"I remember when these were Shed money!" How many times have you read that on a PistonHeads story recently? Quite a few, surely; from hot hatches to sports cars, there's no escaping the fact that many of us didn't move quickly enough when some real gems were at bargain basement level. Fast forward through a few years of scrappage schemes and ballooning classic values, though, and you're left with cars that were once so easily attainable, now at a very different price point.
See this Saab 9000 Turbo Carlsson. Back in the halcyon days of 2010, PH had a week with TWO Carlsson turbos at £600. Oh sure, one had been off the road for five years and the other needed "a bit more TLC", but the fact stands that they were both available for a tenth of what this Carlsson is listed for.
Yep, it's a Saab 9000 at £6,500. Register your outcry now. But think of it this way: According to HowManyLeft there are just 17 other cars like this also registered in the UK. For many this was a peak for Saab (the 9000 having been created before GM ownership), the cars never quite reclaimed such a level of popularity in the UK and, without wishing to state the obvious, Saabs like this aren't going to return. People talk about hot hatches not being how they used to be, or sports cars being too refined in the 21st century, but at least they still exist. The big, plush, fast Saab saloon is moribund (and has been for a while), which only makes the demand higher.
Moreover, as is often the way as cars become scarcer and scarcer, only the best examples remain - and that's certainly the case with this Carlsson. It really does look sensational. Owned by a father and son from new until 2011, then parked up in storage, it has been sympathetically restored by the current custodian to a fantastic standard. There are new bits for the body, interior, engine and chassis, but crucially - and without wishing to belittle the achievement here - this 9000 is not quite perfect. This isn't a car that must be saved for use on four days in calendar year; indeed the owner suggests it could "be used and enjoyed as it is or would make a solid base for a project car". By the looks of it, this Saab is not too immaculate to drive regularly, but also not too afflicted by issues to be constantly in the garage - just about spot on for a usable classic, then.
And why wouldn't you want to drive a 9000 Turbo Carlsson regularly? This was a car Motorsport magazine described as having a "suave punch" from under the bonnet, "an unbeatable combination of practicality and performance could still be enjoyed whilst it was laden like a refugee's camel." Perhaps not the choice of words we'd have gone for, but still seemingly high praise indeed...
Alternatives? Perhaps a couple, though the unique appeal of a Saab will surely render them both redundant. See this E34 5 Series, for example, or this late Mercedes W124 E320. Nice cars both, but if your heart is set on a Saab they're not going to cut it. 'Performance through responsibility' was Saab's advertising strapline for this car, the Swedes particularly pleased that they had introduced traction control to tame the car's 220 wild horsepower. Today the onus of responsibility is on the next owner, rather than its maker - to not only use this Saab in the correct fashion now, but to preserve it for future generations to enjoy!
SPECIFICATION - SAAB 9000 TURBO CARLSSON
Engine: 2,290cc, four-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 225@5,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 246@2,000rpm
MPG: 31.4 (Govt figure at 75mph)
First registered: 1992
Recorded mileage: 94,000
Price new: £26,995
Yours for: £6,500
See the original advert here.