Okay...so the last
thing I was looking for was another car. I had the 107 and the 306
as my daily runarounds, and the van as the project. Was happy with
Then a friend
dropped me an email with a link to a classified listing on eBay, simply
titled "thought you might like this." The link was to a classified
ad for a Classic Saab 900i, with tax and test, 113K on the clock, for
£495. Photos weren't stellar, but it didn't look too bad. It
was only an hour and a half drive from here, and that that price I
figured had to be worth a look. Even if it wasn't great it was
surely worth more than the asking price.
The main photo
from the listing is shown below. This is all I really had to work
with at the time. There were a few photos from other angles as
well - but nothing of the engine bay or of any of the usual rust traps,
and none of a high enough resolution really to show any useful detail.
I spoke initially
with the dealer on the phone, and they seemed very nice actually, even
in spite of my query being about what was quite obviously just a trade
in to clear. They were quite willing to stay back a bit later even
on a Friday afternoon to wait for me to get there from Aberdeen.
Turned out that someone had tried to buy the car while I was on the way,
but were turned away on account of us being on our way. I know
plenty of places where that would have been a case of tough luck for us
when we got there!
Given the low
price, I certainly wasn't expecting miracles - and to be honest was
expecting quite a dog of a car. I was surprised, very surprised.
Not a mint car,
no...but a heck of a lot tidier than any I've ever owned. Some
rust, sure enough on the driveshaft tunnels. Welding done, it
looks like for the most recent MOT involved a patch over the surface,
and I'm not 100% happy that the dodgy metal has actually been cut out -
so further investigation and a proper repair will need to follow
there. The engine bay was a disgusting mess - but a disgusting,
reassuringly original looking mess with no apparent bodgery and save for
an engine in need of an oil change, nothing which set alarm bells
ringing. Sure enough the timing cover was leaking oil like a
sieve, but that appeared to be the only place it was escaping
from. It also seemed distinctly reluctant to start from cold,
tending to flood if you gave it anything resembling a chance, but once
up and running, despite idling a little fast it sounded like the
sweetest 8 valve engine I'd heard in many a year. No hint of any
smoke whatsoever, no untoward noises and it was idling as smooth as you
could ask. A quick test drive and I was sold. The car drove
like new. Few quid short of £500 changed hands and I set about
arranging a lift back the following day to retrieve the car.
Below shows what I
got, after a (very) quick skim over with the polish.
The radiator grill
has also been changed here for a chromed one which I've had rattling
around for about the last five years as I think that suits the car far
Note the paper
mats still here from the dealer. Hoping I can track down some blue
original Saab mats to finish it off in there. Aside from the
compulsory sagging headlining, it's pretty much factory fresh in here!
*really* needed a bit of back-to-black on them!
Have done some
very brief cleaning up of the worst grime here, but a lot still to
do. Several vacuum lines have also been replaced as they were
either kinked or perished. Not much else has changed here yet
Compared to the
doors of the previous two 900s I've had, this is positively factory
fresh! A serious rust-treatment and proofing session will be
happening to this door shortly.
This one too -
probably the cleanest example I've seen this one.
In addition to the
car itself, I also got an inch deep pile of documents, which I reckon
must be pretty much every bit of paper ever to relate to it - right back
to the original new vehicle order form and invoice. Not to mention
thousands of pounds worth of invoices for work done over the years, and
a service log stamped all the way up to 99K of its 113K miles.
That, and the Saab Owners Club (which I really need to get around to
joining now of course!) sticker in the front window suggest to me that
this has been a well looked after car which has been the pride of its
owner over the years.
Will probably have
more detailed summaries and photos of the less pretty bits in the coming
weeks - for now, have a wallpaper I spent half an hour putting
All in all so far
however, I am a very, very happy person. This one will definitely
be making its way to a few shows this year.
If this is your
car that you recently traded in - hopefully you're happy to know that
it's landed in the hands of an enthusiast rather than into the hands of
someone just wanting a cheap, disposable car to last them until the MOT
runs out as so often happens to cars in this price bracket.
One of the first
things I noticed when I got the car was that the front speakers were
pretty well knackered, the one on the driver's side in particular far
more interested in producing an annoying buzzing noise than reproducing
actual music. They're luckily a pretty standardised size (150mm)
so switching them out for something more modern is a pretty easy task,
as it's fair to say that speaker technology has come a fair ways in the
last 30 odd years.
There are only really two things to watch out for when doing this
upgrade. The first is that the little plastic lugs which hold the
speaker onto the grill tend to be pretty brittle after this much time (the
heat from the windscreen demisters probably doesn't help) and break quite
easily. If this happens you'll need to get inventive with how to
secure the speaker...The second thing to watch for is that there isn't
much clearance between the front of the speaker and the grill - so beware
of any speakers which have things sticking out beyond the basket (frame)
of the speaker as it may prevent the speaker from being able to fit
properly. In the case of this one I had to make up a cardboard
spacer to prevent the tweeter frame (cut out of a used kitchen roll tube)
from buzzing against the grill. Oh...and don't drop the little tube
that fits between the heater grill and the pipe up from the heater box
down the back of the glove box or it's a pig to retrieve!
