Interested in a project? Here would be a Saab with history!

Is Corona changing your life too? Would you like to devote your free time to doing things that you always wanted to do but always put off? Defy your own transience and restore a car with a history? Then here is a project for you! A Saab from the pre-series, which fortunately can also come up with a prominent first owner. There is only one catch. You need a lot of time and patience.

Saab pre-series from 1989
A test vehicle - Saab pre-series from 1989

Is a 911 too common for you, a VW Beetle is impossible, and the Mercedes W123 is already on every corner? Then this Swede would be the right project. Individuality, a story for the next classic meeting, and lots of adventure guaranteed. In Poland, a Saab 9000 Sport is offered, which is said to come from the pre-series from 1989. With the 1990 model year, the marketing department of the Saab Autodivision wanted to sharpen the sporty image of the 9000 and launch a version in the style of the legendary Talladega Long Run. 10 vehicles were built in advance, all in red with a sunroof and a striking rear spoiler. After the end of the test phase, 8 copies went to private owners. Mostly employees and one of them was Rolf Sarsten.

Rolf Sarsten's Saab

Sarsten was one of the two directors of the Saab 9000 project. Today, humorous stories are still told of him, like that of the award ceremony for a magazine for the choice of the car in 1984. Before Audi, the Audi representative thanked the 2.500 development engineers for the honor they had shown. Sarsten joyfully took up this template. On behalf of all 300 engineers who made the Saab 9000 possible, he thanked for the choice. Small against big, attacker against top dog. So was the time when a small brand with good ideas could still put ingenious products on the wheels and surprised the established ones.

Around 9000 copies of the Saab 1990 Sport were sold under different names in 1.500. It was not only available in red, white and blue specimens also rolled off the tapes. Most of it went to England and Germany. Few should still exist today.

A real rarity is the 9000 Sport, which is attributed to Rolf Sarsten. The story of a prototype is believable, the car has appeared in various forums in recent years. Images from earlier, better days can be found in a Swedish Saab forum, the mileage of 340.000 seems credible. After the Saab automotive department, Rolf Sarsten became the owner, he sold it to his brother, who also worked at Saab, and later bought it back.

A pre-series vehicle is rare

With the year 2013 the trail gets lost in the Forums, then a few months ago the Saab appeared in Poland. It doesn't seem like a kilometer has been added in 7 years, probably because it is a project for a comprehensive restoration. Rust is likely to be the biggest problem after many small defects and signs of wear and tear that have accumulated. But the result is a car with a unique history and still attractive performance today.

Interested in a project? You have to know that there is nothing left for these vehicles on Swedish shelves. Nobody has the Ur-9000 on their radar anymore, it only helps a good contact to the committed club scene and the passage through Swedish parts markets in the post-Corona period. The 9000 is not a car that is particularly difficult to restore. In contrast to the 900, it is simply constructed; a vehicle that a robot could weld. Nevertheless, it has its specific idiosyncrasies, especially in the field of turbo technology. A deep friendship with a Saab workshop that is familiar with the 9000 is definitely an advantage.

The entry with less than 2.000,00 € is small for a piece of history and a pre-series vehicle. Some research is still part of the process, there are open questions. But time is well spent. The 9000 Sport is a special vehicle. You won't find that on every street corner.

6 thoughts on "Interested in a project? Here would be a Saab with history!"

  • Another hint how this official 9000-Sport version came about at the time:

    Saab offered plenty of special accessories, be it tuning performance enhancements as well as sport fairings, i.e. airflow kits, but at that time had no direct sporty version on offer for the then current pioneer 9000, except for the smaller brother 900 tu-16s (depending on the market not yet officially called Aero), the body of which was unfortunately partly outdated at that time, so it was no longer expandable and certainly did not represent a future horse of the future in the stable; and logically also the well-known tuners Hirsch (in cooperation with Heuschmid), which were partly in competition at the time, for additional sportier engine power, although there was already a certain amount of cooperation between these parties.

    The 9000 sport was set up before the GM era and was therefore the most powerful Saab engine that was presented in-house. The 9000-Sport with oblique schnauzer presented as a model year, which was logically taken over from the CD, was a belated own Saab change that could just be presented on this 9000-Sport in 1989, as its front base structure was already intended for it ; if not earlier from 1987 at the same time as the 900 facelift change and 9000CD introduction, but internal matters had unfortunately prevented this from happening in time. At that time, Saab still took it “comfortably” and with organizational logic (for outsiders probably rather complicated for the time being), which changed gradually shortly afterwards with the participation of GM.

    In order to achieve future sales improvements, the “Combi-Coupé” body was modernized from this to the CS variant and the 2.3i vacuum cleaner with Saab-known turbo technology was initially presented with a lot of future-oriented technology for the “Ecosport prototype” which shortly afterwards led to the introduction of the definitely recognized model name 9000-Aero.

  • Because it was not directly a prototype, but a test vehicle, of which several were in circulation, that it was later intended for normal series production. Coincidence wants this sport model to be extremely rare today, as it was only offered for 1 year and also contained some mechanical and equipment innovations for the future models type Aero; the 10 test vehicles mentioned were probably even slightly more powerful than series production. It would also be interesting to find out whether they were already provided with cat. Or not, because the global retrofitting phase began during those years, and only on this model there were some striking technical differences in performance, which at that time were the first most powerful in the Saab plant Series motorization still without Kat. But already exceeded the 200PS hurdle.

    This procedure, that test vehicles were sold after the trial phase, was common in the Saab factory, because you had to somehow get an additional income even then, even if it was only part of the new value, because the test phases were time-consuming and cost-intensive! It was a similar procedure as with demonstration vehicles via the importers, who already came to the first owner with X-thousand km at a reduced price. In the Saab scene, some such “special vehicles” can be admired at meetings. Since production ran from Monday morning to Friday noon, the engineers had the given time every Friday afternoon for special projects. Most of them ended up in the appropriate sales channels, so they somehow ended up in circulation, but some exceptions had to be scrapped again for reasons of secret! So you can calculate for yourself how many such similar special vehicles are in circulation! See other reports from Tom like the recent pre-production 99TU and more.

    In any case, compliments to Tom and team, keep it up, you still keep our Saab brand with your interesting reports alive and well remembered.


  • This is my car 🙂. I will be happy to tell you everything and send more photos. Email or website:

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    An exciting object. I just wonder why the Swedes don't keep a car with so much history in their country, because that's where it belongs. I could get seriously weak ...

  • blank

    That could be a very nice project….
    If someone is interested and there are communication problems, please ask me for contact details via Tom…. Polish is my mother tongue.

    Greetings to the community

    The Lizi


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