Saab 900 II saga. Never tell Opel to me.

The schedule was tight, but Saab kept the deadlines, more or less. 1993 is ready for delivery to the 900 II, and it has become a real Saab. The design quotes its predecessor, and it brings many innovations on the way.

The Saab 900 II
The Saab 900 II. Image: Saab Automobile AB

The ingenious Nightpanel, then called the Black Panel, is one of them. Passengers on the rear seat reliably protect a newly developed carrier that receives the headrests and straps. A Saab idea, implemented by Autoliv, which also improves the rigidity of the body. The Safeseat Concept is another milestone. It prevents the passengers from diving under the seat belt during the accident. The great Saab Trionic is now also in the middle class. Ergonomics, safety and environmental friendliness mean that the new is groundbreaking.

The 900 II is comfortable, practical and very fast with the powerful turbo engines. Optionally a sports car, a station wagon or a family car. A multitool and just typical Saab.

Saab 1947 - 1993. The design line still follows the shape of an airplane wing
Saab 1947 - 1993. The design line still follows the shape of an airplane wing. Image: Saab Automobile AB
The Saab 900 II and the alternative facts.

Nevertheless, dark clouds are rising. It takes its revenge that under time pressure an almost finished project was transformed onto a foreign platform. Two worlds, two philosophies, that could not be good! Quality and manufacturing problems are increasing, which is also due to the increased clock speed in the Saab factory. The 110 900 I hours of production on 40 hours in 900 II may be too ambitious. Saab founds a taskforce, takes off developers from other projects. Improves under pressure. As production progresses, the 900 II gets better year by year.

In parallel, the press fires on the new Saab. Construct an Opel kinship that does not exist on that scale. There is hardly any Opel under the plate. The famous engines come all but the V6 from Saab. The manual transmission of Saab, the automatic transmission of Aisin. Opel buys Saab gearboxes that are more robust than their own designs and installs them in their own vehicles. The press does not write about that.

Many come from medium-sized Swedish suppliers who have worked for Saab long before. Yes, in the interior one finds scattered counters from the group shelves. At the mirrors, for example. That's not different with other small brands. Aston Martin has Ford switches in the interior, Volvo too. The brand from Gothenburg has been using Ford's floor panels for decades on a grand scale. But nobody in the press is interested, nobody writes the cars down.

The 900 II is a Saab through and through. Until just on the bottom group, which, however, was heavily modified. Only the handling, the slightly wooden rolling, reminiscent of an Opel. It is the unholy sound of Vectra and Co, who keeps recalling the organ donation from Rüsselsheim.

But the alternative facts are an effective poison. To date, the 900 II has not gotten rid of the unjustified Opel image of the 80 years.

Saab 900 II Coupe and Sedan
Saab 900 II Coupe and Sedan. Image: Saab Automobile AB
1993, beyond Sweden.

I drive since 1992 Saab. An 900 S Sport. A black coupe, with sunroof, leather, air conditioning and everything you could wish for. I am very satisfied, but my Saab dealer does not exist anymore. Saab Germany provisionally takes over the dealership, and while my 900 is on inspection, I drive the new 900 II.

There are cars that leave an impression. Their first ride you will never forget. And there are cars that you never remember. As if they never existed. The 900 II belongs to the first kind. I remember as if it had been yesterday, at the first meeting. The strong 185 PS Turbo, the quiet in the interior and the then perceived as generous space. The gearbox, which was so soft compared to the 900 I, and the great seats. A dream of a car, and a big hit.

Saab was at the forefront with the 900 II. I liked the car from the first moment, but I did not buy one. Why? That said inspection ended in disaster for Saab. It was followed by an unpleasant correspondence and in the end the agreement only under legal pressure. All this would have been avoidable if one had accepted the obvious.

What happened? During the inspection, the brake pads were due. They were calculated, but not exchanged. A mistake perhaps, a negligence. A few days later sheet metal braked on sheet metal, the brake disks were then also behind it. Saab Germany refused to admit the mistake until my lawyer took care of it.

My Saab story could have been over at that time. But she was not. I drove on several Saab 900 and ignored the brand and its official agencies otherwise. That did not change until years later, when an unexpected Saab manager was standing in front of my door. The initial spark to buy a new Saab. But that's another story.

