General Motors underpinnings mean second generation Saab 900s have less of a following. But interest is growing, says RICHARD GUNN
General Motors’ financial stake in Saab from 1989 onwards was bound to bring profound changes for the Swedish manufacturer that prided itself on quality and quirkiness. The ‘new generation’ 900used the Opel Vectra/Vauxhall Cavalier platform underneath a body that aped the previous incarnation’s distinctive wedge shape, but updated it for the 1990s. However, quality suffered as did charisma, leading to GM tweaking the car in 1998 and renaming it the 9-3.
Saab 900 2.5 V6
Power (bhp@rpm) 168bhp@6000rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 168lb ft@4200rpm
Top speed 130mph
Gearbox 5-spd manual/4-spd automatic
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Rust isn’t usually a major issue with these cars, but when corrosion does strike, it will usually be around the rear arches. Rear chassis legs, going over the rear axle assembly and then by the rear dampers, should also be investigated for grot. The drain holes in doors will cause tinworm to blossom around the bottom of these panels if they become blocked. Brake pipes underneath also tend to go a bit crusty, and also scrutinise around the suspension struts.
Several engines were used. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder 16-valve petrol engines are carried over from the original 900 and are very tough and long-lived, assuming proper oil changes and good quality coolant. Every six months or 6000 miles for oil changes is a safe figure, especially on the harder-worked Turbos. The GM 2.5 V6 petrol engine is pretty resilient too, but also needs regular and proper maintenance and isn’t so easy to work on. Look for evidence of the cambelt being changed – the 2.0-litre has a chain.
All the gearboxes are GM units and not known for going wrong, outside of the usual high mileage maladies of worn synchromesh and noise. If the gearchange stop has problems, it could stop fifth gear being engaged. Automatics are similarly okay, assuming 60,000 oil and filter changes, but steer clear of the Sensonic models – parts for these clutchless manuals are rare and expensive.
The leatherwork was carried out to a high standard and thus lasts well, but cloth seats can wear on well-used examples, especially around the driver’s bolsters. Try out all the electrics and make sure the Saab Information Display (SID) and ‘Black Panel’ night illumination features on S and SE models work as they should. Also make sure the cold and hot settings in the heater function properly too.
The main reason for buying one of these, is that they’re currently very cheap and you do get a lot of car for your cash, especially if you find a higher-specced example with all the goodies. Best of all are the very stylish convertibles. Find one with little scuttle shake and you’ll enjoy
al fresco four-seater motoring at budget prices.