During a routine inspection one weekend, I spotted that a bit of the paint
at the back of the wheel arch of the nearside front wheel had started to
bubble. Having seen this before, this sight filled me with dread,
and sure enough, when prodded with a screwdriver, the bubble turned into
an annoyingly sizable hole.
Thankfully this rust was found to be relatively localised, and a good
friend who is a bit of a wizard with a welder was able to get this sorted
out for me in next to no time. Though he did locate some further rot
underneath the washer bottle as well (which was leaking) and sorted that
out while he was there.
He also spotted that the metal brake pipe running from the flexi hose into
the caliper itself was looking a bit sorry for itself, so changed it while
he was there. Turns out the brake fluid was very much in need of a
change...this is what came out!
No idea when this was last changed, but I reckon it's a lot longer ago
than the service documents suggest! It was given a complete flush
following the finding of this obviously. Didn't actually make any
difference to the feel of the brakes really, which were about the most
positive feeling of any car I've ever had even when I got it. Copper
grease on the back of the pads though did put an end to the *maddening*
squeaking on gentle braking though...traffic jams previously were
It was shortly after this that I ended up with an episode which took the
car off the road for the best part of three months, and ended up with a
fault finding mission which resulted in pretty much the entire fuel
injection system being systematically dismantled and reassembled short of
actually taking apart the fuel distributor (though I did dig my spare out
of the shed!).
The fault (which saw me for only the third time ever having to be
recovered - towed behind an RAC van on a rigid towing pole thing...one of
the most unnerving experiences of my life), exhibited itself as
The car would start perfectly from cold, and run absolutely fine for 10
minutes or so. After which the car would start to misfire under
load. This would become progressively worse until the engine would
stall. The symptoms basically pointed straight at fuel
starvation. Cue three months of head scratching, part swapping and
swearing. The eventual cause? The fact that Intermotor have
the wrong rotor arm listed in their catalogue! I randomly stumbled
across one of the original Bosch items in the parts box and as a random
thing to try, stuck it on. The car ran perfectly. I won't
repeat what I said when that happened, but suffice to say that the
offending rotor arm got hurled a significant distance from the car.
Oh well, at least I know that the fuel pump and the warmup regulator
(which controls the fuel pressure) are new!
June 2013 saw the car have its first proper entry into a classic car show,
in the annual classic car show up at Fraserburgh. So the evening
before, the car got a bit of a "spit and polish" ready for the
morning. This was an opportunity of course to take photos of a shiny
car at the beachfront in Aberdeen with dramatic lighting...
The eagle eyed amongst you might also spot that the car has had the deeper
chin spoiler fitted by this point as well which I think really improves
the stance of the car from the front.
The lovely 900 Turbo Convertible that I ended up at the show next to was
just an added bonus.
Fast forward a few months, and a house move several hundred miles south
and a milestone was reached. I was pleased to be on a quiet side
road when this came up, so I was able to snap this photo.
One of the niggles I'd had since I first got the car were that the very
eye catching stainless steel wheel covers were looking a bit tatty.
It turned out that a bit of Brasso, elbow grease and then a good coating
of wax sorted this out...Here's a before and after.
Around that time I had the opportunity to take a few random photographs
following the car having a half decent clean, and having the new (slightly
brighter than expected) interior floor mats fitted.
It really is an interior design which I can only describe as "timeless" in
that it's a design which is very much its own thing...really doesn't
suggest as old a design as it is, dating from 1979. While it might
lack some of the "toys" that people think of as essential these days, I
still find that it's an utterly pleasant place to be.
...Still need to find a black lead for my iPod though...or route the cable
(the head unit has a rear USB socket) out the back into the glove box...It
bugs my OCD...
Finally for now...have some random photographs from a photo shoot we did
at the Bridge of Don Park & Ride site and then Accommodation Road one
I really had never realised until the first time I had someone else
following me in this car that the 900 really does have a rather menacing
stance to it...
...Really need to replace the shredded mudflap at some point. Anyone
got a spare laying around?
Wouldn't be a proper photoshoot without capturing that iconic profile...
I do have a few more updates for this page which I hope to get written
over the weekend which will bring us up to date with the story of "The
Ambassador" as she is known. Sadly I've run out of time for tonight
though, so about to go and fall into bed! ...More to follow soon!
Page Last Updated Friday 12th June 2015.
Engine: 2.0 litre (1985cc) 4-cylinder inline, "Slant 4" layout.
(SOHC, 8v with Bosch K-Jetronic Continuous Fuel Injection.)
Gearbox: 3-speed automatic (Borg Warner Type 37).
Power output: 118bhp.
0-60mph: 13 seconds.
Max speed: Unknown.