Saab 900 II press photo 1993
Saab 900 II press photo 1993. Image Saab Automobile AB

The 900 II saved Saab from destruction. As a project 102 he brought the rescue, without which GM would not have entered Trollhättan. Its design is typical of a Saab, as well as its interior, the powerful engines, the clever innovations. Actually, everything, until just on the bottom group. Soberly, she was a completely impossible choice, just as the relationship with the Americans was unimportant from the start. But there were no alternatives. Without GM, and without the base of the Opel Vectra platform, the saga of Saab 1990 or 91 would have been over.

The 900 II is a car with a tragic history. The madness of marrying a far advanced project with an unknown floor group has cost Saab a lot of money and prestige. Presumably it would have been more cost effective to restart with a blank sheet of paper in the year 1990. But looking back, you're always smarter.

In addition, almost everything was crazy what Saab did from 1990. A company that had just launched 1947 new cars from 1990 to 3 was booming. In the plant world one calls the "fear bloom", the fear of the downfall. Parallel to the 900 II rolled the second 9000 generation at the start, the development for the first-class Saab began - this without major investments and without hiring more staff. The upper-class Saab was never there, because ultimately lacked the courage. 900 II and 9000 II have become fabulous cars, hats off to this achievement!

The 900 II deserves to be maintained and maintained by the fans. Because he has an unusual story to tell. And which car can it already?

But the opposite is unfortunately the case. The alternative facts of the motor press, which for various reasons did not want to deal with the true genesis, are still having an effect today. What a pity. A missed opportunity, because the genesis provides good material and a lot of drama. Finding a good 900 II today has become difficult. They were needed and used up. But seldom loved.

34 thoughts too "Saab 900 II saga. Never tell Opel to me."

  • 15. February 2018 at 10: 47 AM

    Yes, the 900II was probably a good car indeed. But unfortunately a stink-boring ... At least my personal experience.
    No, I've never had the pleasure of driving a turbo. Mine was a '96er injection.
    Solid and probably good for several hundred thousand kilometers. But unfortunately zero emotions.
    I doubt that it was just the engine. I later had two 9000 CC. Also as Sauger.Auch with 130 PS and also for this car that was too little. Nevertheless, I liked to drive her. The 900II was after a year of history ..
    Maybe a 900II is the better Vecta, the better ... whatever. Who wants from A to B and which is as problem-free as possible with a late 900i of the second generation certainly well served, as one can read well in a long-term contribution in the Saab forum well.
    If you want to feel your car - and that's why I only drive Saab for many years - it will not make you happy in the long term.
    But as I said, I have never driven a turbo ... So never say never ...


    • 15. February 2018 at 2: 03 PM

      The test drive you should have done once. For me, the first ride is branded with the same as with Tom.

  • 15. February 2018 at 10: 55 AM

    Thank you for your good contribution with good research - and the message to let a Saab be a Saab!

  • 15. February 2018 at 11: 01 AM

    The Eternal Chancellor would call the 902 an alternative, which he ultimately was. Otherwise the lights at Saab would probably have gone out decades ago. I also think he is a good car, I always enjoyed driving.

  • 15. February 2018 at 11: 59 AM

    It was a great car, I then swapped it for the early 93 and still drive it ... the best car I've ever had !!! Thanks for the great research ... Roland

  • 15. February 2018 at 12: 04 PM

    The 902 was fast even without Turbo 200km / h and had many practical details and a comprehensive basic equipment. I regret that our two (1994 / 1996) did not manage to stay with us! ... and the 902 looks even slimmer and grazier we the 9-3I. I think it was a very big and timeless design in the car world!

  • 15. February 2018 at 12: 31 PM

    We bought a 902 for my wife for Christmas. The most opligst possible: as v6. (Also this engine is far better than his reputation.)
    As an 1997 model year, the car is amazingly well made and looks much more valuable in the interior than I would have expected given the reputation of the 902. Yes, the plastic is not beautiful - the dashboard shows, for example, first stress cracks at the predetermined breaking point of the front passenger airbag. But there are no sticky soft touch elements such as the ignition of my 9 5 Ranzbimmel. Also the leather feels better than in the 9-5.
    The biggest disappointment in this car is the suspension. McPerson-Gelump and torsion beam axle - the combination is not good. Something you can possibly bring in cheap small car, but not the successor to the 901.
    Turning in is spongy and callous, and in more dangerous bends, the driver-vehicle unit does not deliver the original confidence that characterizes the 901. Not even in the beginning. The 902 drives like any cross-90er-year front-wheel drive of the lower middle class.
    Conclusion: the 902 looks like a SAAB, has the ergonomics and long-haul qualities of a SAAB, but does not drive like a SAAB (around curves). He is not a true successor of the 901 due to the chassis weaknesses, but he is by no means a bad car.
    In the meantime, I would even allow the car to be a real SAAB. Especially because of the interior. Only the 900 he should not have worn on the boot lid - the footsteps were too big.

