Stunning Swede: 1988 Saab 900 SPG

Even though Saab hasn’t really been making new cars for a decade (they’ve been bought and resold several times, restructured, and are essentially electric cars made in China, search online for Saab NEVS), in the 1980s and 1990s Saab made some excellent cars. Those were the years when they became a bit more mainstream, between the quirkiness of the 1960s and 1970s, and before the eventual homologation with GM in early 2000s. This 1988 Saab 900 SPG is one of the best examples of styling and performance by Saab. It’s in excellent condition and is up for sale here on eBay with a “Buy It Now” price of $58,500. That’s a lot of cash, but I have no doubt it will sell, since people love these cars.

Saab never had big engines, but they focused on exciting cars with great handling and turbos, one of the first manufacturers to really into that as a primary technology. This 900 SPG had a simple 16v 2.0L engine, but with the Garrett turbo it puts out 175hp and 201lb-ft of torque, giving an 7.6 second 0-60mph time.  The engine is located under a front-hinged hood, and looks very clean. It’s paired to a five-speed manual transmission, which should really help maximize the performance of the engine since it’s easier to keep it in peak boost range.

The exterior styling is crisp and clean, with the associated SPG (Special Performance Group) body kit. The dark gray color is still shiny and not faded, and is a nice accent to the black paint. Speaking of which, I’ve always thought Saabs look fantastic in black, although that is certainly one of the harder colors to keep looking good over time. The photos from far away make the paint appear flawless, but some of the close-ups show some small chips and hazing. That’s normal for a black 30+ year old car, but hopefully it could be polished out. Other than that, there really don’t appear to be any flaws with the exterior. Even the rear spoiler, which is made out of a dense foam, looks to be in good shape without any cracks. The seller mentions the addition of NOS Aero wheels, which look much better than the stock SPG wheels, although they are also included with the car.

The interior of this Saab is also in fantastic condition. No cracks, tears, stains, or damage that I could see in the photos. However, the seller says that the headliner needs to be re-glued around the sunroof, and the automatic seatbelts don’t function at the moment.  I once heard Saab interiors described (both for the 900 and the larger 9000) as “things aren’t where you’d expect them, but they’re where they should be.” For example, the ignition and window switches are located between the seats, instead of the steering column and doors. Same with the sunroof button. I’ve owned a 1991 9000, and this 900 has the same seats which are very comfortable, and also heated. Also, the rear defrost button activates the heated mirrors, which is awesome in cold climates. It appears to have the original head units installed – these Clarion units with equalizers put out some great sound, actually. You’ll also notice the additional gauges in the center console, though I’m not able to read all of them. The dash has coolant temp, rpms, and boost, so I’ll assume alternator output, oil pressure, and 1 other – any other Saab fans own an SPG and know what it could be?


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  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    lol…this car is the subject of a LOT of discussion in Saab forums and groups. It was listed within a couple days of the infamous BaT SPG that somehow finished with a $50,000 end.

    Like 5
  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    @Nick, the gauges generally cater to what the user wants. I’ve seen voltmeter, ammeter, boost pressure, water temp, oil pressure, and just about anything really because the openings take any number of standard vdo gauges

    Also, the key in the center was a 99 feature carried through to the 900, and then retained through the ng900, og9-3 and final 9-3. The 9000 on the other hande was a collaboration between Fiat Lancia, Saab and Alfa Romeo and the others wanted the ignition in the more traditional steering column location.

    The radio location, another 99 carried through the 900 design, was to keep the eyes of the drivers on the road rather than looking down. A lot of people who have installed the auxiliary gauges actually relocate the radios to the lower part of the cockpit – where the eBay SPG has his gauges – and install the gauge pak in the old radio location

    Like 2
    • Derek

      The centre key had a gear interlock, too; you couldn’t extract the key unless the car (manual gearbox) was in reverse gear.

      I don’t know about how they dealt with automatics.

      Like 5
  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    And one more thing re the gauges, the Saab “catalogue” auxiliary gauges were delivered with oil pressure, water temperature and voltmeter.

