By on March 2, 2012

Yesterday’s Name That Car Clock challenger came from a ’74 Fiat 124 Spider. That clock was very dignified, in a cool Italian sort of way. Today’s NTCC contestant is much more festive, though it’s not from a Ford Festiva. Decide what year/make/model vehicle produced this clock, then make the jump to see if you were right.

1987 Saab 900 Turbo

If you saw the “VDO” molded into the white plastic, you probably figured out that this unit was of European origin. The “ECON” label for the low end of the tachometer suggests a sensible Swedish outlook, and the bright colors suggests Saab lunacy. What did you think it was?

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22 Comments on “Name That Car Clock: Brightly Colored Clock/Tach Combo...”

  • avatar

    Spent lots of time looking at one of those!

    I was wondering why such a rust-free example was in the junkyard, and then I spotted the autotragic transmission. With 194k miles, it must have at least been on its second one.

  • avatar

    Finally one I knew! I had an ’88 900 Turbo myself, so I guess that I cheated.

  • avatar

    Also cheated by virtue of having owned one as my first car. Knew immediately.

  • avatar

    I said 89 900T, close enough. :)

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    I’m sad to see that particular car waiting to be squished. Would so rather see it on the road representing true Saab-i-ness.


  • avatar

    Damnit, this one I knew….

    Interesting that Saab’s typeface and design didn’t change much over the decade. Of course, the actual *cars* didn’t change much, either, but simple, legible gauges were always a bonus—especially when you’d be guaranteed to see Check Engine or Check Gearbox with some frequency.

    It was sad when GM chrome’ed up Saab gauges earlier this past decade.

  • avatar

    Chrysler adopted the green Eco band on their tachometers recently. It’s on their minivans and SUVs.

  • avatar

    wow, murilee you’re doing a tour of my father’s cars clocks! after he gave up on his ’74 and ’79 124 spyders, he bought his beloved ’85 saab 900! yes, that is the tach/clock module. if memory serves, there is an annoying yellow led that glows somewhere on that gauge to remind you to upshift too early for maximum gas mileage. maybe it wasn’t included in the ’87 model.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    I like the green curve below the 1, 2 and 3. It suggests “wheeee”!!! Always a fan of this Saab design.

  • avatar

    Murilee, if this clock is included in your art project, will you find a way to drive the tach? What would it measure?

  • avatar
    Pete Kohalmi

    I had an 83 Saab 900S so I knew it was a Saab. 1987–that was their heyday. Those old 900s were very sturdy. My favorite two things about mine were the very comfy seats and the simple manual sunroof.

  • avatar

    Picked it right out as my brother had one and I used if for a few months. I picked up his Saab 900 at his house in mid February in New Paltz, NY. Left unused in his driveway for 8 weeks, it started right up in 4 degree weather. One thing these cars were good at was dealing with winter. What they sucked at was reliability. Not durability, as they could be kept running for high miles, but constant problems were the norm. My favorite one was the tachometer needle that bounced up and down in opposite concert with the left turn signal. Parts also cost a fortune and the A/C sucked. Shifter was like an oar in a bucke of syrup and bolts. But despite all that,and much more, I really liked it a lot. if it was reliable, I would have bought it from him in a heartbeat. But he was rich and I was not, so I passed.

  • avatar

    Well, since nobody confesses to their wrong guesses on these:

    I didn’t notice the VDO stamp, so the design of the unit made me think Ford, and the face definitely made me think 80’s Euro, so I guessed Merkur.

  • avatar

    Wow, I was right. I knew it had to be European, and something about the silly “Econ” range on the tach just screamed “Saab Turbo.”

  • avatar

    I could not identify this one at all, for starters, the overly colorful hands/graphics, the almost helvetica like numbers, the econo green graph etc stumped me but then again, I didn’t even notice the VDO identifier either.

    And add to that, I’ve not been inside a SAAB 900 in years and don’t recall my best friend’s old ’80 SAAB 900 Turbo’s tach being this colorful either. He bought it in the late 80’s used with at least 150K miles on it then and sold it somewhere over 200K.

    The dash layout is very much like his was too so I’m guessing his had the clock integrated into the tach and I think he also had a turbo boost gauge too.

    Anyway, his was originally a Euro car, modified for importation into the US from what I remember being told as it had the sunroof, red velour upholstery, black paint, stereo but no AC and of course, the 5Spd manual and had the wild red, orange, yellow turbo graphics on the side of the car. It was very cool looking and so 1980.

    But alas, that WAS 1992-93 when he sold it and got a ’78 Chevy Luv truck.

  • avatar

    looks like my ’85 SAAB 900 Turbo – one of the only cars I regret selling.

  • avatar

    YES! First one I got right!

  • avatar

    Black, red, green, and gold – I thought it was from the 1933 Black Star Liner.

  • avatar

    I knew that one immediately! My 88 SPG had the same one. Clock worked; tach didn’t. Lol. it was straight piped with a HFC so I didn’t really NEED a tach…

  • avatar

    Great use of Helvetica. Is there any other automaker who used Helvetica in its gauges?

  • avatar

    I had an 86 900 turbo 3 door. Loved that car!

    And thanks Pete for reminding me of the manual SUNROOF!!! I loved scaring my passengers by slamming that thing shut quick. Hahahahhaa.

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