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  • 15. February 2018 at 1: 09 PM

    Unfortunately, my 900 II was a "handle in the toilet". Fortunately, the only exception to 11 Saab altogether (so far). He rusted like an old Fiat and had with 131 PS (without turbo) a power development like an 50PS Golf. Fortunately, he was just the second car next to a wonderful red 9 3er (one of the first). He then much victim of the scrapping premium - technically and visually used up.

  • 15. February 2018 at 1: 11 PM

    Thanks for the emotional report that punishes alternative facts by the press.
    But as it always is: is repeated a lot (also wrong info), but something is hanging in the long term. This has made the 900-er disappear. After this article, probably clearly wrong, at least the repaired vehicles.
    This successor was a successful continuation of the classic "wing line" with then modern design. Keeping the huge transport volume !!! Perfectly improved!
    Yes, the 2.0 ltr. Turbo with 185 PS was already a great choice!
    Thanks also for the wonderful archive pictures. SAAB pure.

  • 15. February 2018 at 1: 15 PM

    An 900 II CV with FPT has brought me to 2014 to SAAB, someone for whom a car was a simple commodity ...

    • 15. February 2018 at 1: 15 PM

      too much ...

  • 15. February 2018 at 2: 38 PM

    A great trilogy, especially today's headline speaks from the heart!

    • 15. February 2018 at 5: 46 PM

      Thank you! The writing was also fun. I hope you felt that?

      • 15. February 2018 at 10: 24 PM

        Yes, you have that

  • 15. February 2018 at 5: 25 PM

    First of all, I would like to join my predecessors.
    Really top this trilogy!
    I just did not know at the end whether I should be happy now or sad.
    Extremely well written! THANK YOU!

    Another one. Are there differences between the handling of the 900 II and the following 9.3?
    I am now driving my second 9.3i and am actually very happy with the car.
    Of course, the new Saab are no longer as stiff as the 900er, but much more comfortable.
    The YS3D likes to twist is recently known. And the aforementioned lame drive can probably only be chronic turbo drivers who have forgotten that this car is just an i. Nevertheless, I am with this i faster away from the traffic light than an 1.4 TSi.
    Of course only if the Saab has gone warm.
    The question remains, different driving dynamics 900 || ~ 9.3 ???

    • 15. February 2018 at 5: 45 PM

      The statements on driving dynamics are all to be treated with caution. They often refer to vehicles that are 20 years and older. Often the suspension components are in a "good, used condition". Accordingly, the Saab rolls. And most users think that would have been so normal before 20 years ago. It was not ...
      As a new car, I found the 900 II better than the 901. A good compromise between dynamics and comfort. I found the 9-3 I even more successful, Saab had done a lot of fine work. My 9-3 I Aero has a revised chassis with new wishbones and bushings. He drives accordingly tight, in principle like a new car. Wishes remain barely open, there is criticism, except for the 9-3 I existing something "wooden" rolling, in my eyes not.

      • 15. February 2018 at 7: 00 PM

        That's exactly what my experiences are!
        Last autumn I had to replace all the front axle handlebars because the right wishbone was torn out of the socket. Were still the originals in it, from 98.
        With the new handlebars and new Stabis results in a completely new driving.
        Is a bit more expensive, but I can only recommend who wants to experience the right driving experience.

        • 15. February 2018 at 8: 21 PM

          Definitely! Unfortunately, investment in the landing gear is often neglected in rolling cultural heritage. They bring a lot.

          • 15. February 2018 at 8: 45 PM

            At the first and last leased Ingolstadt were bushings of the front axle due after about 2 years. My chrome glasses are now in the eleventh ...

            And yet, anyone who believes that a SAAB would have no wearing parts on the chassis, has probably not understood cars overall. Good or less quality or not ...

            And although it's called chassis, even aging in the state.

      • 16. February 2018 at 10: 33 AM

        It can be assumed that turboseize has its chassis in a state that comes close to the new car and he does not compare apples to pears.

        • 16. February 2018 at 11: 04 AM

          I had not referred to that either.

