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Saab 99, 900 and 9000: Swedish turbo printing from 3 decades

Frank Herzog
Saab 99, 900 and 9000
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S aab drive intellectual freelancers who dress in dark clothes and have a sense of aesthetics. Saab drivers are individualists, they do not like to consume. They are lateral thinkers who despise short-lived fashions and focus on sustainability. The cliché lives on, and it's true - especially that of the Saab driver: He would never get into a BMW or Mercedes. Yes, he has a new one in reserve for later, because the brand is no longer really available.

We started in Germany with a Ford-V4

The Swedes first notable success in Germany was the four-stroke Saab 96 with the 65 HP V4 engine from Ford. A car for rally-enthusiastic outsiders who favor the bizarre, aerodynamic egg shape and the Monte Carlo myth many Accepted disadvantages of the structurally antiquated car. The first car of the Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab was a respectable journeyman's piece - it was not masterful.

For this generation comparison, we have omitted the Saab veteran 96 and the straight line Saab line of succession with the numbers 99, 900 and 9000 , all as turbo versions because they are charged Engines are a Saab creed for efficiency and economy. The development of multi-cylinder engines was saved and the well-mannered turbo was created, which does a decent job but doesn't drink.

Individuality as a market niche and turbo as a creed

The Saab 99 Turbo from 1980 is a notchback model in eye-catching metallic red, the fluffy velor upholstery in tone on tone. The speedometer shows a formidable 268,437 km, of course with the first engine, as Saab Pope Johann Heuschmid from Obergünzburg will later emphasize with a casual gesture: 'A Saab can take something like that easily.' The car comes from Sweden, according to the nameplate it was built by Valmet in Finland. It bears a few signs of use with dignity, the white-framed rear lights look like they have been decorated themselves, but are standard.

With the Combi-Coupé rear, the Saab looks 99 Turbo much more dynamic, the staid understatement level comes from the early 99, its idiosyncratic but timeless shape was created by house designer Björn Envall back in 1965. If the 99 Turbo did not have the distinctive wheels in the analogue paddle wheel design, it would be mistaken for a simple Saab 99 GL.

Driving a Saab means rethinking up to the Type 9000: The bonnet opens upwards like it did at BMW the direction of travel, and the ignition lock is on the center console. The strongly rounded, narrow windshield is reminiscent of an airplane cockpit. You sit tall and upright, also in the Saab 99 Turbo, the bizarre shaped seats with long backrests offer security instead of lateral support. The narrow, compact body is no space miracle inside either. The driver's door slams shut, Saab stands for solidity and quality, the 34-year-old car knows no rust.

So wonderfully imperfect

Different is always there, different drives in the passenger seat, the Saab 99 Turbo is particularly different. The engine sounds robust and promising even above idle speed, if it weren't for the boost pressure Cyclops in view, you would stoically pull your way in a somewhat stiff front-wheel drive manner. The steering is tight and transmits the drive influences unfiltered even in the absence of a servo, other transmissions can be shifted more easily and smoothly.

If you shift into the next of the five gears in the Saab 99 Turbo at 3,000 rpm while gently accelerating, everything would still be different, but nothing particularly dynamic. Turbo is a promise, Turbo feels like gentle force, Turbo means: Now I step through.

Different with the Saab 99. Turbo can, but doesn't have to. I try to do it, feel that the charger is shoveling a tailwind at 2,000 rpm, only shift into third at 4,500 rpm, and Turbo pulls the small, relatively light car inexorably, as if on a rubber band, with vigor, but without horror. Its power delivery is reminiscent of a bourgeois three-liter six-cylinder, full of torque, and that already in the lower rev range. The Saab 99 Turbo is certainly more economical than a three-liter from BMW or Opel, because the Turbo usually runs on the back burner even when driving quickly.

