Market check. Swedish cult Saab 900.

Just as the 911 has shaped the Porsche brand, the 900 is responsible for the Swedish cult. He is considered one of the most interesting and unusual vehicles from the Göta Älv. If the Saab 900 still lives up to its reputation as an icon today, how much does it cost, and what should you look for?

Swedish Cult Saab 900 Turbo 16 S
Swedish Cult Saab 900 Turbo 16 S

His fans consider it one of the best cars ever. Still suitable for everyday use today and the ultimate long-term car. It polarizes with its shape, and either you love it ardently and dearly. Or you can't stand him.

Objectively speaking, the 900, which was produced from 1978 to 1994, is a small, uncomfortable car. Even during its construction, it was largely out of date, caused Saab to suffer high losses, and production stopped several times due to a lack of demand. But even during his lifetime he was cult with his fans. Because, like a Defender or an air-cooled 911, it was considered one of the last, real men's cars.

And, honestly, who cares about objectivity when you can drive a 900 Turbo? Yes, the gearbox is an unreasonable demand, the switching distances are long, but to hell with it! The road holding is fantastic, the turbo sound pierces through the ear canals, and every meter driven is pure experience. You don't need a “driving experience switch” for a Saab 900. At the mere thought of it, his designers would not have calmed down with laughter. Opening the sunroof or the rear opening window is sufficient. The 900 delivers an experience for all the senses.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Saab 900

On the credit side are engines with and without turbo, the characterful and with good care are durable. High mileages are the rule, you do not have to shy away from them. The seats, a construction of the own seat workshop, are among the best that one could buy at that time. If they are covered with leather, then it is thick and high quality. Likewise, the fabrics that were available in different qualities and designs. In the interior, the sky likes to hang, the removal of which is easy on vehicles with tailgate. The dashboards often crack, the lid of the glove box throws bubbles. There is no replacement, crack-free dashboards are highly traded.

With the large tailgate, the 900 offers an unimaginable variability that makes some modern combo look old. The loading area is flat, with folded rear seat becomes from the Coupe or the 5-Türer a Großraumtransporter.

The technology itself is manageable and with appropriate care very robust. The turbo engines are legendary, they are considered stable, but like all cars of this era, they want to be kept warm and cold. The suckers, however, are good, not spectacular, but faithful companions, the one to Tierra del Fuego and bring back.

Also thick Swedish steel rusts

The body is made of really thick Swedish steel. Which is good and bad at the same time. Because even Sweden steel rests cheerfully. There is hardly any 900 today that has not been welded at various points. Responsible for this is to one, by today's standards, lack of rust prevention, on the other hand, the massive steel itself. I still remember a conversation in the workshop, which had the beginning of rust on my 900S on the subject. He was well over 15 years back then, the master of my trust advised to wait.

With the thick steel it would take forever to rust through, he said. Eternities are relative, as I know today. A few years later the full program was on. The 900 is not a bad roster, like other vehicles of its time. But if it does, the rust tends to hit the axle shaft tunnels, the wheel arches, the inner door edges, the hood or the tailgate. It is worth taking a closer look when buying. Due to its construction, the 900 is a historical evolution of the Saab 99, sheet metal work is demanding and expensive.

The entry into the avant-garde of Göta Älv

A Saab 900 was something special. And since good taste is often a bit more expensive, it was expensive to park a Saab in front of the house. For a turbo, you could transfer DM 60 or 70.000 to the Saab dealer's account, and a little more for a convertible. The clientele didn't care. At that time, Saab mainly bought designers, architects, doctors, freelancers and scientists. While the competitors had to use the prose of their marketing departments to find a suitable customer base, the longed-for target group was everyday life at Saab.

The fact that an 900 was not cheap, Sweden's emphasis on quality and longevity, is still noticeable today. The selection of classics from Trollhättan is surprisingly good, especially considering that Saab was always a niche brand.

Prices have been rising steadily for years, and the trend has been flattening recently. The entry is still inexpensive possible. With a little luck you get from 5.000,00 € up an 900 with expandable substance. Among them are usually noted vehicles with significant investment backlog, whose purchase will be considered. High-quality, well-maintained Saab 900 Turbo note around the 20.000 €, convertibles are slightly above.