    Like 2
  4. wuzjeepnowsaab

    The reason the ignition in the 99 and 900 was where it was was yet another of the Saab engineering safety features. With the key between the seats there was no way to bury it in your knee in the event of an accident. Everything that went into the design of these cars had an eye toward safety.

    Like 9
    • SebastianX1/9

      All the more reason not to like it! “Safety First” is the origin of totalitarianism.

      Like 4
      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        LOL! Ok @SebastianX1/9

        I think you should readjust your tin foil hat

        Like 1
  5. Bick Banter

    I’m amazed this is now north of 27k in bidding. With three days to go. Wow. Saab enthusiasts are pretty loyal, but also very cheap. It’s rare to see any 900, even an SPG, go into the 5 figures. This one may fall hard once the market corrects.

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      @Bick, prices on classic 900’s have been climbing steadily for the last 5 years. Cars that I used to pay a grand for are north of 3. Pristine examples of the rare models…SPG’s, MCY’s, SE verts, have been 5 figures for quite a while

      Like 2
      • Bick Banter

        Maybe times have changed but my Volvo 850R wagon was an absolute nightmare to sell back in 2015. I lost a ton of money because I didn’t buy the car, and subsequently fix it up, looking at it in the way a Volvo enthusiast would. Saabs draw a similar type of enthusiast.

        My guess is the roaring economy over the last few years brought non-Saab enthusiasts into the 900 game. Whether that lasts or not will remain to be seen.

  6. Rick

    First time I actually got in one of these was as a valet parker at a country club. I searched for 5 minutes to find the key slot. When I did I thought to myself – what a stupid place to put that. All kinds of crap can fall in that slot (liquids, dirt, etc)… My opinion hasn’t changed despite loving the looks of the car.

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      @Rick, the ignition can be a catcher of things but that said, I’ve almost never encountered an ignition barrel that was gummed up from things being spilled. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone actually having something liquid anywhere close to the ignition barrel. Dust, yes but that’s really about it.

      Like 2
  7. Ron Ron

    It’s a nice looking car, but $58,500? Forget about it! Not criticizing you, so good luck. There’s a used Saab dealership near me, and there was a similar one for around 3k two door convertible!

  8. Christopher Gush

    A classic example of sellers thinking their car is worth more than it actually is. Come on… really? Common sense would dictate at $50K+ the seller would minimally remove the headliner shell and repair the headliner , as well as the seat belts which although are a pain in the derriere provide safety. This is the less desireable engine from the standpoint the turbocharger has yet to be water cooled, a feature compliments of the Japanese engineers. Early failures are to be expected. Nice car for what it is, but the current bid as of this writing is too far North of what it is really worth.

    Like 1
  9. ADM

    I dove a friend’s ’89 SPG. It was a great car with that smooth, satisfying turbo pull.

  10. SaabGirl900

    Actually, Christopher, the turbocharger was indeed watercooled. Saab went to a watercooled version of the Garrett TC in 1988.

    I have an ’88 SPG in Edwardian grey that, regrettably, has been attacked by the tinworm. Edwina has nearly 400K on her chassis and no front floors. Someday, I hope to have her welded back together again and on the road.

    The SPG is the uber Saab……if you’re going to have a C900, then the SPG is the one to have, I don’t think the car is worth $58K, but then, the car hobby has gotten pretty nuts lately. Convertibles, especially those in pristine condition are also hot commodities.

    I’m sure the car will sell, but not at the price that the seller thinks that he is going to get. It’s one of the 100 black SPGs sent over for 1988 (Saab built about 1400 of them in 1988….most of any year) and 1300 were Edwardian.

    I hope whoever buys the car knows how to service a Saab or has a good Saab tech in the wings……..not everyone can jump in and repair or maintain these cars, especially the Classics.

    Like 2
  11. Lance

    $58,500? With nearly 160k miles on it. No chance, and I’m a Saab enthusiast. I’ve owned and built up several, including an ’83 900. I like them, but no way is this car worth what the owner is asking. Good luck.

    Like 1
  12. Mike Ehrmantraut

    I’d be very scared to be involved with that car for very long, if at all. The thought of repairs makes me cringe and my wallet run off and hide in fear. Cool car if it were new and under warranty but I wouldn’t have guessed this for more than a few grand at any auction.

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