1991 SAAB 900 Reviews

1991 SAAB 900 Turbo Convertible 2.1 turbo gas from North America

Model year1991
Year of manufacture1991
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 2.1 turbo gas Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 6 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.3 / 10
Distance when acquired138000 miles
Most recent distance139000 miles

Summary:

Unique car, fun to drive, but be prepared to spend money to keep it on the road

Faults:

- Replaced headlight wipers at 138K (driver's side wiper blade plastic clip was broken; got matching pair from salvage yard, with blades, for $2)

- Installed black velour dash cover at 138K to hide numerous dash cracks (bought online for $50)

- Replaced door panel inserts and rear speaker surrounds with black velvet, due to factory gray material being loose and "ripply" (matched new dash cover, $10 in material and installed myself)

- Tilt back function on seats doesn't work (switch works, probably cable housing is broken on both seats)

- Dash lights are extremely dim.

- Auto trans selector illumination light doesn't work.

- Front passenger seat bottom leather has a small rip where the panels are stitched together (want to replace the seats with manual ones anyway, if I can find some; otherwise, will purchase seat covers for the front and back)

General Comments:

- Love the looks of these "classic" 900's, especially the convertible! Mine is fire engine red with a black top, gray leather interior, black dash and console, 3-speed automatic. I've had the car about a month, purchased in Nov 2011 with 138K miles.

- Built very solid, even the convertible feels very well put together, with the top up or down (nice to have a glass rear window, not plastic). Very easy to carry on a conversation or listen to the radio with the top down and side windows up.

- Getting used to Saab "quirks", like the engine being in backwards (belts towards the firewall, trans up front); ignition key in center console, etc.

- Very well equipped from the factory, from a performance perspective (factory-installed intercooler, oil cooler, trans cooler, 2.25" exhaust piping, etc).

- The car is a pleasure to drive, especially with the top down. Has room for 4 adults, more than adequate acceleration and handling for a 20-year old car, spacious trunk for a convertible, won't see too many on the road in this condition. Once I get those seat backs fixed, will be even more comfortable to drive.

- Blacked out the grill and body emblems. Replaced the badly faded blue Saab hood emblem and trunk emblem with black high-dome resin ones that have just the Saab griffon on them. Looks good, in keeping with the black trim look of the car.

- Next upgrade is 2.5" high flow cat and 2.5" Flowmaster-style muffler, with 2.5" tubing front to back. Should increase performance a bit, and give it a good sound, even better than the stock Saab "burble".

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 7th December, 2011

7th Dec 2011, 14:27

An exhaust will give you a little more power, just please don't make it sound like every Honda Civic on the road.

1991 SAAB 900 Aero 2.0L petrol turbo from Australia and New Zealand

Year of manufacture1991
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 2.0L petrol turbo Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.3 / 10
Distance when acquired226000 kilometres
Most recent distance238000 kilometres
Previous carLada Niva

Summary:

A unique car, with all the necessary luxuries and reliability + performance that's sure to surprise

Faults:

I have only had the car for a couple of months, and in that time nothing has gone wrong. However, when I got the car:

- The APC (Automatic Performance Control) was not working correctly. This is responsible for governing how much boost the turbo will give, and adapts automatically to variables eg: fuel octane rating. In my case, it was just a bad wiring connection to the APC solenoid. I was able to fix this for free.

- The electrically heated seats don't work.

- The driver's side seat does not fold forward to allow passengers into the rear seats. This means I have to fold the passenger side seat forward to let them in.

- Only one setting for the interior light works. This means that whilst I can have the lights set to turn on when the doors are opened, I can't turn it on from inside the car just by pressing the switch.

- Headlight wipers only work occasionally. Here in Australia this is no problem.

- A little bit of oil is starting to leak from around the distributor. I think a new O-ring might be needed.

- Strong smell of petrol in the cabin after refueling.

General Comments:

I have only had this car for a couple of months, and so far it has been excellent.

The car seems very reliable, and starts easily every time. The build quality both inside and out also seems to be of a high standard, although some interior plastic leaves a bit to be desired, despite not actually being weak. I think most cars of this age would show more signs of wear and tear. The interior is fairly luxurious for its age, and manages to fit 3 passengers on the back seat.