The prices depend on the engine, body shape and transmission. Models from 1986 are more popular than the steep schnauzers before the facelift. The Turbo 16S, which, as a top engine with 160 HP, enables performance similar to a sports car, is particularly popular. With the tuning kits available from the factory, this turned out to be 180 hp or more, these kits are hard to find today. The soft turbo versions with 141 hp are slightly cheaper than the full turbo, but they are no less attractive. If you like, you can convert it to a full turbo with a longer gear ratio, but this is not absolutely necessary. Under the turbo engines note the suckers, which take it easy and represent the cheapest way to enjoy the Swedish cult from Trollhättan.

Automatic or manual circuit?

The most expensive are the convertibles, followed in second place by the coupes and the 5-door hatchbacks. The 900 sedan with stepped notchback was beaten for years. However, these vehicles are now so rare that there are hardly any differences to the other body shapes. It's worth taking a look at the gearbox. Saab delivered a 900-speed automatic with the 3, which is punished with price discounts. It is suitable for relaxed gliding and consistently slows down any sporting ambition. That is why fans prefer to use the manual transmission, which has long shift travel and is not particularly precise to shift. With the powerful turbo engines, it reaches its limits; If corridors jump out, an overhaul is necessary.

The 900 is still suitable for everyday life, if you can live with a relatively narrow interior and limited comfort. The charm of the 900 makes up for everything, and once you've succumbed to the Saab, all reasonable arguments come too late.

Spare parts supply

The supply of spare parts is not without problems for a vehicle whose production ended over 25 years ago. While holding the Orio AB still many parts in stock for the operation. But the gaps in the spare parts supply are there, and the love of the classic has still not been discovered in Nyköping.

After all, the gaps are repeatedly filled with post-production from external providers. However, their quality is not always blameless. What also helps is a good connection with the Saab scene and the workshops that specialize in classic Göta Älv. Because that's how you get, often surprisingly, original parts that have been stored in some halls for decades. Membership in Swedish is highly recommended Saab Clubwho stimulates post-production and stands by its members with help and advice.

The 900 is a timeless car that fascinates and whose history is not over yet. Because the fan-circle is well mixed in age. Young people can still get in cheaply, prices are not astronomical. So you do not have to worry about the future of the classic Götaland Canal. The Swedish cult with the Saab 900 continues.

9 thoughts on "Market check. Swedish cult Saab 900."

  • What was left out and because I soon see again on the Saab Session Slovakia, fits in the trunk of a 900 a whole camper body called Toppola

  • @Ebasil,

    the trunk has to be seen against the historical background of 1978.

    A station wagon with the same loading area with a longer roof and more or less vertical tailgate offers even more volume - for example for a fridge-freezer that a 900 fails on due to its elegant sloping rear ...

    At that time hardly any manufacturer, buyer or even motor journalist thought. Also, the fridge-freezer was still rather uncommon.

    The Volvo coupons, which had been available for a long time, were more or less tractors in terms of appearance and driving characteristics, had the social status of a too small commercial vehicle and delivery van. The station wagon was even so frowned upon that MB
    his first T-model also introduced 1978. Until then, the trunk of each ever produced Benz were ridiculously small and barely able to record even a cool box. Or the luggage of all passengers, if a family wanted to take a taxi to the train station or airport. MB has addressed 1978 with the T-model probably above all the guild of taxi drivers and their needs.

    An elegant and sporty coupe for a private motorist, which 1978 either a refrigerator or a freezer or could be unladen sporty on the move, was definitely given the background and in this environment a novelty.

    Speaking of athletic, when a friend of my father proudly opened the tailgate to his 900, 2 bikes were inside without anything (such as a front wheel) would have been dismantled. SUV means Sports Utility Vehicle - so the sporting activities of the car owner useful. From this point of view, even the small and elegant 900 was a real SUV.

    To cut a long story short: the trunk of the 900 is sometimes smaller or larger than that of other cars, depending on the reference point. What is decisive (and fascinating) is that the 900 as a total package was completely unrivaled at its time. When the tailgate opened and two bicycles came to light, Father & Son made a CLICK. At that moment, SAAB had each sold a 9000 (EZ '93) and a 9-3I (EZ '98), which had not yet been built and each replaced a less elegant “utility vehicle” from Gothenburg.

  • In the 90s, my husband and I had a black 900 convertible with dark leather seats, a wooden steering wheel and a wooden gear knob. We loved this car soooooooooooo much - probably the most beautiful vehicle we have ever owned. Taubenberger in Bad Tölz has one in red, which costs only about € 12.000. That's pretty cheap, isn't it?

