SOTW: Saab 9000 Carlsson


Shed is not one to shy away from a barge - as regular Shed fans will know - but a 20-plus-year-old Saab is a bit rich even for Shed's blood (although not unknown).

But the 9000 Carlsson is a little bit special. In markets outside the UK, it was known as the Talladega in honour of the 19 endurance records set by three standard turbocharged 9000s at Talladega Speedway in the US in 1986. In the UK, however, it carried on the tradition of the Saab 900 Carlsson and took its moniker from Swedish rally legend Erik Carlsson.


As well as a revised ECU (to allow for higher turbo boost pressure) and a twin-tailpipe exhaust that together liberated around an extra 30bhp or so from the engine (bringing it to 204bhp), the Carlsson was endowed with a less-than-subtle bodykit of colour-coded sills, bumpers and tail spoiler. Among the more appealing visual tweaks are a leather Momo steering wheel, and 16in alloys that are either cross-spoke jobs or the classic three-spoke Saab efforts.

The first Carlsson that caught our eye was this red one, up for £600, which really looks the part, and is the later 'sloping-nose' model with the 2.3-litre lump and traction control. Sadly it has been off the road for five years and thus, we suspect, rather breaks SOTW's T&T rule.


But, having got the taste for a Carlsson, a brief spot of extra trawling brought up a black hatch - complete with MOT (just) for £595. It needs a wee bit of TLC (the seller admits as much) and is the earlier 'flat-nosed' model with the 2.0-litre engine, but still represents a lot of turbocharged Swedish fun for the money

SORN'd Saab 9000 saloon ad is reproduced below

Saab 9000 cd carlsson turbo 2.3 For Sale (1991) £600
for sale is my carlsson which i have owned for 12 years it has been off the road for 5 yrs it has 130 k no mot no tax still starts and drives and is complete there is no rust just the odd minor blemish here and there it is solid underneath no welding required it needs handbrake sorting out and some bulbs are missing it will drive anywhere with no problems.the tcs needs re calibrating so it is a bit juddery but this will make a cracking car with little effort reluctant sale but i need my driveway back it has been dry stored all the time i have owned it loss off premises forces sale i have old mots service history



Hatchback 9000 Carlsson ad is reproduced below


SAAB 9000 Carlsson For Sale (1989), £595
SAAB 9000 Carlsson, black with dark grey leather interior. Circa 155,000 miles. MOT until mid August, and I dont believe any work will be needed to renew. Looks stunning, and goes extremely well. In good sound condition, but needs a bit more tlc. There are a few jobs that need doing but these are easy DIY type jobs. It does however need a new headlining.
This is a genuine flat fronted Carlsson which can only go up in value
Please phone if you are interested - Emails bore me!
Drive away for only £595 - so be quick!




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Comments (99) Join the discussion on the forum

  • ylee coyote 18 Aug 2010

    aeropilot said:
    Wing Commander said:
    The thing is, I won't be upgrading any other parts ie internals so don't want to shorten the life of the car.
    You don't need to..... stock internals are good for 500hp.

    However, as you say, with not upgrading any of the chassis/brake bits, 270 is more than enough. (IMHO way too much, as I thought the standard 225hp was too much for the standard chassis in my old 9000 Aero wink )
    Yes the chassis is understeery safe
    but a bit of polybushing tightens it up nicely
    and then beef up the rear a/r bar for a bit of lift off oversteer and a grippy front end
    tie in a LSD and bingo you have a very planted car through the twisties ....

    brakes are crap tho (even when you upgrade them )

  • ylee coyote 18 Aug 2010

    kprm77 said:
    Here's one of the same colour, though this one is immaculate:



    Roof mounted safety camera dispenser optional biggrin

    [Pedant mode]
    The 2.3 Carlssons were 220BHP.
    [/Pedant mode]

    My old Carlsson felt a lot quicker than my current 250BHP 9-5 Aero. Still the quickest car mid range I've driven. (Only other quick cars I've driven are a standard Sierra Sapphire Cosworth, and a Focus ST2).

    This looks like my old one:



    I liked the bodykits - made the car look like a slow car with a silly body kit, though mine was double bluffing biggrin

    ylee coyote said:
    I have one as a track car
    what you say ,that old barge

    well at marham last time it was embarrasing some people round the twisty bits
    especially in the rain
    cars were spinning off trying to keep in front of it

    And its only done 260,000 miles .....
    That's not my old white one is it? Thought it was dead - or is it another one?

    Kevin Mc

    Edited by kprm77 on Saturday 14th August 08:22
    Sorry kevin yours died quite a while ago (at 280,000) victim of a turbo goingand it hydrolocked the engine (still got the rear spoiler)

    This was one of wrigars cast offs....


  • Wing Commander 17 Aug 2010

    H141RUJ said:
    Saabs, on the whole have always been an acquired taste, and they can be a bit like Marmite. I could never see why anyone would ever want to drive one without a turbo.
    I now have a collection of Carlssons in various stages of rebuild from breakers to work in progress to fully reconditioned.

