000 CS with 170 PS, the best decision in my car life, so that my wife got the same car.
    But everything has an end, now we drive both 9-5 station wagon, one of them an AERO, both great cars in great condition, but not just my beloved 9000er ,,,

  • Beautiful report Tom!
    I can only agree with the positive experiences in the comments. Our 902 convertible 2,3i is a very reliable car and so timeless that hardly a SAAB stranger can estimate the age. Both the interior and the trunk is suitable for small families, such convertibles can hardly be found today. I sit with my 195cm on long distances really well and get fit again - SAAB just.
    The 2,3i, of course, lacks the turbo steam, but it is by far the most fuel-efficient of our four SAABs and is perfect for cruising with an open roof. If necessary, he already has enough reserves, even on the highway in higher speeds.
    The 9-31 has been further developed and improved in many details.
    The chassis are certainly no Kurvenräuber, but contribute a lot to the long-distance comfort, which is more important to me and give (especially the 9000) a super clear feedback on the road conditions. This has saved me a few times in the winter, because it announces in time, when it gets serious!

  • Our 900-2 new car experience, he was our first SAAB, was consistently positive. He was durable, reliable and left the family for more than 300.000 kilometers. Of course, the 9-3-1 was much better to drive and if today I would resort to pure-mindedness to the Youngtimer, then without question to the 9-3-1.
    Nevertheless, the 900-2 is a piece of SAAB history and who has not understood that until today, who will never understand. The article is very well written on a very sensitive topic. Maybe he's moving something. Thanks Tom!

  • The irony is that the Opel employees - mechanics / fitters, designers and developers alike - enjoy an excellent reputation in the industry, but unfortunately can only do so in a very limited way. And yes - from the end of the 80er and the beginning of the 90er, a good reputation was destroyed with great sustainability. And to regain that, will probably take at least as much time again.

  • The transverse engine saves space - see 9000, which offers significantly more passenger space on a comparable vehicle length than the 900. Unfortunately, it also prevents a reasonable front axle, if you do not want to escalate too far in the vehicle width.
    In this regard, it would have my own "900" 9000 successor on 900-based very difficult to water the predecessor in my opinion. The first post-900 Saab, which drives reasonably cleanly, so worthy of successor to the 9, is the 3-90II, which actually teaches dynamics to its steering rear axle. The drove then mannerly, but looked for it unfortunately initially as XNUMX-years Opel (and was only with the "Sith" facelift halfway tolerable, because intrusive and thus at least no longer boring).

    The connection with Opel came at the worst possible time. At least since the end of the 80er years was "Opel" for us adolescents the synonym for "cheapest dirt". (This assessment will probably never get out of the minds of my peers again, even if the Rüsselsheimer since the Astra G have started again not even so bad cars build). Any association with Opel had to have fatal consequences at the beginning of 90. It also had that 2010, as the new and really outstanding 9-5 was at least received in the press as a pompous insignia.

  • the 902 was our entry into the Saab world in 1994 with a 2,0i, because I did not drive a Saab before, nothing was missing, we only upgraded the basic equipment with fog lights and front passenger airbag. Even the vacuum cleaner (at that time without a balance shaft for it with 133PS) also made the 200km / h limit without grumbling. The chassis cut a better figure in the snow mulch than the aero9k purchased later. What fascinates me to this day is the shape of the 902, we deliberately chose it with unpainted bumpers. This made it look slimmer and longer than those in body color or the 9-3I.

    It's always a question of where you come from and what your claims are, for me the 94er 902 was a quantum leap and a faithful companion for more than 10 years. Today I arrived with the 9-5IIaero at the other end Saabskala, certainly because the previous Saab-companion were loyal and in total inexpensive companions.

  • This type of front axle design is also a logical consequence of Saab's efforts in the early stages of development (starting with 1986 after the introduction of 9000) to build the 900 with the ground group and components of the 9000. In this way many similar parts could have been used.

    By the way, the negative name of the 900 II in the commentary shows how well the press has worked.

  • It should not be forgotten that Opel had to contend with the launch of the 900-II itself with massive quality problems (Ola, Senor Lopez!). Otherwise, SAAB was once again ahead of its time, platform sharing, even across brand boundaries, is now common practice. Had Opel had better quality standards at the time, the 900-II might be a glorious chapter in SAAB history today. On many pictures certainly looks class, especially the convertible.

  • The 900 had just like the 9 3 I the problem that it dripped into the trunk, if you opened the door after rain and you also had the seat wet for the same reason. Not very thoughtful. The landing gear rumbled and the door seals did not deserve their name. These are my experiences after 200000 km in this vehicle. Moreover, with the 900 I Convertible, you can drive much faster than 100 km / h, without it tearing the scalp off your head. Unfortunately this was not possible with the 900 II. And ... legends live longer

  • Thanks for the report,

    On the 902 it becomes clear how important the image of a product is, the connection to Opel was always on the screen and the journalists exploited the story without researching it everything that only a Swede can draw a Saab. After Jason Castriota's attempt, I can only confirm the statement in the book. We ourselves drove two 902s. A 902 Talladega vacuum cleaner was our entry into the Saab world after years of Saab and served as a perfect family car. This car could do everything and was rock solid in the years we owned it! A convertible also later pulled our fleet, namely as a 2.0 l with 2,3 PS, which could be a horror in the left lane with super plus fueled. For me, the real insider tip (albeit without turbo), which whispers 150 and plays this typical Saab symphony, is indestructible and could also be moved very sparingly. Later we had a 2,3 93 as a diesel and currently it is a 1 sports suit with a deer under the hood. Saab is more than just a car, a reliable companion to our family and an integral part of our lives. Nothing comes to Saab for a very long time. Professionally, I drive another brand, a great car, but something is missing that I cannot describe in a few words. I would still prefer every Saab 95 to a more modern Audi or BMW, for example. In the sum of its properties, the shape was unique. An entry into the Saab world with the 902? Do! So in the future please hatchbacks with their own Swedish flair! There is a gap in the market that is currently filled with A902 / A5 and 7GT in the future. What is much more important: there is also a market in the gap.

  • Difficult topic, well written! Chapeau

  • A very huge minus is missing in the list: the combination McPherson Gelump with Opel rear axle. Already the 9000 did the McPherson front axle not good, which can only drive straight and if it is exceptionally time to go around the corner, the whole just feels angular and wrong. But you forgive that, because he is space-ship and freeway glider, and he can drive straight ahead quite well.
    The 900, on the other hand, can be transformed into a rural road heater if desired thanks to its elaborate chassis with double wishbone axle. To this day I have not driven any other front-wheel drive vehicle that is so agile, turns so nimbly, understeers so little as a well-maintained and adjusted 900 ...
    And that's exactly what the Saab Vectra can not do. It will certainly not be worse than other front-wheel drive vehicles of the time, but who comes from the 900 sets just a slightly different scale.
    Add to that the partly unloving workmanship and the completely horrible hard plastic.

    A pity, because the thing is pretty.

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