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Say So Long To Our SAAB Project


The journey with my 1987 SAAB 900S has been an interesting one. At times I hated it, but there were times when I loved it too. Many of my updates were filled with negative rants about problems that had to be fixed, but they left out all the utility this Swedish workhorse provided. I truly came to understand the appeal of these tough little cars. SAAB did things a little different and unlike common belief, that is not always a bad thing. Too bad we will never see the likes of SAAB or their 900 again. This was my chance to see what they were all about and I hope that the next owner can have an enjoyable experience discovering it for themselves. So, with mixed emotions we say farewell.


This old SAAB filled its hauler role nicely while in my ownership. We were able to load up the contents of my entire shop, haul around a twin mattress and box spring, and even cram a fully assembled grill in the back. After sorting out some irritants, it made for a comfortable cruiser. The AC blew cold and the heater was nice and hot. The fan did squeal and if you set it too high, it would shut the little vents on the dash. If you go back and read the past features, you will learn that a lot of problems inside were addressed with a few trips to junkyard. The trip meter and odometer still don’t work, but besides the cracked dash, the interior is in decent shape. The seats are still firm and headliner is not sagging.


This is actually the first car in which I could not fully engage the clutch with the seat pushed all the way back! I’m a tall guy and even though this car appears small from the outside, there is actually quite a lot of room inside. My son’s huge car seat fit nicely in the back and I could totally see a family using one of these as their only car. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to attempt that with a 27 year old car today because it is bound to need repairs every once in a while. People are now accustomed to cars that don’t need any maintenance for tens of thousands of miles. There are still lots of little projects to be done here though. I focused on getting the engine running smoothly, but it could still use some new motor mounts to tighten everything up.


After replacing a few sensors and throwing a new coil in it, the 16 valve engine now runs great. It starts right up and has plenty of power. The transmission seems to work fine too although I’m not a fan of the sloppy shift pattern. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s not too bad. I did change the oil in the engine and transmission, but replacing the brake fluid and coolant wouldn’t be a bad idea for the next caretaker. I’d probably replace some of the rubber hoses while I had it drained just as a preventative measure. I did replace the vacuum hoses on the top of the engine, but didn’t get to the rest of the rubber. The brakes will probably need gone through in the near future too.


As long as they keep up on the maintenance, this 900 should provide the next owner with years of service. It has been fun to learn more about the engineering that went into these cars. It is easy to see why they had such a cult following. Most people don’t understand them today, but they really aren’t bad cars. I probably won’t be buying another used one anytime soon, but I don’t regret picking up this one. I did learn a lot about multimeters and how to test sensors with this one! Below you will find a breakdown of my expenses. Obviously after adding in sales tax, time, and supplies, I didn’t make a penny. You can’t complain when you breakeven on a car though because it means that you just drove it for six months for free!

Purchase Price: $1,600
Junkyard Parts: $100
Ignition Coil: $57
Knock Sensor: $29
Starter $87

Selling Price: $1,900

Total Profit: $27

Now with a little cash burning a hole in my pocket, I’m on the lookout for our next project car! Please let us know if you have any suggestions of what you think we should get next. Also, be sure to send in your own project updates to help us all get motivated enough to get off the computer and into the garage!

Latest Project Updates


  1. Andamo

    We bought a new 900S in 1987 and we loved that little tank. The first winter we put Gislaveds snows all the way around and it was unstoppable in the snow. In 1991 we bought another new 900S and the ’87 became mine. The ’91 wasn’t near the same as the ’87 and after the warranty was over it turned into the Exxon Valdez. I always felt safe in them though and they were built right. Shame GM had to come along and muck them up like everything else they do.

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  2. jim s

    i hope the new owner will keep us update on the car. for the next project maybe a full size pickup, basic bare bones 2WD with no extras. this project was both interesting and fun.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Actually I have been looking around at some old Fords on craigslist this week. It’s almost creepy how much we think alike Jim! You predicted the Miata purchase before it was even announced on the site. I’m working on a deal right now for another project, so lets hear your guess of what it might be…

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      • jim s

        i will say either Falcon, Fiesta or F series truck.

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  3. Dolphin Member

    Being up $114 doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s way better than probably 99% of peoples’ profit/loss statements with their cars. Of course Jesse didn’t pay himself much for his labor, but who cares? A profit is still a profit in a sea of losses. And that doesn’t even count the interest and pointers we got on BF from this saga. Well done.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Oops, I forgot about the starter! That decimates the profits, but truthfully I am happy with how things turned out. I didn’t go into this one with hopes of making money, so I’m just happy to have not lost more!

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  4. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Jesse, currently major auto manufacturers are touting safety & performance features SAAB presented some 4 decades ago. They love to sell themselves on those strong points. We see the fruits of SAAB’s efforts every day.

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  5. Brian

    I’d say a break even sale on an 80’s cars, certain models withstanding (Fox Mustang GTs, Buick Grand Nationals, etc.), is a success! You have proven that purchasing and repairing an 80s car is a doable undertaking, the cost and value of doing it will remain in the eye … and heart … of the buyer! Your challanges in getting and keeping it running only prove that the freshman class of antique cars present a different set of problem than those cars of the 1940s -1970s. Heavy rust and panel repair and panel replacement are (for now) replaced with electrical gremlins and maneuvering between tight spaces to get the job done, but all just prove the same concept, cars were never designed and built to last as long as these cars have and its a credit to their engineers and manufacturers that they still exist twenty-five years or more after they left the factory. Some may just call all of the 80s machines plastic junk, but keep in mind that some old timers in the mid 1970s watched people restore ’55-57 Chevs and wondered why they were wasting their time on that junk when they could be restoring a nice Model T!

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  6. Ola

    You should have bought a Toppola for your 900!! look at “toppola.com”!!

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Agreed! Those are very cool.

      Like 0

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