Corona changes just about everything. Readers have more time these days looking forward to positive reports or just a little distraction to read. Stefan used the time, writes about the Saab 902, which he calls "Knuts", and his story. It begins with the purchase by previous owner Roland in 2011.
Roland took over the black SAAB 902 in April 2011. In the hall of a used car dealer in the far corner he stood: A black SAAB 902 automatic, built in '97 with 131 hp. The speedometer's orange odometer shone with the number 130.218. The previous owner was a doctor's wife.
The old SAAB had been there for 1 year and was pretty dusty. The dealer said that nobody was interested in it, although his business was obviously well attended. He would find it a shame because the SAAB would be better than its reputation.
The black Saab is a deeply unspectacular car. Accountant equipment, automatic, 131 hp - which can only be guessed at if you accelerate over 4000 revolutions. No car that arouses desire, at least not at first glance.
Roland presented the car in a car workshop where a man who previously worked for a SAAB agency worked. In the office, people reacted very unsettled when Roland said that the car should be checked in everything and made fit for the next 100.000 km and that money didn't matter. That was done after some back and forth and Roland started his 100.000 km endurance test with a 15 year old car across Europe.
In March 2012 in the Swiss Alps near Bellinzona the time had come: after 10 months and 100.000 km the test ended. These 10 months turned out to be so unproblematic that Roland extended the test by another 100.000 thousand kilometers and another 100.000 thousand kilometers etc.
By the way, all the extensive details of this trip can be found in the Saab Cars Forum under “Long-term test SAAB 902”. At 556.500 km Roland unfortunately had to give up the “black”. I find it astonishing that in addition to the engine and automatic transmission, things like the wiper motor and linkage, steering, ignition coil, radiator, windshield, air conditioning compressor, brake booster are still original.
I found out about it in the forum, also because I had been following the 902's journey with great interest for years. And I know that many buying decisions for a 902 are based on this thread. The decisions quickly matured for me that this car had to be spared the fate of Africa, cannibalizing or lovelessly ending. So I bought it in August 2019 to get it, but also to keep driving it. Because I think such a car should be driven and I am also very interested in how many kilometers the SAAB still manages with the first engine and the first transmission. With the decision to buy it was also clear that the old construction got everything it needed to stay on the road. I gave him a 3rd life.
And how does a SAAB drive with over 500.000 thousand kilometers?
The body gives you the feeling of being in good hands. Anyway, my 902 has not rattled so far and doors and hoods are also tight and stable. The typical Swedish exhaust sound (also with the ovloVs) is fun. The quiet engine and the good automatic system together with the very good seating comfort make it a pleasant long-distance car.
Usually the cars don't have names for me, but I made an exception for this car as well. Based on Roland's Thead, the black 902 is now called “Knuts”. Which can also be seen clearly at the rear.
And how did our trip continue from August 2019? In November 2019 “Knuts” got a new TÜV. To do this, the catalytic converter and the lambda sensor had to be replaced. Then in December a much more serious problem. Complete rusting in the rear left wheel arch.
The first estimate of a body builder € 1.300, - Puuuuuuhhh… ..
Hopefully that should be cheaper. The original body panel for the wheel house costs approx. € 600. Then the cheaper saving idea. A body panel from the Opel Vectra A could fit. And it fits! And it costs € 79, -. After installation, Knuts drives better than ever. Quiet, stubborn straight-ahead running, confident road holding - a new driving experience!
And yes, this old 902 with automatic and “only” 131 HP (minus many HP less, for heavily loaded and with the air on) really got me. I am looking forward to every working day on which I am allowed to drive “Knuts”, I am very disappointed when it must be the diesel and I catch myself planning tours so that they allow me to drive with “Knuts” ……
After moving through the traffic with such calmness and serenity, the thought occurred to me that “Knuts” could be used as a therapy car for stressed diesel-left, pure-pushy drivers, I think that there is a gap in the market …….
Incidentally, I am also very proud that when you enter “SAAB 902” in the Google search, my car appears first. What would many companies give for this privilege?
Text and images: Stefan Mühlbauer