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1990 Saab 900 Turbo Carlsson

The Background

 
When you think of Saab, you think of forced induction. You think of turbos. Why? Because in 1977 the Saab 99 burst onto the scene and became the car to truly popularise the notion of a turbocharged car. Yes, there was the BMW 2002 Turbo and the Porsche 911 Turbo, but both were high-end, limited number machines. The Saab 99 was built to propel the masses, and indeed it did. By 1979 some 10,000 turbocharged Saabs had been built and sold. 
 
And that leads us onto the car we’re looking at here, namely a Saab 900 Turbo Carlsson. This was the highly anticipated sequel to Saab’s 99 Turbo, and it did not disappoint. It was bigger, it boasted more power, better handling and greater speed. Saab was keen to score another win with the 900 Turbo, and a win was what it got. The car, with its bold styling and big power was the perfect machine for the ‘bigger is better’ excess of the 1980s and as such, the 900 Turbo flew out of dealerships. It was also a very clever car in terms of marketing. The ‘normal’ 900 - while still a great car - was perceived in a completely different way to the rambunctious Turbo, which only helped make the Turbo seem more exclusive. This one’s also a manual, so scores full marks for driver engagement, especially with that boost gauge doing its thing on the dash…
 
This example here is more than just a 900 Turbo though. - It's a Carlsson. A nod to Erik ‘on the roof’ Carlsson, who was famous for his Saab rallying exploits.

 

The History

 
Much like some Hollywood actors, this Saab was enjoyed in its early life, it faded a little in later life and now it has emerged, rejuvenated and ready to satiate the needs of a new fanbase. Just have a look at the images and you’ll be able to see for yourself that the 900 is in exceptional condition (we’ll go into more detail below). But this is no survivor car. Instead, this is a car that has been lavished with attention over the last three years.

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The Paperwork

 
As well as a V5, the car comes with receipts detailing over £3,400 worth of repairs during its restoration along with a selection of photographs showing Eric Carlsson with the car during the early 2000s.

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The Exterior

 
The current owner had been searching for a solid base car for some time before finding this 1990 model. It’s been enjoyed over the years, with six prior owners and 185,000 miles on the clock, but those owners had cared for the car, and that mileage is meagre for such a sturdy car. The MOT history backs up that this Saab has been used throughout its life, with only occasional, short breaks off the road for repairs and upkeep. This car has been regular, reliable transport for its entire life, and while there are repairs and fails on the MOT history, they are commensurate with a car that has lived a life. 
 
Furthermore, the MOT history is almost moot now, given the current condition of the vehicle. The current owner, who has had this 900 since 2017, has returned the car to near factory condition. This car has been a trusty steed, which no doubt took a toll. However, those years of active service have been rewarded over the last three years, as we’ll explain below…
 
It’s cliche to simply say ‘look at the pictures’ but honestly, do look at them. The hard lines and large, flat panels of the Saab 900 do not suffer the work of fools. As such, when you look at this one and see those arrow-straight lines, you know it’s honest and not a quick repair. In fact, no repairs on this 900 over the last three years have been quick. Everything has been done properly, and in great detail, and the result is a Saab to rival all others. 
 
The work started in 2017 and involved the engine and transmission. Once removed, the engine was given a complete overhaul including new timing chain, guides and sprockets. The engine bay was cleaned and degreased, too. A new cooling fan was fitted as well as new wiring sections, a new cooling hard line/pipe was removed and remade and the gearbox was given a health check and new fluid. The brake fluid was changed, and the air conditioning system re-gassed, too. All this work came in at over £3,400 as you can see. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. 
 
Other mechanical work includes a flush of the fuel system and the replacement of all the fuel lines in the boot, new shock absorbers front and back along with bump stops. 
 
Wanting the car to be perfect, the body and interior have been completely overhauled. As you can see, there has been a full re-spray in bright red, the chassis has been treated and any rust has been professionally removed and replaced with fresh metal. This included, but is not limited to, repairs to the nearside front lower floor section. A full grind-back and clean of any chassis surface rust and follow-up treatment with rust killer, stone chip and high temperature wax (all cavities filled). Repairs to the rear arches, inner and outer. Repairs to the boot floor and much more. Not one inch was missed. 
 
 And as you can see, in the process of restoring the body of the Saab, the owner has taken the time to bring in some influence from legendary Saab rally driver, Erik Carlsson. As such, it wears a Carlsson body-kit, badges and exceptionally hard to find steering wheel - though of course this as an homage to the great man known fondly as 'Mr. Saab'. The car itself remains a Saab 900 Turbo, but now with some period flare. After all, there is nothing wrong with adding a nod to one of the car's heroes.
 
The car has been treated to a full professional respray, for which it was fully stripped down, so all shut lines and doors jams are painted also. It is an exceptional job, which when combined with the leather interior which also benefited from professional repair, adds up to a car that looks as if it has barely done 5,000 miles, let alone 185,000. 
 
Again, cliché though it may be, the pictures really do speak for themselves. But only because you have such a rich and detailed history to back them up. This is not a quick ‘spit and polish’. This is a full-on, detailed, specialist restoration. Which is why the car looks as impressive as it does. It even comes with a service book signed by famed Saab racer, Erik Carlsson, which makes the badges and body kit all the more fitting.

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The Interior

 
The black leather seats are in exceptional condition, while the Carlsson steering wheel is a wonderful detail feature. Everything inside the cabin is in great order, while traditional Saab touches such as the floor-mounted ignition and dashboard boost gauge turbocharge the sense of Eighties excitement on offer. 
 
The passenger side door trim is a bit baggy, but otherwise everything is in fine order.

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The Mechanics

 
Powered by a 2.0 DOHC 16V turbocharged engine, this old Saab is no slouch. As detailed above, the engine has been fitted with new timing gear, it has been completely serviced from top to bottom and the turbo has been checked for any issues such as impeller damage and oil leaks. All is, as you would expect, in good order. The B202 engine is one of Saab’s finest and most long standing, and with the addition of that 16-valve cylinder head and Garret T25 turbo it’s a serious performer. 
 
The suspension has been completely renewed, as have the brakes and steering. The electrical system has been inspected and, where required, professionally repaired, as has the fuel system toward the rear of the car. No nut or bolt has been left unturned in the pursuit of making this Saab into what it is today.

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The Appeal

 
The Carlsson is an iconic car. Fast, handsome and with bags and bags of character. The demise of Saab in later life is made somewhat bittersweet when we look upon and drive cars such as this 900. It stands today as a reminder of how great, how free-thinking and bold Saab once was. It was not a brand to conform or bend to the will of outside pressures, such as the many executives of outside companies that tried to tame it. Saab was a rebel, it was the motoring world’s wild child, and we love it for that. 
 
And we love this generation because it’s perhaps the most representative of Saab’s spirit. It was a car like no other, but it was one produced with so much passion and fire that we, the buying public, welcomed it onto our driveways. We eventually fell for the unconventional aesthetic, we bonded with it and because of that, we became incredibly fond of it. Nobody today owns a Saab because it’s ‘a car’. Saab owners drive Saabs because they want a Saab. Few other brands have that appeal. And with this being one of a limited series edition, the appeal is just that ever so more greater.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sales of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
 

Vehicle specification
  • Year 1990
  • Make Saab
  • Model 900 Turbo
  • Colour Red
  • Mileage 184,021
  • Engine size 1985
  • Location Bedfordshire
Bidding history
3 bids
  • jefflaw•••• £10,250 18/09/20
  • Aaronpr•••• £10,000 08/09/20
  • Chopper•••• £100 08/09/20

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