First-Year Flatnose: 1986 Saab 900 Convertible

By Nathan Avots-Smith

Here’s a case of a seller who perhaps doesn’t really know what he has. This is one of just 400 Saab 900 Turbo convertibles built for the 1986 model year, the legendary droptop’s first, and the only year based on the pre-facelift “flatnose” body, yet no mention is made of its rarity (and the inline four is misidentified as a V6). It’s in need of a little cosmetic TLC, but with an asking price of just $2,000, it could be a great buy for a fan of rare Saabs. If that’s you, head over to Denver craigslist to check it out—but be warned, there’s not much detail in the ad.

In addition to the, er, “custom bodywork” on the driver’s side, the cloth top is looking a little worn. The droptop conversion was designed by American Sunroof Corp. at the request of Saab’s American office, based on the rarely-seen two-door sedan version of the 900; all 400 1986 convertibles were sold in the U.S., and it’s thought that most were silver, like this one. Despite little initial promotion, sales quickly took off; by late 1986, Saab dealers were already taking orders for 1989 model-year convertibles, even with a $6,000 price premium over an equivalent 900 Turbo hatchback.

Inside, as outside, this 900 shows some minor needs, but solid bones. Curiously, the passenger seat shows the kind of wear more common on the more heavily used driver’s perch; perhaps the driver’s seat has been re-stuffed or replaced, because it looks nice and plump—and those Saab seats are supremely comfortable.

Mileage goes undisclosed, but a sharp eye on this photo shows a “1” in the first spot on the six-digit odometer, and maybe a “5,” “6,” or “8” in the second spot (hey, I never said my eyes were sharp). If the odometer hasn’t given up—which is entirely possible—that kind of mileage is nothing much to worry about on one of these Saabs, as long as maintenance has been kept up. Other than saying it “runs great!”, though, the ad doesn’t give us much clue about maintenance. Nor are there any photos of the engine compartment or the underside, so there are a lot of unknowns about this car. Still, $2,000 isn’t too high, and this is an historically significant car for fans of the marque. I’d say it’s worth a careful look; what do you think?

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Comments

  1. LAB3

    Owned an ’87 900 for awhile, not a bad little car overall. Very comfortable ride, easy to work on and a decent amount of power for a four cylinder. The price of parts and lack of any in the nearby junkyards had me selling it.

    1+
    • 86 Vette Convertible

      I hear you on the cost of repairs. A friend had one of around that timeframe and had a turbo problem. The cost to fix it at a non-dealer shop exceeded the value of the car. Think he sold it shortly thereafter.

      0
  2. John T

    My eyes are also not sharp at all, but using the zoom feature on my tablet allows me to take a stab at the odometer reading as 165,072 and the trip odometer 432. I do not know enough about Saabs to know how much they are worth but I do know that at least in Massachusetts there is an extremely loyal following for this make. I frequently see them for sale needing work which could provide needed parts.

    1+
  3. Greg

    Fantastic cars (until GM got a hold of them)! I bought a used one in the 90’s, driving all around San Diego when I lived there. Like my old Volvo 242GT, they are solid, well built, fun to drive, and expensive to fix. But I think it’s well worth it! I’d love to grab this one.

    0
  4. rane

    Saab Cabriolet/Convertible made in Finland.

    1+
  5. Fogline

    I have one of these with 38,000 miles on it. A pleasure to drive. We are the third owners rarely putting it out on the road. I really like the flat nose look better.

    All were silver ( mine was resprayed back when the Monte Carlo Yellow came out by the original owner). Each dealer got one, is how the story goes. They are fairly heavy feeling on the road but with enough pep when the turbo kicks in to be quite fun still while rolling down the highway at 75 feeling like you are riding on a magic carpet.

    3+
  6. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Steep price for the amount of work this one needs. Needs a top asap. Repairing the body damage is not an easy task…fenders are welded to the inner fender and getting at the ‘pocket’ between the front wheel and a pillar is no cake walk. The damage in the rear 1/4 will also be a job because of the reinforcement “bulk head” that Saab welded in ed to stiffen the body B202 engines on these will go for 400K + as long as they are cared for with regular maintenance.

    2+
  7. West Slope

    Word is this car is pretty rough. Apparently the drivers side took a pretty big hit and the front fender is pushed in under the hood. This car is going to need a really good body shop as the fenders are welded on!

    0
  8. Melvin Burwell

    SAAB!! Put another engine in.

    0

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