Weekend Edition – Awakening the Saab 900S after a long winter


Spring is here. Finally. The days are getting longer, the sunrays, coy at first, have punctured through the all-encompassing clouds and greyness and it’s at long last possible to feel one’s own solar panels working again. It puts a jolt in your step, it makes your grins stay just a little longer on your winter-beaten face. No matter how rainy or slushy it gets in between of the sunny days, the first promises of a long-awaited summer have been made.

Naturally, that means I get to roll out the one sleeping beauty that has been avoiding the road salt like a plague: my 1990 Saab 900S. I’ve had it tucked away at a corner of a storage barn for five miserable months, a fact helped by the lessening of the yearly road taxes and insurance bills. Despite a couple of disturbances to see how it’s doing, it’s been sleeping since October. But now, I couldn’t resist the temptation any more, and the ice-free roads just had to be visited in the Saab, even if snow is still present on parking lots and roadsides.


Of course, what also helps is the fact my Citroën is in the shop. I decided to have the starter replaced as it quite obviously is packing up: driving around with a hammer and a pipe in the trunk is kind of tedious, since the day would surely come when convincing the starter with a gentle clank would no longer do. So I drove the Peugeot to the storage barn, connected the Saab’s battery, fiddled the battery heatshield into place and rolled out into the welcoming sun.


After a good stint in the Citroën, some things are immediately obvious. The ride, steel-sprung and 1960s-derived, is hard and particularly picky on road imperfections. The car has a Sachs/KYB setup a little firmer than OEM, and the Pirellis on the Sunburst wheels aren’t really too young anymore. Our winter-wrecked roads are in a sorry state, so the cosseting, compliant, oftentimes ever-so-much ignoring Citroën suspension has let me be. The Peugeot, too, is quite a lot softer, a fact that keeps surprising me.


But then there’s the other thing this car does, that the Citroën doesn’t do, and it’s the thing where you just press your right foot down at a reasonable speed and it shows you why you bought it in the first place. The two-litre, sixteen-valve, intercooled turbo four gets a go-ahead from the three-speed Borg Warner, and any resistance is ever so futile. Now, I believe burying the throttle in a manual SPG/Aero is a completely different hyper-speed jolt, but after a winter spent in 115-horsepower midsize cars, a helping of TURBO POWER is just what I needed to get.

I’m not playing down the entertainment factor of the idiot dog 205, but it’s again a different thing. With the Peugeot, I get my kicks from the BWAARR-BWAAARRR-BWAAARRRR moments of playing around with the ridiculously eager throttle response and the shorty-short-short gearbox; it performs best at speeds under 80 km/h, to be blunt. It’s above that when the Saab is given its chances.


After a winter spent indoors, with the last snows – I hope – finally retreating, the Saab feels up to the task and ready to serve. Compared to the winter-stored Sapporo I uncovered a year ago, it’s hardly sleepy at all. The sole blemish on the first spring outings is a CEL that most likely can be traced down to a dodgy O2 sensor, and with that sorted out I can bring the car in for a MOT that’ll be due in a couple weeks. Most likely it would pose no problems with the light on, but it’s always the best bet to show up in your best fighting form.

As for the rest of my fleet, the 205 will get some fresh rubber on its steelies. The Xantia will be used on road trips where stuff desperately needs to be hauled without too much fuel getting used – a respectable 7-7,5/100km, or ~33-31mpg will always come handy. The Polo? Gotta get the engine back together at some point. The water pump needs to come out and a new one needs to go in, and after that I’ll be wondering which nut and washer goes where.

But for now, I’m back in the Saab saddle, with my Queensrÿche in my Blaupunkt.

[Images: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]

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