1985 SAAB 90 5-speed 2 litre from UK and Ireland


Quality, style and character at a bargain price


Radiator clogged/replaced.

Front brake calipers/cradles partly seized/worn.

Carb diaphragm failed (limps home on idle when this happens - I now carry spare and top up with recommended auto trans fluid, eg Castrol TQF, not engine oil)

Side/indicator light bulb-holders damaged by someone forcing in single-filament bulbs (doubles needed for both lights on eash side)

Five or six dashboard switches replaced.

Headlining drooping/torn, so board taken out and new cloth attached.

Broken/faded/damaged exterior trim bits, eg wheelarch trims, a door handle, front grille/headlamp surrounds, bonnet badge etc.

Wheels rusty.

Minor rust to front edge of one rear wheelarch.

Surface rust to parts of engine compartment - repaint, prime with redox & waxoyl this and other body areas.

Slight leak into boot & surface rust only in rear corners - seal, prime & paint.

Brake servo pipe bush blew out of cam cover.

New exhaust needed.

Otherwise service items only.

General Comments:

Saab 90 is unusual model - basically a small-production run-out model of the 99 with a 900 saloon rear end. So 99-type dashboard etc.

Fantastic car all round - good value (cost £600), well-built, solid, lots of character, really intelligently thought through (eg 6' flat floor when seat down - ideal for house moves and emergency camping).

Good performance for weight, engine smooth-running, car very stable at speed, very reliable. Excellent long-distance car as quiet & comfortable; great seats.

Running costs: 25-30mpg. Parts/service not as cheap as a clapped-out fleet car, but very cheap for quality of car and the long-term reliability you get. Many more parts available than for a lot of 1980s cars. Many minor bits (shared with 99 and 900 saloon) still available from scrapyards or s/hand specialists.

Dealer service: reliability/helpfulness of all 3 dealers used to date (depending on my location) excellent. Repair work can be expensive so small jobs (eg fitting trim etc) done at home; parts supplied in excellent packaging.

Only possible negative is if you are not physically big - the controls are heavy by modern standards (eg no power steering and clutch & brakes quite meaty) Ignore gear whine - it's normal apparently!

A bonus: engine has timing chain, not cam-belt, and engine is renowned for very long life if oil and filter changed regularly. Gearbox long-lived provided oil kept topped up and not driven brutally. No trouble from mine.

Really excellent car all round; I can't think of a 100,000-mile 18 year old car which would have lasted better or be less trouble/expense to run, and have as much life left in it. Recommended!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th July, 2002

19th Feb 2004, 04:53

A Saab 99 or 90 H-engine generally wears out at 250.000km because of oil consumption caused by valve seat wear. You need a new head gasket then. That is too expensive, so they and up at the scrapyard. Running cost is very high, many repairs needed. I know of several 99 and 90 owners who had to replace a gear box at least three times. Third gear generally jumps out. I needed "only" two gearboxes. Horridly expensive to repair, because the engine must come out of the car then. But... I never had a nicer car to drive!


27th Jun 2005, 16:22

Yep, Ronald. The gearbox is a common problem on Saab's with a H-engine. Actually it is not the gearbox, but the fact that the whole engine has to be removed for a repair. For the rest it's a good car to drive...

I have driven 265.000 kilometers with a 90 without problems with the gearbox, so it can be done. And another advantage is that the H-engine has an excellent durability on gas (LPG).

By the way, if you buy a 90, buy a blue one. These are produced in Finland and they had a better treatment against corrosion...


1985 SAAB 90 2.0 V4 petrol from UK and Ireland


Cheap and fun


Clutch needed to be changed.

Radiator leaked.

Minor faults with instrumentation.

Headlamp washers don't work, but I'm not too bothered about that.

General Comments:

This is a superbly styled and excellent looking car. It is also very rare (perhaps not so good as spared are hard to find. The performance (105 and over mph) is excellent for its age.

The car is in very good condition both inside and out. The interior is comfortable and spacious, although the fake wood capping leaves something to be desired.

Whenever I go out in it it leaves a smile on my face; it's really nice to drive and performance is (as I have already said) excellent.

The car is not economic (28 mpg), but it was very cheap to buy (£650) and is generally a brilliant all-round vehicle.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th May, 2002

1st Apr 2003, 16:17

Hi is this really a V4 petrol? if it is, I woud imagine it would be a car of value to Saab?

3rd Apr 2003, 09:12

Yes - the SAAB 90, being really just a 99 with the rear end of a 900 (though still stylishly done) was only available with the 1985 cc V4 petrol engine. Two-strokes were used on the earlier 92, 93, 95 and 96 models, though the 96 also had a V4 petrol option.

29th Dec 2003, 07:25


The SAAB 90 was never equipped with a V4 engine. It had an in-line 4 cylinder.

Only SAAB 95 and 96, plus the sports car "Sonett", had the V4 engine, which was bought from Ford.