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Beige Saab Appreciation Society – 1984-87 Saab 90

“Find me a Saab 90”,  said the esteemed A. Kierstein in a recent conversation, “and you’ll be a legend.” Challenge accepted.

Old Swedish cars are rife in my region, and I was certain it wasn’t going to be difficult to find one in as perfect condition as one can imagine. Saab 90:s have always been sort of old geezers’ cars, well-kept, garaged and all – cars one would buy in the mid-’80s if one were certain it would be the last new car to buy.

So, when I chanced upon this prosthetics beige Saab in near-flawless condition, I was sure to document it detailedly.

Across the street from an old leather goods factory, the Saab sat parked on a very snowy lot. The beige paint matched the buildings, with the undeniably duck-like lines accentuated by slowly fallen snow. It’s a strange bird indeed, the 90; on a napkin sketch the front section of the 99 was married to the back end of a 900, to build a new entry-level model with better passenger compartment design but keeping the mechanicals unchanged.

The 90, like the 99, was powered by the 100hp 2.0-litre H engine. The only option you could have was the choice of four or five speed gearbox. Oh, the bliss it must have been to visit the parts store counter.

Looking at the tail of the 90/900, it always takes me a while to realize how low the taillights actually are. Remove the bumper and the lights are pretty much the lowest part on the rear of the car.

Same goes for the front, the line from the fender corner just rises up to meet the leading edge of the hood – with the bill-like bumper perched on.

Headlight wipers, too. Front emblem has lost the paint, as it always does on Saabs. No exception.

I’m sure it’s alright to park by feel, especially when it’s as snowy as it’s here now.

Same goes for the rear, really; there’s no need for parking sensors with the springboard bumper is of this size and heft.

Saab from Finland. Proudly built in Uusikaupunki. I never fail to mention it’s the plant where they nowadays assemble the Fisker Karma, do I?

There’s the extent of rust on this car. Fuel filler lid and a little bit on the rear wheelarch. Otherwise – perfect. My gut instinct says this car has done less than 150 000 km, maybe less than 100k.

Snapping photos, I noticed a facelift 9-5 passing by.

How do you find this Saab that lurketh, hiding from the tin worm; is it 900 enough or 99 enough, or best of both worlds?


Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen

  • Hopman4

    Find me an ORANGE 900 & you'll be a god in my book!

    My dad had one when I was little (non-turbo, 4-spd stick, orange outside with a "creamsickle orange & white interior.) My dad LOVED it until it rusted out!

  • An impressive find and it looks to be a nice specimen, but I'm still holding out for a Saab-Lancia 600 before I'll go along with "legend" status. To demonstrate how reasonable I can be, it wouldn't even need to have a trailer hitch.

    • So, with a trailer hitch, what would it be?

      • A tow vehicle that would put my own feeble efforts to shame.

    • randomusername

      Thanks, never knew such a thing even existed. Almost all sources are about the Delta, with a brief mention of it also being sold as the Saab-Lancia 600 in Sweden and possible Norway and / or Finland, depending on the source.

      Found this from Sweden. Someone has seen one in Umeå last november, possibly running, missing the grille. And someone mentions an ad for one driven only a few thousand miles, but the ad was mysteriously gone the next day. http://bilspanaren.blogspot.com/2011/11/skrot-pa-

      • julkinen

        Note, "5000 mil" = 50 000 km. Swedes have that interesting way of marking distances.

        • ConradBonHonk

          Also known as the superior way.

          • Hey, you're right! It is used in Norway!

      • FuzzyPlushroom

        The Volvos are totally salvageable, and likely the 95 as well. The 600? Terrifying.

  • What are the Saab badges painted with? Watercolors?

    • Griffin blood. I thought it would have been more durable, too.

    • craigsu

      The fading is pervasive throughout the entire Saab line-up. My '99 9-3 SE badge lost its color in the first 18 months I had it. I managed to get it replaced twice (front and rear) under warranty before it ran out. There are replacement stickers available in the aftermarket but I actually like mine in the buff. A badge of honor, if you will.

      I've always liked the style of the headlight wipers on the earlier models. My wipers and motors are sitting in a box in storage. I don't feel like repairing them and they really aren't needed here in the southern US.

  • RichardKopf

    Nice! Now find me a `94-`97 Chrysler LHS.

    • julkinen

      I actually did see one on a dark parking lot some time ago.

    • randomusername

      I wish him good luck with that. I´'ve never seen one, the closest is the 300M. Seen at least two of them during my lifetime.. Suppose it's possible if you change this series to "vehicles i found stalking the classifieds" 😉

    • TurboBrick

      Oh they're there, all right.. I've seen one Intrepid and a couple of Eagle Visions over there, and that was a long time ago. I'm sure there has to be an odd LHS mixed in there as well.

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      Yeah! And find me a Vol…

      …not even worth finishing that sentence, is it?

      • Volga 3102?

        • FuzzyPlushroom

          Volaré. (Yes, I pronounce it 'vo-la-RAY', just to be contrary.)

    • julkinen

      The trail is hottening up, I saw two 300M:s today.

    • julkinen

      <img src="http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9684341/lhs.jpg&quot; width="670">

      Here we go. Was in another town 35km away, though.

  • facelvega

    Ah, the 90, Saab's S-type. This post makes me wonder which Saab for me really condenses the idea of Saabness the most. I used to think the 96, but that's too easy. A 900 turbo 19-valve is appealing, but I think in the end I go 99 turbo. Of course this doesn't change the fact that the Saab I'm most likely to someday own is a Sonett III. I can't get past the awesomeness of its seats.

    • craigsu

      A 19-valve would be the peak of quirkiness for Saab (or any other manufacturer for that matter), but I bet they could have pulled it off somehow.

      • facelvega

        Oh no, it really was 19 valves, it's just that cool. It's often mistakenly written as 16-valve because people can't comprehend the amazingness of vintage Saab engineering. Definitely not a typo.

  • julkinen

    Bonus content:

    <img src="http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9684341/soon.jpg&quot; width="700">

  • smokyburnout

    Looks like the headlight wipers don't move in the usual arc, just horizontal across the headlight? Never seen that before…

  • Saabman

    The 99s in the US pretty much all had B motors. Not H.

  • This Saab looks great, there in its natural habitat. I can't remember the last time I saw one here in the desert, and if I did see one here, it would look as out of place as if someone had thrown a rattlesnake into that snowbank, there. Except for the little two stroke one that my grandmother used to drive me around in, I don't have very much experience with Saabs. Hippies used to drive them in Salt Lake when I lived there, but lately they've been growing on me. I like these posts, keep up the good work.