SOTW: Saab 900 Turbo(s)

Immaculate on a 'G'...
Immaculate on a 'G'...
The first time I experienced scuttle shake properly was, perversely, in a Saab 900. A friend of mine at university had a late turbo 16-valve hatchback version that was so lacking in bracing structure, owing to the cavernous space behind the rear seats, that the CD player skipped if you drove over so much as a discarded cigarette packet.

And yet I always had a soft spot for the car. It was fast, it was unusual and it made a great noise. Admittedly it was not entirely standard - but even without the straight-through exhaust my mate had fitted (to his car, I ought to point out) the old triumph-derived slant-four still made the sort of God-gargling-mouthwash thrum that also makes old Subarus sound so good.

I was smitten. Who cared if it had enough torque steer to switch lanes via the throttle rather than the steering wheel?

By the late eighties, Saab had also managed to get rid of (some) the huge gobs of turbo lag that made the original 99 Turbo such an unpredictable beast.

...or tattier but on an 'L'? Choices, choices...
...or tattier but on an 'L'? Choices, choices...
It might also have been a little down on capacity and cylinders compared with six-pot efforts from the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi, but with the aid of that turbo it was far from outgunned. Its 175bhp and, more significantly, 201lb ft of torque gave the 900 enough poke to deal with the 0-60mph sprint in less than eight seconds and to hit a maximum of 130mph.

Provided you could keep the thing in a straight line, the mid-range punch from the turbo meant overtaking was a bit of a doddle too.

Genuinely cheap, clean 900 Turbos are getting rare these days, but Shed has managed to spot two likely-looking candidates in the PH classifieds for below the magic £1k barrier. Both claim to have a full history, and both have plenty of MOT. And the differences? One appears to have been snapped in a scrapyard - and happens to be 200 quid cheaper.

Other than that and a small mileage difference there's not a lot to choose between them. Apart from the fact that the more expensive one looks a little bit more shiny...

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Advert for the 1989 car is reproduced below:

Saab 900 t16v (1989)
150,000 miles £950

...older car looks tidy inside...
...older car looks tidy inside...
1989 Black with grey trim and grey cloth interior in very clean condition.
150000 miles with lots of service paperwork. The car drives very tight due to new bearing , bushes and link arms all round, she is a great driver and i am only selling due to me relocating to a remote location were four wheel drive is more suitable.
MOT till June tax though has just run out.


Advert for the leggier 1993 car is reproduced below:

...but no cabin shot of the younger car
...but no cabin shot of the younger car
SAAB 900 T16S (1993)
175,000 miles £750


P.H. O'meter

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Comments (192) Join the discussion on the forum

  • W00DY 15 Jan 2011

    I was going to see the bottom one this weekend but couldn't be arsed with the drive to Scotand. Guy seems nice on the phone though, quite up front and honest. It needs tracking, but he's only done a few miles since the MOT.

    ETA: I also emailed the top one's seller. Not immaculate, bit of bonnet rust. It's not an S either which is less desireable and windy windows could make resale tough.

    Edited by W00DY on Friday 14th January 10:01

  • chunkymonkey71 15 Jan 2011

    Always liked these.

    Years ago I looked at a 3 door "jubilee" edition with full leather. Lovely car but had a few wee tatty bits on it so I didnt get it. Ended up buying an Audi 80.

    Liked the Audi but kind of wish I'd got the SAAB. (oddly enough, the SAAB was only a 3 door, but still about 7 inches longer than the Audi!)

  • youngsod 15 Jan 2011

    Has the G-plate one gone already?

  • Faust66 15 Jan 2011

    Remember racing a mate who had one of these in my 2.8 Capri - pretty even in a straight line until we got to the twisty bits and he pulled ahead... we were doing very silly speeds though!

    Ah, memories.

    Always wanted one though but the FWD/torque steer issues have put me off so far. One day though...

  • SVX 15 Jan 2011

    I ran a 'J' plate T16S, absolutely loved it, chopped in for my first Subaru @ 180K miles - would have another in a heart beat. The 'ruby' run out model and the last edition T16S convertible in über-rare metallic aubergine are appreciating assets.

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