I am actually in the process of rebuilding it so I can confidently say there were many more miles left in it.
The main reasons for the rebuild were to fix the paint, add some performance and to change the engine gaskets.
As for actual faults while I was driving it:
- Boot locking didn't always work when drivers lock was operated.
- Bracket holding exhaust to gearbox fell off and caused the exhaust to catch on speed bumps.
- Cruise control system is unreliable on these cars and mine broke because the thing that pulls the accelerator fell off - cheap easy fix.
- Selling dealer used T-Cut on the red paint and it started to fade badly soon after purchase - have had it resprayed now.
These cars are great. The running gear is bullet proof. The more regular problems are all with ancillary kit like central locking or air conditioning. If you want every thing to work well all the time then you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty! They are very rewarding cars to work on simply for the fact that things seem to quite simple whilst also being solid and well made.
People who buy these cars today as modern classics are usually extremely happy with them and are often found only to part with them for a newer or better spec'ed car. Often owners have/have had more than one Saab 900.
Both the 900i and the 900 turbo are great cars. The 900i is also fairly swift despite not being turbocharged.
I have owned 2 Saab 900's including a late low mileage turbo convertible and the car for which this review is being written. I also enjoyed driving a 900i although this wasn't my car.
The key to buying a good 900 is to make sure there is no rust and to buy a car with a specification you like. Rust at the bottom of the doors or sides of the bonnet is common, but can be easily fixed. Make sure that any rust you do see isn't in a place that is difficult to get to as that will be expensive to repair and could be the downfall of your 900. A pretty hot place for this kind of rust is behind the front wheels in the bottom of the engine bay - wet dirt collects in this area and it tends to cause rust - check both sides.
The 900 is a very comfortable car, epically if you go for the leather seats, some of the seats have a Bridge of Weir label in the head rests and this leather is exceptionally comfortable.
The load carrying capacity is very good with the combi/coupe and also pretty good with the saloon.
A 900 turbo is an easy car to tune, the engine can withstand a good hammering and will battle on for hundreds of thousands of miles - a very well built engine which handles additional performance easily.
There are 5 main output levels: (aprox figures)
- 2.0i: 130/140 bhp
- 2.0 8v turbo: 150bhp
- 2.0 16v light pressure turbo (LPT) : 150bhp
- 2.0 16v Turbo 175bhp
- 2.0 Ruby or Carlsson (UK models) 185bhp.
Something else to note about the car is the suspension setup. Double wishbones at the front and trailing-arm at the rear provides a squeak-free ride (i.e. no tire squeal unless you really push it) indicating a good setup.
Driving is a pleasure in this car, the seats give good support, there is a leather steering wheel and gear leaver option, it handles well and the performance is reasonable (turning to ‘insane’ if you decide to modify)
The fact that there is a really good supply of pattern-parts and discount resellers of genuine parts means this car can be kept on the road and in good condition without breaking the bank.
Saab club events are regular either as a member of the official Saab owners club or with one of the un-official Internet forums.
Above all – think very carefully when considering a 2nd generation 1993 onward Saab 900 as these cars are nowhere near as good as the original, are based on the Vauxhall Caviller chassis and only seem to appeal to a handful of ‘enthusiastic’ owners (there’s always a few) It also seems that there are more of the old classic-shape 900’s on the road compared when compared with the newer model. Things improved when the new Saab 93 was introduced – but the c900 is a hard car to beat.
I expect to have mine for many more years.