Sweet Swede Survivor: 1990 Saab 900 S

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The Saab 900 was an evolution of the Saab 99, which was an evolution of the Saab 90. The company made the 900 for two decades, beginning in the spring of 1978 for the 1979 model year, until 1998, over two generations. The seller has this red beauty listed here on eBay in Sacramento, California and the current bid price is $3,150, but the reserve isn’t met yet.

It’s hard to beat this notchback design for me in any car: Saab, Chevy Vega, whatever. I like hatchbacks but I prefer the notchback style. We’ll probably lose 75% of readers once they see the opening photo showing that this is, gasp, a four-door sedan, too. That’s ok, we all like what we like. I like a four-door Saab, it’s what a professor may have driven, or someone else sensible and concerned with safety and utility, while still wanting a car that was a little different.

The seller bought this car in March of 2021 from a long-term owner who owned it for 25 years, which works out to be back in 1996. 25 years is a long time to own any vehicle. I’ve owned motorcycles that long and one car, but that’s it. For being 33 years old now, this Saab 900 sure appears to be in nice condition, something that would never happen if it would have been from the upper Midwest. It’d be a rusty bomb by now, probably in a junkyard somewhere. This car has zero rust.

The beautiful Cherry Red paint and Sierra Tan interior are a great combo, and both look outstanding to me. I don’t really see a flaw inside or out. Although, the interior photos are a bit disappointing. They don’t show anything from the driver’s side of the car and they’re mostly detailed photos, which makes no sense. But, they also don’t show a view of the back of the car other than the previous photo, but nothing that shows the entire rear of the car. Sadly, 2023 will most likely turn out to be a mixed bag as far as photo quality goes, yet again.

The engine is Saab’s 2.0-liter DOHC inline-four, which would have been factory-rated at 128 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque when new. There has been a lot of maintenance done on this one, but there is still some tinkering to do, things like a power steering leak, the odometer is stuck, the backup lights aren’t working, etc. Have any of you owned a Saab 900? Any thoughts on this one?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. angliagt angliagtMember

    Even better than a manual transmission,they had a better
    anti-theft device – the key lock was under the parking brake.

    Like 4
    • CarNutDan

      It was the ignition in that location.

      Like 0
  2. alphasudMember

    I think my Australian Shepard could take better pictures. From what I could gather the dash looks to be crack free which is a rare thing for the 900 drivers seat has some leather issues but leather in these were not very robust. What this tells me is this car has been garage kept most of its life. When I worked on these cars there were 2 camps of people who owned them. Enthusiasts and frugal type. This was/ is enthusiast owned. Bilstein shocks is a clue to type of ownership. 4 door 900’s nice but nowhere as versatile at the hatchbacks. With those you got a people hauler, station wagon, camper all in one. The true Swiss Army knife of cars.
    Steering leaks used to be the return hose from the pump to reservoir. Steering racks not so much but at this age anything is possible. Pump and rack supplied by Saganaw so no esoteric stuff here. 2.0 16V good engine. Timing chains, and head gaskets were things to look out for. Transaxle was sorted by 1990. Someone is going to hopefully own a nice car if reserve is met.

    Like 8
  3. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Auction update: the seller ended this auction early, someone must have grabbed it, or it wasn’t getting close to what they wanted to get for it?

    Like 2
  4. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Just as a matter of correction, the 99 was *not* and evolution of the 90. The 99 was a completely new vehicle design as Saab was moving away from the 95-96-Sonett series. The 90 was a car sold in Europe that was a sort of meld of the 99 and 900…I call them “Mullet Saabs” lol

    Like 5
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Ha, mullet!
      Thanks for the correction, sir.

      Like 0
    • Beyfon

      Yup, when the 900 was moving a bit upmarket Saab introduced the 90 which was the 99 front and 900 sedan rear. At least in Sweden I don’t think the 90 was sold to anyone under 70 as it was the ultimate Geezer-mobile. Which then made it the perfect forgotten used car. Cheap, and usually in perfect condition. The 900 started getting a bit heavy, but these 16 valve engines were pretty sweet both in the 2.1 and 2.3 variants. I think my favorite Saab ever owned was a blue -72 99 4-door sedan. Absolutely spotless original condition inside and out. Hubcaps are thin chrome bumpers. But it had got a 2.3 16v and 5-speed transplant. Lovely car to drive.

      Like 1
  5. Fred

    I have a love-hate relationship with Saabs. While in college in 1989 I bought a 1983 900 much like this one. 60,000 miles, $5,200. It was the most comfortable car I have ever owned. Even my modern car doesn’t have the ergonomics of the Saab. And they are beautiful. And it was so much fun to drive. But in 9 months it left me stranded three times and I sold it with 70,000 after spending about $3,000 in repairs, and I sold it for just $2,600. And that’s all 1989 money.

