Let's talk about that again Saab cult ! Saab as a hobby, beyond the design icon Saab 900. If you want to get in, you could do so with the second generation of the Saab 900. A difficult topic that I dare to tackle ... admittedly! Because the second generation of the Saab 900 had a hard time. Because a particularly bad-tempered troll must have been the godfather when he was born in the Stallbacka. The Saab 902 got the fight against a legend and a fall as a mortgage on its way. That couldn't work! It all started so well ...
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.
Should have! But they refused. Great seats, better than the 901? Pah, it doesn't matter. A whopping 185 turbo hp instead of just 160? No matter either. Compared to the 901, an almost eerie calm in the interior? Completely uninteresting. The list could go on and on. I didn't buy one myself at the time, because I lacked the charm of the previous model.
Then the evil "Opel“Word got through the press, and the first crash tests were a disaster for Saab. In addition, only a turbo and the rest nasty vacuum cleaner? That was too much for me, too, I didn't want an Opel or a vacuum cleaner either, and so I stayed loyal to the 901. Used copies followed, and it wasn't until the 9-3 II that a new car from Trollhättan came into 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?
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 original Saab except for a few components. Because with Swedish stubbornness - and to the annoyance of the Americans - local suppliers and traditional relationships were preferred in Trollhättan until the end.
But Opel was more of a curse than a blessing, and the use of Rüsselsheim components severely damaged the Swedes' image. For the European motor press, the Saab 902 was an Opel or a Vauxhall. That it is not so, you can read in Anders Tunberg's book "Saab 900 - a Swedish story". But the flaw remained and weighs on the 902 to this day.
Fight against a legend
Hollywood always knew! The fight against a legend cannot be won. The classic 900 was out of date in its final years, and the 902 could do everything better. But what good is all objectivity if your gut feeling is against it. The 902 lacks the bubbly sound and charisma of the previous generation. Legends never die. The shadow of the 901 haunted the 902 throughout its life. You always lose the fight against legends.
The better is the good enemy
The 900 II was only built until 1998, a short term for Saab standards. The successor looked better and more modern. Was "Saabiger" and better to drive. The fact that the 9-3 then got a diesel under the hood in addition to many more turbo variations made the 900 II even less interesting. The Saab 902 was a Swede with no chance. Rubbed between the Saab 900 myth, 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.
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.
The Saab 902 is the basement child of the Saab scene. Therefore, you can find it where there is typically no Saab. The friendly flag dealer on the gravel square is a focal point or the backyard of a large car dealership. Saab 902 are often pushed into the second row or in dirty corners! He did not deserve that. The classified ads on the Internet and the usual online portals are a source anyway.
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.
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.
As with any upcoming young or old-timer, the following rule applies to the Saab 900 II: Cabriolets are more sought-after than coupés and these are more desirable than sedans. A turbo is always more interesting than a vacuum cleaner. Checkbook and traceable history are always preferable.
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.
The 185 hp turbo fits very well and leaves little to be desired. Confident and with a sporty approach, he is the "Saabigste" in the 900 II series. These copies were often ordered in the SE equipment, which comes up with leather, automatic air conditioning and many other nice things. Luxury is available here for little money.
One possible investment is the Saab 902 Mellow-Yellow Cabriolet, which the Swedes brought onto the market in cooperation with Rinspeed. Limited to 210 copies, it was supposed to build on the success of the Monte Carlo convertibles. Which didn't work out. Monte Carlos are still on everyone's lips, but who speaks of the Yellow Mellow. Is it? Mellow yellows are traded between 7.000,00 and 8.000,00 euros. The trend is rising slightly.
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 out: Because the 901 or the 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Photos: Saab Automobile AB (1), saabblog.net