Bargain Swede: 1984 Saab 900 Turbo

This 1984 Saab 900 is a rare four-door with the turbocharged engine option, a powerplant typically reserved for the three-door hatchback. It’s hard to tell whether this photo is staged or if it just rolled out of storage, but given the Saab resides near Rochester and the body still looks free of rust, it seems reasonable to believe it has been carefully stored and driven sparingly. Mileage is indicated to be just 107,000, which would be low for the year. Early Saab Turbos are hard cars to find in good shape, especially with four doors – and prices are on the rise. Find this rare 900 Turbo here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,900 in Trumansburg, New York.

That’s a very good price for any 900 in survivor-grade condition, but especially for a turbocharged model. The old-school details are strong on this 900, reflecting the type of buyer who might opt for a turbocharged sedan with three pedals. Note the huge OEM mudflaps and trailer hitch, a good indication that this Saab was meant to be utilitarian transport just as much as it was intended to whip along backroads. The Saab retains its original wheels and the paint appears to be in excellent condition, and the same goes for the door panels. The bumpers are the exaggerated safety appendages required in the U.S., but at least there’s no sign of color fading.

The interior is in excellent shape. The Saab comes with bucket seats up front, fortunately with manual controls to eliminate the potential of the old power motors going bad. The leather is in really nice shape, even if it has cracks from general use. Still, there’s something about used seats like these that aren’t perfect but look perfectly aged – it just seems to suggest the owner put some effort into preserving them for the long haul. This is the only photo we’re provided of the interior, but curiously, the seller does mention (and include pictures of) the cheap aftermarket subwoofer installed in the trunk, which seems to throw off the narrative that this 900 has been off the road for years.

A few months ago, I picked up my first Saab, and I’m on the verge of getting another one. The driving experience is quite addictive, especially once that turbo boost kicks in – for a four-cylinder, it’s surprisingly potent. This one is a total sleeper, too, with the two additional doors and limited badging to remind other drivers of the additional thrust under the hood. The collector car world is waking up to the desirability of vintage Saab products, and at the current price, this nicely preserved turbocharged four-door is a steal.

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Comments

  1. Brian

    I like the bench seat at the very back of the car. I forgot how big these bumpers were on this model!

    Like 2
  2. SaabGirl900

    This 900 should have the 8 valve H motor. 16 valve engine debuted in 1985. This car is quick, but not Viggen quick, which might put off some people who know nothing of Saabs. My ’83 Turbo coupe is asleep in the barn right now…..waiting for spring.

    I never cared for the four door sedan…..would much rather have the Combi 5 door that Saab stopped exporting to North America after the 1980 model year. But, this one does look nice….even with the park bench rear bumpers!

    Like 1
  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    If you notice my handle, you will see that I got out of Jeeps and in to Saabs. It was a transition I made after owning one on a flyer and gradually became the keys I grabbed on the way out the door instead of one of my last 2 SJ’s…those being a mint 401 Wagoneer and a Sportside J Truck.

    These are one of the most utilitarian joys to drive and I’ve never looked back. The 3 door versions will haul just about anything you throw into it with a 6 foot floor to seat cargo area with the back seat folded and a hatch that opens like a whale’s yawn.

    In the winter (and this is what was the final ‘nail in the Jeep coffin’ for me), put snows on all 4 corners and you will drive through anything. Couple that with a heater that will turn your eyeballs into raisins and they are the ultimate snowmobiles.

    The turbo makes a small engine zippy…and honestly, my stock configuration 9000 makes more “macho” cars cry in the corner with the amount of power it can lay down.

    But the sealer of the deal is the safety factor. I’ve got many pictures of totaled…and I mean back end and front end pushed to the glass…where the cabin is intact. There will always be a Saab in my driveway and I with a hoard of parts in the garage, I hope that to be true for a very long time

    Like 9
    • Ralph

      Agreed 100%…We grew up with SAABs in the family. I can’t tell you how many friend and other folks are still alive after being in a wreck in a SAAB. Tell me another manufacturer who put roll over protection or seatbelts in their cars BEFORE the government required them to do so… Wrecks that would have killed them in most other cars. Wish I could buy this one today.