  • 15. February 2018 at 5: 50 PM

    the 3. Part of the saga is written even better and even more exciting than one and two ...

    Quote: "(...) fear bloom, the fruit before the sinking". Great! Already lyrically valuable, this completion of the 900 II trilogy. He also makes a fancy for the car abound. I only looked at 9000ern today. You can not buy them all, at least not all at the same time, right?

    The trilogy ends here. The 900 II is history, but a living one. Now I'm looking forward to this one:
    Quote: "But that's another story altogether."

    The biggest surprise for me would be if it was not worth reading.

    • 15. February 2018 at 10: 31 PM

      902 search is much more difficult than 9000, especially if it's supposed to be a turbo!

  • 16. February 2018 at 6: 50 AM

    Good morning ... Thanks Tom for the great reports ....
    I drove a 5ll 900i model 2.0 for 94 years, all my friends liked it
    Great car, not unlike my previous 900 Turbo 8V, it was much more modern and better to drive.
    Today I enjoy my 900ll SE Cabriolet 2.0t model 96 in Scarab green, the most beautiful way to drive 900II.
    I will continue to nurture and care for him ... ..

  • 16. February 2018 at 7: 48 AM

    Also a big thank you for this very well researched trilogy. A note to the Saapel charge to the Journaille: The first test in the AM / s of 902's 1994 Turbo Coupe was consistently positive, even euphoric for a non-German make in its rating, even the build quality was praised. Other magazines were also able to gain a lot from the 902. The mot wrote the Saab even between the lines to the secret test winner against MB C280 and BMW 328i! I could only find one negative article: the endurance test of the 902 in the am / s, but mainly about the subterranean reliability-rightly-pardoned. In my opinion, we - the customers - started with the bashing first - only then was this topic picked up by the journalists. The much later published used car reports on the 902 were then suddenly full of the topic ...

    • 16. February 2018 at 10: 18 AM

      That is interesting. But is that really true?
      What does "for a non-German brand", "secret test winner" or "between the lines" mean?

      Does that mean that you already have to be a friend of the brand and a healthy skepticism against the German motor journalism had to be able to interpret tests and reports synonymous?

      Well equipped, many SAAB tests could be interpreted positively!

      But how many readers were capable or even willing of this interpretive achievement? Was not the bottom line for the BMW, Mercedes and Audi drivers that the German vacuum cleaners were the best cars in their performance class?

      How much is a "secret test winner" worth? How many new customers does HEIMLICHKEIT generate?

      I remember a lot of tests and comparative tests of different SAABs. There was always something positive. It remained clear that (despite all the enthusiasm) the cars of the better advertisers would be the better ones ...

      Last seats for SAAB were reliable. What use was it, if "between the lines" something else stood, than with the points or in the conclusion?

      I once read a combination comparison test. An 9-5 (2,3t) competed against three 6 cylinders. It was said that he was well motorized, but could not keep up. As Aero, the 9-5 is a wild cop who wants to tug at the steering and grab the horns. The enthusiasm of the journalists was clear. At least through the SAAB glasses ...

      By another stood: 4-cylinder turbos with front-wheel drive are crap. Either they are limp or the influence on the steering large. Published test result: Last place.

      Secret test result: no idea!
      Maybe place 1, 2 or 3 of 4?

    • 16. February 2018 at 11: 01 AM

      PS II.

      And one more question, where did we get our information? In other words, can 902 bashing ever have come from the community?

      All my SAAB information comes from SAAB itself (advertising) or from the press. Only since a few years and the last bankruptcy mainly here from the blog. Who should have started 902 bashing when and because of what information or interests?

      That Saab wanted to disassemble himself here, or it could have come from the circle of drivers, seems to me rather unlikely ...

      The most plausible explanation to me is still the German motoring journalism, the Opel (although a national brand) has indeed treated like stepmotherly. If Opel is reliably located below VW, how else could one discredit a BMW or Mercedes competitor here in Germany more reliably than to put it on Opel level?

      That was pretty well done.

      • 16. February 2018 at 3: 02 PM

        It will not only be the press and the media. But also some Saab enthusiasts, who as they heard from the Opel platform, have immediately expressed pride and prejudice. Following the motto: No! I'm not driving an Opel Saab!
        You probably did not even want to take a closer look at the new 900. Those who did it certainly lacked the typical 900 driving characteristics. Others miss the design. And already the car is bad!
        In the end, these people in the 2000 then bought an 9.3 ll, with much more Opel technology.
        It is often very funny with the people.

