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60k Mile 1989 Saab 900 Turbo Cabriolet

When any auto manufacturer collapses, it is a sad day. When Saab finally collapsed, many people mourned this loss. This was an innovative company that produced more than its share of exciting vehicles. The 900 Turbo Cabriolet was a perfect example, and this 1989 model is a rust-free survivor that is in good order. It comes with a well-documented history and is looking for a new home. The Saab is located in Lake Forest, California, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. You can drive this car home today for $11,500. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Rex M for referring this beauty to us.

The Cabriolet is finished in Edwardian Gray Metallic with a Black convertible top. The top has only recently been replaced and appears to be in as-new condition. The owner states that the vehicle has never suffered any accident damage, and the consistency of the panel gaps would seem to support this. The Saab has spent its life in California, so it is no real surprise to learn that it is rust-free. These classics were not particularly prone to rust problems. They were designed and build primarily to cope with Swedish Winters, which can be pretty harsh. The exterior plastic has survived the California sun exceptionally well, while the original alloy wheels seem free from any stains or damage.

The Saab’s interior is upholstered in Buffalo Gray leather and generally presents quite well. There is some visible wear to the outer edge of the driver’s seat, and I would probably have this checked by a specialist before the leather wears through. The rest of the upholstery seems to be in good condition, and the pale gray carpet has survived remarkably well. There are no signs of any problems with the plastic, and no visible cracks on the dash. The original radio/cassette player has made way for a CD player, but the factory unit is in the trunk. For comfort and convenience, the Cabriolet comes equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power locks, and cruise control. The A/C compressor has recently been replaced, so it should now blow as cold as a Swedish Winter.

Saab was one of the first companies to embrace turbocharger technology in volume production cars, and this 900 is a perfect example. What we find nestling under the hood is a 1,985cc 4-cylinder engine that is equipped with fuel injection and a Garrett T3 turbocharger. This engine should be producing 158hp, which finds its way to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission. Saab’s experience with turbo technology meant that by the time this car rolled off the production line, the 900 was a reliable piece of equipment. It isn’t unusual for a well-maintained engine to clock 400,000 miles without an overhaul, while 300,000 miles for the transmission is also typical if it is treated with respect. The company swapped from oil-cooled to water-cooled turbochargers in 1988, and these updated units will last well beyond 200,000 miles if the vehicle has been properly maintained. That is where the news appears to be positive with this car. It has only clocked 60,000 miles, and it seems that this claim can be verified. Included in the sale are all of the books, along with a full service history. Recent work that is listed consists of the replacement of the rack-and-pinion, along with the radiator, hoses, and the thermostat.

When some manufacturers produce a convertible version of an existing model, the result can be a vehicle that feels soft and floppy when compared to the original model. That isn’t the case with the 900 Cabriolet, because Saab produced a car that was robust with good torsional strength. These classics are a pleasure to drive, and that turbocharged four can provide some surprising levels of performance. One of the fears that people have with Saabs is the availability of parts and spares now that the brand has disappeared. This doesn’t seem to be an issue, as most parts have remained available in recent years. The sticking point on this car could potentially be the price because it is right at the top end of what you might expect to pay for a good example. However, if the mileage and service history can be confirmed, then the price could be justified. Given the robust nature of these cars, it is a classic that has a real chance of being around for many years to come. That has to make it an interesting proposition for anyone seeking something that they would like to own on a long-term basis.


  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Saabs are interesting cars. Have 2 people I know that are into them though one is interested in selling his Saab. The only negatives I’ve heard about them is you want a good mechanic and the parts can be a little pricey.

    Like 1
  2. c900

    “These classics were not particularly prone to rust problems” is a statement that needs to be fact-checked. What takes these cars off the road is very often rust (engines keep going and going).

    Like 1
    • Ray Member

      I’ve been a Saab enthusiast for many years. That wasn’t the case with Saab.

  3. Dabig Kahuna

    Is this the Jerry Seinfeld signature model?

  4. MarveH

    I bought my first Saab last year. My wife and I flew out to Colorado for my stepdaughter’s wedding with one-way tickets intending to buy a cheap old car and drive it back. I chronicled the experience here:

    I bought a 1983 900S and that’s when I realized I was a closet Saab guy. Oh, the wasted years! I’ve done a lot of work on that car in the past year, some of it challenging, but nothing too bad. I love the fact that the cars aren’t styled, they are designed. They have a character all their own, but are extremely practical classics.

    Like 7
    • W9BAG

      I watched your videos. Just loved them. I’ve always had an affinity for the 900’s. Well designed car, and I always found the ignition placement to be a really cool feature. God bless, and enjoy. Tell your wife thank you for her service. I served 23 years. Enjoy your retirement, as well as your Saab.

      Like 3
    • Will

      I just watched your videos and enjoyed every second of them! Wonderful car you have, and I would I love to have an adventure like that myself someday soon. I’ve always wanted to buy an old car and drive it back, just trusting God and my mechanical skills to get me back home. 😉

  5. W9BAG

    I kinda did the same thing in a 1966 Pontiac Ventura. I got the car after being involved in an accident with my 1965 Chevy C-10. I actually got the car sight unseen at the wrecking yard that I had the truck towed to. I was ready to go home to Terre Haute, Indiana from Colorado Springs. The car was in really good condition, with no rust (!). The car had an electrical issue that I remedied with a standard home light switch. It was really cold out, but the car had a fantastic heater, AM radio with front & rear speakers, and good tires. It had a license plate from a ’68 Chevy wagon. Made it to Indiana with no more problems. Sold the car with over 168K miles. It was a true adventure.

    Like 4
  6. Maestro1 Member

    Adam, thank you and the finder, if Ihad the room I’d buy it.

    Adam, thank you, it’s a great buy.

  7. alphasud Member

    These were good cars and the last of the true Saab. Not bad to work on once you get your head around the drivetrain packaging. I made a living working on these cars at the dealership. The gearboxes are more fragile than described. Avoid the 3-speed auto as they are not robust and kill the character of the car. Pinion bearings are a weak spot up to 88 and reverse idler tends to get hammered when owners don’t come to a full stop and select another gear to stop the gear stack before selecting reverse. Also pay close attention to the clutch pedal fork pivot. They wear and eventually you can’t fully declutch leading to the reverse gear disaster. And as of several years ago parts are NLA.

    Like 3
  8. chrlsful

    really liked my wife’s. I maintained (repaired and did body wrk when she banged it up) it till she left the key in (ADD/ADHA?) and it was stolen. This yr might B pretty soon after the co.s did the mrkt research (saab, wolwo, the Asians) and found to stay in usa they hada go up scale to sell. Saab went bigger, more luxo and turbo (subbie went AWD) and cont to sell. The 900 was hot and the 9000 and others (viggen, aero, C, CS) were hotter!
    Only draw back was the ing. key mount…

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