The classic car world is filled with a plethora of memorable motors, ranging from the beloved Mini, to the fashionable Aston Martin DB4. Luxury vehicles also have an influential reputation, and one of the most intriguing is the Saab 900. First developed in 1978, the car had a number of unusual designs that set it apart from others on the market. This contributed to its popularity, with the classic model being produced until 1993. We’re looking into the history of the Saab 900 to see what made it unique.
In the 1970s, safety became the primary objective of Saab, which inspired the company to create a vehicle that combined comfort, performance and handling together. Extensive work and testing was carried out until they came up with a car that was worth displaying. The end result was a motor that had several unique features, including a wraparound windscreen for maximum visibility and double wishbone suspension that provided exceptional handling.
Another unusual feature was the engine installed backwards, which was similar to the transverse engine of the Mini. A key difference came with the Mini gearbox and engine sharing the same oil, while the Saab 900 gearbox had a seperate sump for engine oil.
The interior had been designed with safety in mind, as seen from the telescopically collapsible steering column, sophisticated ventilation system and pollen filter. All dashboard controls were in easy reach of the driver as well.
When the Saab 900 debuted it received a lot of attention for its design and three versions were available. The GL had a 99 hp engine, the GLS came with two carburettors that could output 106 hp and the Turbo could crank out 143 hp. Over time, improvements were made to the original design, such as the Automatic Performance Control that came out in 1982. The feature allowed the engine to pick up any pressure changes and adjust accordingly.
The Saab 900 received a makeover in 1987, getting a revamped grille and headlights. It was estimated that the updated design improved aerodynamics by 5%. In the same year a special ‘one-make’ race series was made in the UK called the Saab Turbo Mobil Challenge. Run by the British Automobile Racing Club, only Saabs were permitted to enter. The series ran until 1988, with the overall winner being British racer Charles Tippet.
The final version of the ‘classic’ Saab 900 came out in 1993, with it being replaced by the ‘new generation’ the following year. Inspired by General Motors, the NG 900 SE was based around an Opel Vectra chassis.
The 900 remains one of Saab’s most influential models, with the classic being highly sought out by collectors.