    Like 2
  6. Martin Horrocks

    As you describe, Beyfon, my dad’s last car was a 90, a rare car in UK but a 2 door notchback design. I liked it more than his previous 99 sedan and hatchback but it was no fireball. None of them were, but I find myself attracted to 3 door 900i as I head towards 70, so an age thing….

    Updating the front and rear was a SAAB thing, wasn’t it? From 92 to 96 via 93, they changed, front, then rear, then front again.

    All nice cars in their way.

    Like 1
  7. charlieMember

    The ’94’s, except the convertible, the 900’s, later called 9-3’s were the first mostly GM cars, they were Opels, the V6 was Opel designed but British made, bought ours new, the week they arrived in the US, went 230,000 miles before the clutch was almost toast, a front spring broke, it needed a new exhaust, and rust was eating away at the floor pans and one rear fender. Engine was still fine, rocker covers never off, transmission was fine. Was geared too low for great gas milage, 2500 rpm at 70 mph, but it was sporty, great in snow, wife’s favorite car ever, including her first, a ’69 Camaro, and the current Audi and dozens in between. Independant garage gave us $500 and used it as a parts car for a few years. Saab pioneered the submarining engine, in the 99 in a front end crash it slid under the body, friends survived a head-on in one at high speed thanks to that design feature.

    Like 1
  8. MarveH

    My fair weather daily is a 1983 900S and I have an 89 Turbo project car. I came to SAAB later in life, such a shame because they are brilliant. They have a feel unlike any other car, the handling is unique soft yet fun and competent at the same time. It’s a car I Iook for excuses to drive and take the long way home from any errand.

    Like 1
  9. luckless pedestrian

    Had two of these back in the day… owned them back to back. Only got rid of them when they started to rust. Great, great cars… Had the most comfortable drivers seat of anything I’ve owned. With the 3 door you put the rear seat down and had massive hauling ability. It was amazing what I was able to stuff in there. Charmingly quirky. Nothing like them available today.
    Wish they still made them.

    Like 1
  10. Charles R. Wirt

    I now own 4: a ’77 5-door, 4-speed, versatile to load about anything from any direction, driven all over the East Coast. Too bad they didn’t offer the 5-door 900’s over here. A ’84 3-door turbo 5-speed, most fun. A ’93 3-door, A.T., OK, for the GF to drive, & a ’89 5-speed turbo Convert. Don’t drive them much, am ’74, wish to roll back the calendar. Toyota Camry not near as much fun.

    Like 0
  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. I remember when the Saab 900 looked like this. At the time, I didn’t find it attractive.

    Like 0
  12. SaabGirl900

    Great write up Scotty! I have 5 C900s…..an ’83 900T, an ’86 900S, an ’88 SPG, a ’90 900T and a ’90 900T convertible.

    Very nice car, but the four door notchback was never my favourite…….I’m partial to the five door, available in North America in 1979 and 1980 only. This is an S, so she’s not exactly hot off of the line, but with the taller gears, she has a lot of torque. Except for the ‘vert, all of my Saabs are hatchbacks and, as Luckless mentions, you can haul a lot of stuff in the back, seat up or seat down. I’ve hauled rooms of furniture in mine.

    Someone got a great car at probably not a ton of money!

    Like 1
  13. Chris_Thai

    Had one of these 20 years ago – manual turbo – had 2 replacement clutches ….. the last clutch failed in North Sydney at night ….. then I drove it about 100 miles to Newcastle with no clutch – some crashing of gears… but made it to the mechanics – touch and go …. had my son aboard and he was amazed that we made it …. Good Times …. !! But the car was great other that the clutch failures ….. smooth, comfortable and very economical …..

    Like 0
  14. CarNutDan

    These are great cars my parents had a 1986 900s sedan in this same color combo and also a crayola crayon green 1978 99GL coupe and i prefer these to the 900 hatchback style of this era. These were unique with ignnition location safety features and more.

    Like 0
  15. SaabGirl900

    Charles Wirt–

    Is your ’77 a four speed or an autobox? I have a ’77 five door in Dorado brown….Cocoa is an automatic (hate that Borg-Warner 3 speed, but it’s hard to kill). She is more for around town cruising……that gearbox needed an additional gear. At highway speeds, the roar is deafening and your ears ring for an hour after the trip.

    The five door 900 did cross the pond in 1979 and 1980…..I had an ’80 that I was planning to restore until I realized that the body was too far gone to save. I have a friend who has a ’79 900 five door that he’s been tinkering with for almost 10 years now.

    Great cars…….I have 11 that run, sort of run and will run only after a large cash infusion…….

    Like 0
  16. luckless pedestrian

    Have driven Saabs for 30+ years… Multiple 900 classics, 9000, 9-5, 9-3…
    Unfortunately, today I’m down to a 9-7 Trollblazer (rebadged, Ohio built, Trailblazer) bought to tow a boat. But aside from the between-the-seat key location there’s virtually nothing Saab about it… well, there is also that silly articulating coffee holder yanked from the 9-5. I miss Saab.

    Like 0

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