Speeds up to 300,000 /min

In the engine compartment of the Saab 99 Turbo you can see the arm-thick pipes that lead to a cast worm housing; There a paddle wheel rotates at an exorbitant speed of up to 300,000 rpm, which presses the intake air into the engine. The OHC motor has a modern design for a unit from the 1970s, with a cross-flow head and direct valve actuation via bucket tappets. Saab engineers don't like timing belts,So rely on a solid chain.

Frank Herzog
Supercharging pioneer in the passenger car sector: In 1977 Saab set a trend with the 99 Turbo, that of other manufacturers was only accepted after decades.

Plus in running culture: 900 Turbo

The switch to the Saab 900 Turbo with 16-valve engine surprised: A new car, where everything seems to have stayed the same between the axles? Visually, the Saab 900 looks far more opulent, no longer filigree, but full and dignified. Inside, with the exception of the door panels, everything is newly wallpapered, more homely, more luxurious. Perfectly profiled seats, covered with fine leather, a renovated instrument panel without a Zyklop, covered in fine wood veneer.

An imposing broad-headed four-valve engine with two overhead camshafts now lives in the engine compartment, the cast block remained, the front side still faces the bulkhead. Also the idiosyncratic multi-storey construction with a separate primary drive via a three-link chain from the coupling to the gear below. Even with the 900, Saab remains quite different.

Driving feels far more sophisticated than in the Saab 99, the power steering is pleasantly direct and filters out drive influences. The carefully guided rigid axle chassis was tuned to be more comfortable. At the front it remained with angled double wishbones, which are artfully built around the drive shafts. A McPherson axle like the others would have been easier, but not as stable.

Saab designers never make it easy for themselves

Not even with the Saab 9000, which was almost finished. Delivered as Tipo 4 by the Italians for Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema and Alfa Romeo 164, the same floor pan, the same body structure. So, dear Saab people, please serve yourself, hang your engines and axles in and the luxury model above the 900 that you need so badly is ready.

But the Saab engineers have the joint venture Sheet metal found too soft for your Saab 9000 Struts and reinforcementsWelded in, especially the front end stiffened in a crash-proof manner. Only the Croma doors remain unmistakable in profile, the rear and front were given a brand-typical look by Saab designer Björn Endevall.

9000 - the completely normal Saab

The mechanically attractive and durable Saab four-cylinder, these brilliant 16-valve, suction or turbo, remained on the chain, but installed transversely. The drive now with a flange-mounted gearbox, the McPherson front axle as everywhere, but the rear four-link rigid axle with reaction triangle remained an independent Saab cultural asset.

Of course, the Saab 9000 also benefits from the proven blessings of the mainstream in its outstanding driving culture. Much of what distinguished its characterful predecessors was different, but ultimately not better. Our later 9000 CSE drives as comfortably and confidently as a younger S-Class. That is the sunny side of diminished brand identity, which also affects the gradually accepted 900 Series II on the Opel Vectra platform.

The Saab 9000 plays the role of the famous touring car, its space comfort is princely despite the rather tight wheelbase, the driving noises are always subtle. The ZF four-speed automatic works wonderfully with the high-torque little turbo, as the two-liter is often called internally. There is also a 2.3-liter with 220 hp, counter-rotating balance shafts for more smooth running. But that has never been a real reason to buy Saab fans.

Frank Herzog
The Saab 900 developed Success model - and endurance runner. It was built from 1979 to 1993.

That's how much Saab 99, Saab 900 and Saab 9000 cost

Catch we start with the Saab 99 Turbo. He is the oldest and also the most expensive of the trio. The market observer Classic-Analytics gives around 12,000 euros for a copy in state 2. In state 4, around 2,600 euros are due.

The price of the Saab 900 Turbo is significantly lower, from around 8,600 euros there are state 2 cars, from 1,600 euros moderate fours. The youngest is by far the cheapest: For around 3,700 euros there is a neat Saab 9000 in condition 2, for well under 1,000 eurosone can find drivable copies.

Frank Herzog
The Saab 9000 is not recognized by many as a' real 'Saab, but the collaboration with Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo can. But the Swedes got the most out of the concept - and the best rust protection.


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