Saab 900NG saga. Never call me Opel.

The schedule was tight, but Saab met the deadlines, more or less. The last part of the Saab 900 NG saga begins. In 1993 the 900 II was ready for delivery and it had become a real Saab. The design quotes the predecessor and it introduces many innovations.

The ingenious night panel, then known as the black panel, is one of them. A newly developed carrier, which accommodates the headrests and belts, reliably protects passengers on the rear seat bench.

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

A Saab idea, implemented by Autoliv, which also improves the rigidity of the body. The Safeseat Concept is another milestone. It prevents passengers from diving under their seat belts during an accident. The famous Saab Trionic has now also moved into the middle class. When it comes to ergonomics, safety and environmental friendliness, the new one 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 NG saga and the alternative facts

Nevertheless, dark clouds are gathering. It takes revenge that an almost finished project was transformed onto a foreign platform under time pressure. Two worlds, two philosophies, that couldn't go well! Quality and manufacturing problems are increasing, which is also due to the increased clock rate in the Saab factory. The production time that has been reduced from 110 for the 900 I to 40 hours for the 900 II is perhaps too ambitious. Saab sets up a task force, pulls developers away from other projects. Improves under pressure. As production progresses, the 900 II gets better from year to year.

At the same time, the press is firing on the new Saab. Constructs an Opel family that does not even exist to this extent. There is hardly any Opel under the sheet metal. Except for the V6, the famous engines all come from Saab. The manual transmissions from Saab, the automatic from Aisin. Opel buys Saab transmissions on a large scale, which are more robust than their own designs, and installs them in their own vehicles. The press doesn't write about it.

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 a potent poison. To this day, the 900 NG has not gotten rid of the unjustified Opel image of the 80s.

Saab 900 II Coupe and Sedan
Saab 900 II Coupe and Sedan. Image: Saab Automobile AB

1993, beyond Sweden

I've been driving Saab since 1992. A 900 S Sport. A black coupe with a sunroof, leather, air conditioning and everything you could want. I am very satisfied, but my Saab dealer no longer exists. Saab Germany is temporarily taking over the dealership, and while my 900 is being inspected, 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 NG. I liked the car from the first moment, but I didn't buy one. Why? That said inspection ended in disaster for Saab. An unpleasant correspondence followed and in the end the agreement was only reached under pressure from a lawyer. All of this could have been avoided if the obvious had been accepted.

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

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

Saab 900 NG Saga - Epilogue

The 900 NG saved Saab from sinking. As Project 102, it brought the rescue without which GM would not have entered Trollhättan. Its design is typical of a Saab, as is its interior, the powerful engines, the clever innovations. Actually everything, except for the floor pan. On a sober level, it was a completely impossible choice, just as the relationship with the Americans was out of the question from the start. But there were no alternatives. Without GM, and without the basis of the Opel Vectra platform, the Saab saga would have ended in 1990 or 91.

The 900 NG is a car with a tragic history. The madness of marrying a well-advanced project to an unfamiliar underbody has cost Saab a great deal of money and reputation. It would probably have been cheaper to start over in 1990 with a blank sheet of paper. But looking back is always smarter.

Also, almost everything Saab did from 1990 onwards was madness. A company that launched just 1947 new cars between 1990 and 3 was in top form. In the plant world this is called the “fear flower”, the fear of destruction. Parallel to the 900 II, the second 9000 generation was launched, and development for the first luxury class Saab began - without major investments and without hiring more employees. The upper-class Saab never existed, because ultimately there was a lack of courage. 900 II and 9000 II turned out to be fabulous cars, hats off to that 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 unfortunately the opposite is the case. The alternative facts of the motor press, which for various reasons did not want to deal with the true history of its origins, still have 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 consumed. But seldom loved.

34 thoughts on "Saab 900NG saga. Never call me Opel."

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    Thanks for the great review!

    I also drove a Saab 902 BJ 94, even if only briefly ..
    He was basically "noodled" and then I had to part with 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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    Thanks for the great review. I am very lucky to own 3 Saabs and drive any one of them daily. A 901 Coupé soft turbo, 9000CSE and yes, also the most unspeakable of all Saabs, a 902 convertible. With V6 engine and automatic. Also built in 1994 ...... And I like, care for and drive it with the same care and passion that I give to the other two cars. Just the sight of the great shape - in the neat, shiny ruby ​​red - puts a smile on my face. The beautiful and ergonomically designed fittings that still deserve the name. The ultra-comfortable, beige leather seats, from which you can get out after 10 hours without back pain. After an enjoyable journey. Accompanied by the sonorous bubbling of the V6 ... ..
    After 300.000 km of checkbook maintenance, a - voluntary, profile-specific - engine and gearbox exchange, repainting after a hail, a new top and various annoyances with small rubber, plastic and electronic parts, it is now a year-old car. And I assure you, I will - like the other two - take care of him for the next few decades. Was he simply beautiful, reliable, unique and wrongly, even by Saabists, was degraded to something he never was. I am happy to have understood him. Without comparing it with the 901….