        • 16. February 2018 at 3: 44 PM

          Maybe it was actually like this ...

          But who brought the Opel platform into the game and how? Why should SAAB have said, "Sorry, but from today everything is Opel ..."?

          Especially (that's what the trilogy is about), the modifications and self-constructions were obviously very comprehensive. So there was no reason for such a self-incrimination ...

          The SAAB clientele may have been sensitive and irrational. Maybe hypersensitive? But who informed you? And was that even valid information or alternative facts?

          I think that's where the sticking point lies.

  • 16. February 2018 at 9: 31 AM

    Thanks for the great article!
    I miss the dark blue 900 2.3i Jhg 97 that shaped my childhood.

  • 16. February 2018 at 4: 16 PM

    Thanks Tom for your contribution.
    Yes, yes, you love him or you have him. The 902. Unfortunately, it is difficult today to drive a crisp, strong turbo. Most of the 902 carelessly used as a day vehicle. A nurturing and nursing was rather rare.
    As a longtime driver of several 901 (4 Stk., All Turbos), I realized at the time the presentation of the new Saabs 1993 in Basel. I also had concerns, concerns and doubts. Even if I liked the vehicle in and of itself.
    In the year 2000 I first bought a `95er 902 LE Turbo Coupe (special version for the CH). With the car we were on honeymoon in Scandinavia with an average consumption of Legendary 6,5Lt. And that on 3500km. Despite Thule roof box.
    As a car mechanic, at that time it was said that alleged inadequacies on the car were improved by modifications. Thus brakes, exhaust (sound technical) engine performance and stability (chassis - Eibach 30mm) were improved. This was an extremely agile coupe with 210 PS.

    Today, in addition to my 9-5 Aero, I own a `97er 902 SE 2.0 Turbo Convertible with 230 PS. Also this car was first processed by Hirsch and further processed by me. Brakes, exhaust, optics and much more have been installed over the years. The car has been with me since 2002 and was used as a car by the end of 2011. From people who do not or only little know the brand, I always get compliments for the beautiful car.
    Now it is time for a major revision. With 240`000km now the clutch, engine control, water cooler and heating element will be replaced. There are also various hoses.
    Many think that I should throw away the cart and not invest money.
    Well, I think the car should continue to live. I'm hanging on to the car and want to continue driving it beyond the 21 years.

    My conclusion, the 900er II were underestimated. Which is why hardly any good cars are available and even then are hardly to sell. (Prejudice) That's a pity.


  • 17. February 2018 at 1: 07 PM

    Thanks for the great review. Be lucky enough to own 3 Saabs and drive any one of them daily. An 901 coupe soft turbo, 9000CSE and yes, even the most unspeakable of all Saabs, an 902 convertible. With V6 engine and Automatik.Da to even BJ 1994 ...... And I like, care and drive him with the same care and passion that I send to the other two cars. Even the sight of the great shape - in the well-groomed Rubirot- conjures me a smile in the face. The beautifully and ergonomically designed fittings that still deserve the name. The ultra-comfortable, beige leather seats, from which even after 10 hours without backbites gets out. After a pleasurable drive. Accompanied by the sonorous bubbling of the V6 ... ..
    After checkbook maintained 300.000 KM, a - voluntary profilaktischen - engine and gearbox replacement, repainting after a hail, new top and various annoyances with rubber, plastic and electronic hardware, he is now there we are an annual car. And I assure you, like the other two, I'll keep it that way for the next few decades. Was he simply beautiful, reliable, unique and unjust, even by Saabists, degraded to something he never was. I'm happy to have understood him. Without comparing it with the 901 ....

  • 17. February 2018 at 8: 20 PM

    Thanks for the great review!

    I also drove a Saab 902 BJ 94, even if only briefly ..
    He was basically "down gnawed" and I had to then separate from him.
    Unfortunately, had no way to drive him longer.
    Previously, I drove a 900i over 8 years and was really happy with the great car. About this car you can philosophise for hours and the bottom line is a really great car.

    Now I am so lucky that I am allowed to call my red convertible S Turbo Bj 91, which is currently in hibernation.
    This is joined by an 93 Bj 2001 in black SE, which I use as Daylidriver or my wife.
    And in Janur this year came one more, a Saab 93 Aero XWD Bj. 2008.
    All great cars, each something special.

    Greetings Jochi

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