The boot of this car is huge compared to many new cars I have looked at. This is a definite positive. I can easily fit myself inside it.

The car is fitted with a 6 CD stacker as standard, and speakers front and rear. For the age of the system it is good, but by modern standards, pretty average.

The fuel consumption is not great, but not bad. I might get somewhere around the 11-12L/100km mark.

I love the look of this car. The Saab 900 Aero looks unique with its long 2 door body, large rear spoiler, and near vertical, highly curved windscreen. The 3 spoke aluminium wheels suit the car well.

This car has some pretty serious get up and go. I was amazed at the power when I first drove it. For a nearly 20 year old engine of just 2L capacity, it definitely takes you by surprise. I recently test drove a 2010 Mini Cooper S (I think it was a 1.6L turbo?) and was told prior to the drive by the salesman that it was a "very powerful car". The 900 turbo was noticeably faster, and pushed the seat into your back like the Mini couldn't. My Aero has a non standard exhaust, which gives it a strong engine note, without being annoyingly loud. The whir of the turbo is also nice. This engine makes highway cruising effortless, and downshifts from fifth gear up hill are very rarely needed to keep speed.

Handling is good, although the car is fairly low, and often scrapes due to insufficient approach angle eg: going out of driveways.

There are a couple of things that I think could be done better:

Firstly, the gearbox just doesn't seem as advanced as the engine that is driving through it. Shifts are a bit... I don't know. Notchy? It just doesn't seem as smooth as you'd like it to when shifting. The poor choice of using a cable to go from the clutch pedal on the right hand side of the car, to the clutch master cylinder, which was never relocated from the left, also means that the cable stretches. I think this may be what is causing me troubles getting into first and reverse gears occasionally.

One thing I do like about the gearbox (And I don't know if it was like this from new, or mine is wearing :p) is the way that, whilst changing at high revs, the gear stick only needs the smallest push, and it seems to jolt willingly out of gear, ready to be pushed into the next. Feels pretty cool!

Secondly, the steering. It seems to me like the wheel has to be rotated a bit too far for the amount of cornering you want. This means that negotiating several corners in quick succession, or winding through tight car parks, requires a flurry of hand/arm movements to get the wheel turned enough in time. I mean, it's not totally excessive, but it's made a bit more annoying by the way that turning the wheel more gives more mechanical advantage, and therefore easier turning. This, combined with power steering, seems to make it a bit uncommunicative and loses a bit of driver feel. I have not driven many cars of this age with power steering, although the VW Golf I did drive seems to have a similar feel. Maybe it was an early 90's thing. I'd rather the car have less mechanical advantage from the wheel, thereby giving better feel and reducing the need for lots of arm movement.

Perhaps I'm nitpicking :p.

All in all though, if you want a car that's a bit different, but provides reliability and surprising performance at a reasonable price, the 900 Aero is definitely a good way to go.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th October, 2010

21st Oct 2010, 00:33

I enjoyed your review. I have had my 1989 900 Aero for 11 years. I can't remember what distance it had traveled when I bought it, but it now has 290,000km on the clock.

The non-standard exhaust may be a missing resonator. You used to be able to buy a standard part to replace it that gives a much throatier exhaust noise.

I too love the sound of the turbo spooling up. The car is brilliant for long trips on open roads. Very relaxed cruising and good overtaking torque when you need it.

I have done several trips from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and back via the Newell Highway and have achieved 8.6 L/100km for the trip. My around-town is about 11 - 12 L/100km.

Mine came with an Alpine 6-stacker + in-dash CD system. I had to replace it a few months ago. The six-stacker had jammed and the cost to fix it was too high. I replaced it with another Alpine with single in-dash CD and i-pod connection. I also had to replace all the speakers because the rubber and foam had perished.

Check the heater tap connections where they go through the firewall. The hoses from the engine connect to two plastic nozzles. One of mine broke and I lost all the coolant very quickly. Luckily, both hoses are the same diameter and you can use one of them to bypass the heater tap. Not having a heater in Australia is not a major problem. :-)

My driver's seat is a bit worn. You need to treat the leather well to get a long life from it.

Enjoy your car.

Average review marks: 6.8 / 10, based on 12 reviews