Guide Price: £6000 - £9000
∙A fun and appreciating Swedish classic
∙A mechanically sound car with lots of recent attention
∙Top spec 5 speed model with plenty of rare options
Hitting the UK shores in 1979, the Saab 900 had some strong European competition in the executive market. Despite this, the Swedish car was an instant hit, offering something totally novel to the market – a turbo charged variant. The use of turbochargers on road cars at this time was in its infancy and the 900 Turbo, producing around 143bhp from its 2.0 litre four-cylinder was considered by many, to be responsible for popularising the forced induction trend.
Really, only high-performance cars, or rally homologation specials at the time were turbo charged – this front wheel drive Saab 900 Turbo then, was a hot hatch before hot hatches were cool. Saab’s engineer, Dr Per Gillbrand, came out with this now famous quote upon launching the Turbo: “All engines have an oil pump, a fuel pump and a water pump – so why not an air pump? That’s all a turbo really is. I think it’s odd that all engines don’t have one.” – Simple, when you put it like that.
This car is one of the rarer flat-fronted models and features many options including a full-pressure turbo, retractable sunroof and ‘Advanced Performance Control’ system. The car presents honestly, with 133k miles on the clock and fresh from a recent full service.
The current owner purchased the car in January of this year, intent on having a fun, slightly unusual car to enjoy getting under the bonnet, as much as behind the wheel of. With a quick change in circumstances and new city living arrangements, keeping a classic car like this is, sadly not going to be possible.
A small folder of well-documented paperwork accompanies the car, including some invoices for parts including four new tyres in 2016 and a handful of previous MOT passes.
The car’s MOT expires this month and, with a clean pass less than 12 months ago, the seller sees no reason it wouldn’t do the same again this time around. The V5 document is present along with the original owner’s manual for the car.
Unfortunately the service book has been lost along the way with the car but the new owner has begun the process of rebuilding this with a recent complete service.
The original registration number of A274 KFL has been replaced with a private plate which comes with the car.
Pop your head into the cabin space and this car genuinely does provide an instant time-warp experience. The seats, carpets and trim are all in exceptional condition; those biscuit coloured seats retaining their famous comfort and the general impression is of a really rather refined, luxurious thing to be in. The sunroof functions perfectly and fills the Scandi interior with light, making it feel far more modern than its registration would give away.
All switches, dials and buttons function as expected including the unique turbo pressure gauge on the dash. The owner did note that the fuel gauge however can be ‘temperamental’, often finding that it takes a long time to register changes in fuel levels.
Open the rear hatch and you’re greeted by one of the car’s party tricks: an enormous and, importantly, highly useable boot thanks to its completely flat floor. Elsewhere the only change to the original equipment is an upgrade set of speakers and new radio unit to replace the old, non-functioning items in the car.
Though built to withstand the ravages of many a Scandinavian Winter, the biggest watchouts when shopping for a Saab 900 is rot. This appears to have been a cared for example and – though not without its blemishes – seems structurally sound.
The Cherry Red paintwork is described honestly by the seller as ‘not being perfect’ with some bubbling noted around the bonnet lip, bottom of the front offside wing and some flourishes of apparently DIY paint touch-ups. That said, the paint is lovely and deep in colour, with no signs of damage, dings or dents spotted.
A well-maintained engine from the 900 Turbo has been said to run for well in excess of 400,000 miles and there’s nothing to indicate here that this car wouldn’t be up for such a challenge. The car started on the button and idled comfortably throughout our time photographing it. Looking under the bonnet, we could see no evidence of oil leaks nor any smokiness from the exhaust on a tour around the car.
With the intention of using this car as something to ‘fettle’, the current owner has poured hours into ensuring excellent mechanical condition; recently having completed a full service which included new ignition items, an exhaust system refurbishment with new central section and gaskets, plus all necessary fluids and filters changed.
The car’s previous owners have clearly demonstrated similar levels of upkeep and the car now apparently drives well with no knocks, clunks or squeaks. The 5-speed gearbox is said to operate perfectly and hold onto each gear (something which many a 900 are prone to jumping out of from time to time) while the suspension remains smooth, and the turbo operates as expected.
There’s so much to love about the Saab 900 Turbo… it feels like a genuinely important car in history, yet there’s something strangely modest about it – crazy when you consider that it is essentially the ancestor to the modern turbo hot hatch.
To drive, it feels special… the notorious turbo lag is something to be loved and learned, the driver just having to adjust his/her driving style to match. This is a quirky four-seater with amazing engineering pedigree, all while exuding an understated feeling of luxury.
This example offers a fantastic opportunity; a near-immaculate interior - where just so much of the car’s character comes from - a sound chassis and reliable, well-maintained mechanics make it a great, unique buy.
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