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  • Thank you for this great post, Tom! I can confirm the lines up to the last point and comma! My entry to Saab was the purchase of a 900 turbo 16 S with 161 hp in 1994. Back then as a 5-year-old used car with 70000 km bought, then repainted in 2003 in the original color, it currently has “only” 299000 km on the odometer. The fabric interior is still tip-top, except for the (meanwhile 2nd) sky, which is not full of violins but full of pins!
    Many other Saab have come and gone, the 900 is still in my possession. The Swedish steel has bravely withstood the rust for a long time, but my plumber had to lend a hand over and over again in recent years and weld new sheet metal at the weak points listed. Finally, the axle shaft tunnels had to be renewed. At the same time a “thorough” engine overhaul was carried out. Has just retracted again and drives fantastic! I love the unmistakable bubbling sound! My 900 will bring me joy for many years to come!

  • For several years I drove the special model Saab 900 Turbo Commander, which was probably made only for Switzerland. The 900er had a splendid, bubbling exhaust sound. With his 155 PS he was on the way quickly.
    The Commander was an 2-door sedan, so with the sedan rear. Looked very idiosyncratic, but was a great car! And inside with bird's eye maple dashboard. Very noble!

  • Thank you for this elegantly written post. In my garage there is a 900 series vacuum cleaner as a coupé from 1991. It was bought by my father and driven for many years until his health was no longer able to move the vehicle. After a 2-year downtime, we had it checked a few years ago, since then the headliner has been reupholstered, the lower edges of the door had to be replaced - the usual problems. Since the car was always allowed to spend its rest periods in a garage, we can look forward to a crack-free dashboard (with an almost bubble-free glove compartment lid).
    I like to use the 900 for longer motorway journeys, preferably in dry weather. It is true that the motorization is not lavish and the gears are noticeable again and again through its gnarledness - but as Goethe once said: “What is not original is not important, and what is original always carries the individual's ailments. ” That translates well to the 900.
    Incidentally, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote soon after the bankruptcy of Saab, the 900 is perhaps the most beautiful car that has ever been built. I agree.

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  • Thank you for the article! Personally, I find the 900er coupe more interesting than the convertible. Although I'm a fan of convertibles.

  • Great, very interesting article! I never thought that a hatchback body could make a combo in terms of place competition. Maybe yes but regarding the height of the mitnehmbaren load? There should be logical limits. Taking the subtext of the one photo, I would like to ask a question: is there perhaps a photo of this miracle in the trunk? I have never been able to touch an 900er personally. But on my next visit to Kiel, I'll think about it!

    Too bad and for me (as well as many Saab fans) is incomprehensible that the 9-3 II was then in a closed form only as a sedan, a body shape that I (my personal taste) could never win something, neither in optical nor in practical terms. Maybe things would have been different if it had been instead convertible, coupe and station wagon from the beginning? If you look at today's big coupes such as BMW and Audi, you see how avant-garde Saab was decades earlier (unique feature!) And where you could have stood today.

    Regarding the convertible: white is (next to brown and green, unless something unusual, like the eucalyptus green recently) the color in which I would never buy a car. Just not my taste! BUT the first convertible in cream white with a black top and wonderful burgundy leather is, in my opinion, THE combination par excellence! Unbeatable! Do you know whether there are still “living” specimens? And why was this gorgeous color combination never seen again in all of the later, very successful convertible series? (Or is it ??)

  • Very difficult …

    ... to find a personal key phrase today. The article is again well written and full of such sentences.

    For me, a look in the trunk with rear seat was actually a key experience. Who would have hoped for such a seemingly compact and sporty vehicle to have this seemingly endless capacity?

    At that time station wagons were still frowned upon and the reference point was more of a sedan. Not a single one could have even come close to rivaling a 900 Turbo Coupe on this point ...

    There comes a small and compact powerhouse from Trollhättan, makes one or the other sports cars competition, and at the same time in terms of cargo space and the fattest of all sedans in the shade. For me, this makes the 900 the first or even the only egg-laying wool milkmilk that has ever been produced in automotive history.

    My personal key sentence from the current article is also this one here:
    "With the large tailgate, the 900 offers unimagined variability that makes some modern station wagons look old."

    Of course not everything is said about the 900, but it is an impressive reference to its genius and its timeliness, if one dares to continue to demand such a treasure utility and practicality continue. A really big litter, a really great car! ! !

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