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Cheap Hot Hatch: 1984 Saab 900 Turbo

When you sit around lamenting the rising price of enthusiast vehicles (like me), you can spiral around a whirlpool of despair – until you see a listing that reminds you deals for good cars are still out there, provided you get off your duff and hustle the negotiations along. This 1984 Saab 900 Turbo is a great example of a model that is taking off price-wise at the moment but can still be had cheaply if you’re willing to buy a project. The turbocharged hot hatchback is listed here on craigslist as a non-runner for $1,800 in San Diego. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find. 

As someone who is prepping a 1991 Saab 900 Turbo SE convertible for sale at the moment, I’ve been watching the sale prices over the last few months. It seems like collectors have woken up to the fact that these are excellent starter classics and that the claims about the lack of spare parts availability are greatly overblown. I’ve found in the past few years that despite Saabs going out of production, the enthusiast following is so strong for these cars that almost every spare part you may need is still possible to find after a few minutes on a forum or in a social network. The seller’s car doesn’t run, so you may need to tap into that network sooner than later.

I will admit: I like my Saab, but I don’t love it. I’m accustomed to rear-wheel drive, naturally-aspirated six-cylinder cars. The turbocharged four-cylinder is definitely fun to drive, and it doesn’t feel like a front-driver; I’m just not a fan of turbocharging or four-cylinders, so the combination didn’t light my heart on fire. But there is the potential to unlock more power through some very simple computer tuning and you can have a legitimate road rocket on your hands in short order. The seller’s car did run a few months ago and still turns over, but he isn’t sure why it won’t fire up at the moment, so it will need to be towed.

The interior is in very nice condition despite having 121,000 miles on the clock, but he does note the headliner needs some love. The classic three-spoke steering wheel was a stable of the turbocharged models, as is the tall shifter that sits close to the trademark center console ignition. The cloth seats may not be as desirable as leather buckets, but the Saab cloth is generally very durable and will likely look better after years of neglect than a leather-equipped model. The price is right for this turbocharged Saab and I have a feeling the seller would wheel and deal even more if you showed up with a trailer and the cash.

Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Deleted already.

    Like 2
    • Tony Primo

      Not very surprising at that price. Someone got a nice project.

      Like 5
  2. Fogline

    Yes – Too bad it is gone already. Would like to have seen more pics as it appears to be in good shape. I think the paint was pre- clear coat and appears to be in good shape. This would have had the 8 valve in it, which is fun, and I like the cloth interior as they seem to hold up better than the leather. Good find!

    Like 4
  3. Greg

    Do I remember correctly the engine is in reverse position and dual fuel pumps that must both be replaced simultaneously- why did my daughters Saab mechanic have a waterfront home?

    Like 1
  4. Martin Horrocks

    These look great now when I see them in traffic. And as a similar car starred in an Oscar-winning film last month, someone got a bargain….hopefully!

    Like 1
  5. FireAxeGXP

    Someone watched the oscar woke show?
    I had an 83 one of these and I LOVED it. The father of my tall chestnut haired gorgeous neighbour sold hers to me for 800 bucks in 1989. She had rolled it while drunk so the roof had some bondo in it. We rattle can painted it flat black put some fat tires on it and it rocked. The front grill had been “lost” after the after the wreck but I found it when swapping the tires. Sprayed the TURBO badge back to gold. Of all the cars I wish I still had I miss this the most. By a lot.

    Like 1
  6. SaabGirl 900

    Greg–

    Yes. The front of the engine is at the firewall and the back of the engine is at the grille. You do not have to pull the engine and gearbox to replace the clutch…the clutch cover comes off, replace the clutch and you’re done.

    I do not believe that this car would have dual fuel pumps……perhaps the really early C900s. My ’83 has only one pump living in her tank.

    Saab did not clearcoat flat colours…….the only colours that got clearcloat were the metallic hues…….Edwardian grey, Beryl green, Nova black, but this car is cherry red…….no clear coat. Also missing nomenclature off of the rear deck……the only way you know the car is a 900 Turbo is to look at the dash.

    Probably something simple failed…the wiring harnesses in these cars were frail and the cars practically ran on vacuum…lose a vacuum hose and it’s a short trip to the breakdown lane.

    Nice car! Good thing it’s not on the East Coast or I would have been adding a twelfth Saab to the fleet!

    Like 4

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