I don’t know about you guys, but I miss Saab. We only ever owned one – a 2001 9-5 wagon – but I’d have had more. Still might, in fact. There’s something innately appealing about cars that are a little different. Quirky, even. I mean, the ignition switch was between the seats! Who does that? Well, nobody does now. All that aside, like their Scandinavian counterparts at Volvo, Saab made a remarkably durable car – and very often a fun one. This 1990 900 Turbo Convertible in Spokane, WA for $2,500 could be a sporting, low cost entry to the strange and wonderful world that
is was Saab.
Apart from the strange little Sonnett, Saabs were not really “sports” cars in the truest sense. Nonetheless, they offered manual transmissions, turbocharged motors, and in the case of this one: a top-down driving experience. In its day, the original Saab 900 Convertible was something of a yuppie car – contemporary to the BMW E30 convertible. A new one would have set you back about $35,000, or about $67,000 today. This wasn’t most people’s first car. For all that coin buyers got a 2 liter 16 valve turbocharged slant-four motor putting out 160hp and 188 lb-ft of torque and bringing 0-60mph in a swift 8.4 seconds. Top speed was 124mph. Good performance numbers for the day, especially considering the motor’s modest roots as a Triumph lump first released in 1968.
Saab 900 interiors didn’t stray much from their original design in 1979, but that’s part of the charm. Gauges are clear and easy to read, and Saab really pioneered the in-dash turbo boost gauge. The radio – an aftermarket unit in this case – falls conveniently to your right fingertips. Other accouterments include power windows, airbag, ABS, rear defroster, power mirrors, and seat heaters. They came standard with air conditioning as well, but, typical of so many Craigslist finds, it doesn’t work on this car. Just a charge? Who knows? Per the seller, “never needed it.” So there you go. At least it has those cool 80’s-liscious factory 3-spoke alloy wheels.
Despite an Alaska license plate, there is no blatant rust to be seen in the photos. Sure, you’d want to look underneath and make sure there are no gaping holes, but I still argue that this is a lot of fun car for $2,500. All the more so when you consider the clutch is practically new, the tires have lots of life left, and it’s got a new battery, muffler, and windshield (!). This appears to be a fun car you could jump in, drop the top, change the oil periodically, and either restore bit by bit as you find things on eBay or just run it until it stops. The seller talks about possibly putting new covers on the seats, but I’m frankly impressed that, although crispy-looking, they are not shredded.
The seller shows the top in both raised and lowered positions, so we know that works. With the recent maintenance and new bits, $2,500 seems a bargain. This car narrowly missed our criteria for “Cheap Heap of the Week” (just $500 too much), but I’d have almost felt bad putting it in that camp. This is a bona-fide classic, it’s got some miles (178,000 of them, in fact), but it is usable and has some more fun miles in front of it. As one of just 7,000 imported in 1990, this isn’t necessarily a rare car, but they are certainly getting thinner on the ground.
So what do you think? Turbo motor, drop top, stick shift, and a few very unique characteristics like that goofy ignition key. Is it worth $2,500? Personally, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see it listed at $4,000 or a little more. If it wouldn’t cost me 3/4 the purchase price to ship it across the country, I might have bought it myself. Except my wife knew someone back in the day she didn’t like that had one, so every time I’ve tried she’s nixed it. Killjoy.