    I can't deny the red CD (saloon) doesn't look the nicest - I would bleed Saab if cut, but as the paint fades they do become dusty pink, instead of the bright Talladega red and look 'unloved'. The saloon never looked good in red and even worse in white. Black was the best colour without a doubt, although in 1992, some other colours opened up for the run-out models and I have, what I believe to be the only factory blue CD Carlsson made. The hatchbacks looked great in red - but awful in white - god only knows why that colour choice was ever made available - whoever said they look good in a dark colour was absolutely spot on.
    Most cars with Traction control are a nightmare to put it politely - 99% of the time, its all to do with the vacuum system and once you've had the heartache of figuring it all out, it's often straightforward enough to work out what's gone wrong from the feel of the car as it drops into limp-home mode. After 15 plus years of driving these - maybe I'm finally getting the hang of it. Once you get the TCS system sorted and stay on top of them, they aren't a bother.
    These are fab cars to drive - comfortable, fast and as long as they are set up properly with all the bushings in proper condition and not all 'soft', they'll go round corners in the right direction pretty damn quick, though rough roads can leave them feeling a bit jittery.
    As long as you're not pressing hard on the loud pedal, the 2.3's will turn early thirties to the gallon, the 2.0's about 35 maybe 38 at a push. The 2.3's have a more progressive, two stage boost system which provides base boost for manoeuverability then full boost for overtaking. It was designed to smooth out the torque steer problems someone else complained about earlier.
    Depending on the year, the 2.0 may be 204 bhp or 194 if its a 1990 - due to the installation of a CAT and a closed loop EGR system. There you go - environmentalists taking the fun out of things again.....
    One of the great tricks in driving the 2.3 cars (sometimes works on the 2.0's as well) is to 'feather' the throttle at full boost - it means the boost keeps building out into the 'red' zone as you head into the sunset, rather than having to move up a gear to get the boost back. I generally prefer the 2.3's for that reason and the extra torque from the longer piston throw.
    Would I buy the CD on offer - maybe as a parts car. If you don't have all of the tools/parts on the shelf to fix it, the TCS system will be enough to have you sticking your head in the nearest oven...
    As for a sleeper...the guy driving the Carrera 4S last weekend coming up over the Shap on the M6 had a shocked look on his face when my Abbott tuned Carlsson sat in on his tail before blasting past as he climbed the hill. Not bad for a 19 year old motor with 228,000 on the clock......
    One comment about the Carlsson being the preferred discount tool for 'window shoppers' - the insurance group still remains 17 for these motors. Ever remember the Sierra Cosworth? Courtesy of the Twockers these were a group 20 car.
    I'd like to see how many M3's, GTR's, WRX's and RS's are still around 10 to 15 years from now.....
    Absolutely brilliant first post! You, sir, will fit in well around here smile

  • H141RUJ 17 Aug 2010

    Saabs, on the whole have always been an acquired taste, and they can be a bit like Marmite. I could never see why anyone would ever want to drive one without a turbo.
    I now have a collection of Carlssons in various stages of rebuild from breakers to work in progress to fully reconditioned.

    I can't deny the red CD (saloon) doesn't look the nicest - I would bleed Saab if cut, but as the paint fades they do become dusty pink, instead of the bright Talladega red and look 'unloved'. The saloon never looked good in red and even worse in white. Black was the best colour without a doubt, although in 1992, some other colours opened up for the run-out models and I have, what I believe to be the only factory blue CD Carlsson made. The hatchbacks looked great in red - but awful in white - god only knows why that colour choice was ever made available - whoever said they look good in a dark colour was absolutely spot on.
    Most cars with Traction control are a nightmare to put it politely - 99% of the time, its all to do with the vacuum system and once you've had the heartache of figuring it all out, it's often straightforward enough to work out what's gone wrong from the feel of the car as it drops into limp-home mode. After 15 plus years of driving these - maybe I'm finally getting the hang of it. Once you get the TCS system sorted and stay on top of them, they aren't a bother.
    These are fab cars to drive - comfortable, fast and as long as they are set up properly with all the bushings in proper condition and not all 'soft', they'll go round corners in the right direction pretty damn quick, though rough roads can leave them feeling a bit jittery.
    As long as you're not pressing hard on the loud pedal, the 2.3's will turn early thirties to the gallon, the 2.0's about 35 maybe 38 at a push. The 2.3's have a more progressive, two stage boost system which provides base boost for manoeuverability then full boost for overtaking. It was designed to smooth out the torque steer problems someone else complained about earlier.
    Depending on the year, the 2.0 may be 204 bhp or 194 if its a 1990 - due to the installation of a CAT and a closed loop EGR system. There you go - environmentalists taking the fun out of things again.....
    One of the great tricks in driving the 2.3 cars (sometimes works on the 2.0's as well) is to 'feather' the throttle at full boost - it means the boost keeps building out into the 'red' zone as you head into the sunset, rather than having to move up a gear to get the boost back. I generally prefer the 2.3's for that reason and the extra torque from the longer piston throw.
    Would I buy the CD on offer - maybe as a parts car. If you don't have all of the tools/parts on the shelf to fix it, the TCS system will be enough to have you sticking your head in the nearest oven...
    As for a sleeper...the guy driving the Carrera 4S last weekend coming up over the Shap on the M6 had a shocked look on his face when my Abbott tuned Carlsson sat in on his tail before blasting past as he climbed the hill. Not bad for a 19 year old motor with 228,000 on the clock......
    One comment about the Carlsson being the preferred discount tool for 'window shoppers' - the insurance group still remains 17 for these motors. Ever remember the Sierra Cosworth? Courtesy of the Twockers these were a group 20 car.
    I'd like to see how many M3's, GTR's, WRX's and RS's are still around 10 to 15 years from now.....

  • Wing Commander 17 Aug 2010

    aeropilot said:
    Wing Commander said:
    The thing is, I won't be upgrading any other parts ie internals so don't want to shorten the life of the car.
    You don't need to..... stock internals are good for 500hp.

    However, as you say, with not upgrading any of the chassis/brake bits, 270 is more than enough. (IMHO way too much, as I thought the standard 225hp was too much for the standard chassis in my old 9000 Aero wink )
    I don't really mean internals I guess. I mean things like injectors, the turbo (mine is the T35, not the TD04).

    I am pretty busy at the moment though so the upgrade is going to have to wait!

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