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    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, back then it was still called that, alleged inadequacies in the car were improved through modifications. Brakes, exhaust (sound technology), engine performance and stability (chassis - Eibach 30mm) have been improved. The result was an extremely agile coupe with 210 hp.

    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.


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

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    Also from me a big thank you for this very well researched trilogy. A note on Saapel's accusation to the Journaille: The first test in the am / s of the 902 Turbo Coupe from 1994 was consistently positive, and for a non-German brand it was even euphoric in its assessment, even the processing quality was praised. Other magazines also got a lot of positive outcomes from the 902. The mot even wrote the Saab between the lines about 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, which was mainly indignant about the underground reliability - and rightly so. In my opinion, we - the customers - started bashing first - only then was this topic taken up by the journalists. The used car reports about the 902, which appeared much later, were suddenly full of the topic ...

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      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?

      So how much is a “secret test winner” worth? How many new customers does SECRETITY generate?

      I remember quite a few tests and comparative tests of different SAABs. It always said something positive. But it remained unmistakable that (despite all the enthusiasm) the cars of the better advertisers would be the better ...

      There were reliably last places for SAAB. What use was it if something else was written “between the lines” than in the points or in the conclusion?

      I once read a combo comparison test. A 9-5 (2,3t) competed against three 6-cylinder units. It was said that it was well motorized, but could not keep up. As an aero, however, the 9-5 is a wild bull that tugs at the steering and wants to be grabbed by the horns. The journalists' enthusiasm was evident. 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?

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      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 dismantle itself here, or that it could have come from the circle of drivers, seems rather unlikely to me ...

      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.

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        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.

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          Maybe it was actually like that ...

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

          Especially since (that's what the trilogy is about) the modifications and in-house constructions were obviously very extensive. So there was no reason for such a self-infliction ...

          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.

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    Good morning… ..thank you 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 cherish and care for this ...

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    the third part of the saga is even better written and even more exciting than one and two ...

    Quote: “(...) fear bloom, the fruit of destruction”. Great! This conclusion to the 900 II trilogy is lyrically valuable in itself. To top it all off, it also makes you want to drive. I only looked after 9000s today. You can't buy them all, at least you can't own them all at the same time, can you?

    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 a completely different story."

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

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

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    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 ???

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      The statements on driving dynamics must all be viewed with caution. They often refer to vehicles that are 20 years or older. The chassis components are often in “good, used condition”. The Saab rolls accordingly. And most users think that would have been so normal 20 years ago. But it wasn't ...
      As a new car, I found the 900 II better than the 901. A good compromise between dynamism and comfort. I found the 9-3 I tuned a bit more successfully, Saab had done a lot of fine work. My 9-3 I Aero has a revised chassis with new wishbones and bushings. It drives accordingly tight, in principle like a new car. Desires are hardly left unanswered, there is no criticism, apart from the somewhat “wooden” rolling that is also present in the 9-3 I, in my opinion.

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        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.

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

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            With the first and last leased Ingolstadt, the front axle bushings were due after approx. 2 years. My chrome glasses are now in the eleventh ...

            And yet, anyone who believes that a SAAB has no wearing parts on the chassis has probably not understood cars as a whole. Good or poor quality or not ...

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

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        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.

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          I had not referred to that either.

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

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

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        Yes, you have that

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

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      one too much ...

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    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 "grand piano line" with a modern design at the time. While maintaining 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.

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    My 900 II was unfortunately a "go in the toilet". Fortunately the only exception with a total of 11 Saab (so far). It rusted like an old Fiat and, with 131 hp (without turbo), it developed like a 50 hp Golf. Fortunately, it was just the second car next to a wonderful red 9-3 (one of the first). He then fell victim to the scrapping premium - technically and visually used up.

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    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 a 1997 model year, the car is surprisingly 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, for example, shows the first stress cracks at the predetermined breaking point of the passenger airbag. But there are no sticky soft-touch elements like for example around the ignition lock of my 9-5 satchel. The leather also feels better than in the 9-5.
    The biggest disappointment in this car is the chassis. McPerson-Gelump and twist beam suspension - the combination is not good. Something like that can perhaps be achieved with cheap small cars, but not with 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. Mainly because of the interior. Only he shouldn't have worn the 900 on the trunk lid - the footsteps were too big.

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    the 902 was 200 km / h fast even without turbo and had many practical details and extensive basic equipment. I regret that none of our two (1994/1996) managed to stay with us! ... and the 902 looks even slimmer and more graceful than the 9-3I. I think it was a very big and timeless design in the car world!

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

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    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.

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

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    Yes, the 900II was probably a good car indeed. But unfortunately also a boring one ... At least in 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. Anyone who wants to get from A to B and that is as problem-free as possible is certainly well served by a late 900i of the second generation, as you can read in a long-term post in the Saab forum.
    Anyone who wants to feel their car - and that's why I've only been driving Saab for many years - will probably not be happy in the long term.
    But as I said, I've never driven a turbo ... so never say never ...


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

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