      Like 3
  4. wasjeepnowsaab

    And before you ask, given that I paid a grand for the Wagoneer and $400 for the J Truck, yes I wish I hung onto them lol

  5. That AMC guy

    Nice old 900 at a reasonable price, but prospective buyers should be aware that transmissions are very weak on these. You can just about make out in the interior shot that it’s a manual shifter, if the trans whines in 4th and 5th gear or jumps out of gear, the pinion bearings are shot and catastrophic failure is in the near future. (Those bearings are undersized for the car, the trans was originally designed for the lighter and less powerful 99.) Pinion bearings were finally upgraded in 1989. Being an ’84 turbo this will have the 8-valve engine with K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection. Many parts are getting scarce for these early models. Looks good in the photos but check carefully underneath for rust!

    Like 5
  6. J_Paul Member

    I grew up in a Saab household — my stepfather’s first was a 1983 900 Turbo, which was then replaced by an ’89 900 Turbo SPG (and joined by at least 3 other Saabs over the years). I love these cars, though “quirky” is an understatement. A Doug DeMuro video on classic Saabs would be 15 hours long.

    One of my favorite Saab stories: the 1983 speedometer, like in many cars of the era, only went up to 85mph. Blasting down an empty interstate during a family trip, my mom says to my stepfather: “Aren’t you going a little fast?”

    My stepfather, with a straight face: “I’m only doing 85. Just look at the speedometer!”

    Me, in the back seat: just trying not to laugh.

    They may not seem like much now, but these Saab Turbos were some of the few attainable, exciting cars the early 80’s had to offer…especially ones you could fit the whole family in.

    Like 9
  7. SaabGirl900

    If you’re careful, the gearbox will last many miles. People who drive them like idiots and powershift with them will grenade the gearbox. But, if you treat the gearbox with respect, you can get hundreds of thousands of miles out of them. The box in my ’83 is original to the car as is the gearbox in my ’90 Turbo Coupe and the ’86 S.

    The Borg-Warner three speed slushbox……now that was one weak gearbox!

    And Wuzjeep……I have hauled entire rooms of furniture home in my Saabs! I would run studded snows on my 900s and my 2000 9.3 and nothing stopped them…..snow, sleet, bad drivers who thought that they could drive 80 MPH through a blizzard on an icy highway…..nothing. They are truly amazing cars, although everything but the 2002 9.3 sleeps in the barn through the winter now….

    Like 6
    • alphasud Member

      Actually we had less automatic problems than manual transmission problems. There were times when I had 3 transaxles on the workbench at a time. Beating on any transmission will cause its early demise but the 900 transaxle weakness was the pinion bearings and reverse gear. Some lasted some didn’t but in 1990 Saab increased the bearing size and those transaxles are the best shifting longest lasting. I stated this before I educated customers to first select 2nd gear before engaging reverse. You have to stop the gear stack to prevent idler gear chipping.

      Like 5
  8. Ralph

    Crap! If I could get to NY this would be sold already. BTW it’s no 14K 82 Toyota, but it is a much safer, better car in almost every way. But that price? Wow. Yeah this one is a deal, maybe even at 6-8K. Nice car.

  9. SaabGirl900

    Alphasud, you are correct, although my experience has been the autoboxes, especially those connected to turbocharged engines, failed at an alarming rate. The torque converters usually gave it up at early mileages. Autobox in my now five speed ‘vert died at 110,000 miles. I know of many people who tried shifting their 99s or C900s into reverse without first shifting into first or second……sounded like the gearbox grenaded with a loud bang! That was usually the last time they attempted to try that….

    Like 1

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