Junkyard Find: 1986 Saab 900
Before I moved to Colorado from California, two years ago this June, I became accustomed to seeing Saab 900s in large quantities in every self-service junkyard I visited. The 900 was a big seller in California (as was the Volvo 240), and you’d always find a half-dozen or so at the bigger yards. The 900 is a much rarer beast in Colorado; I see the occasional lovingly preserved example on the street, but this is the only junked example I’ve seen in a few months.
The turbocharged 900s were more popular, especially here at altitude, but quite a few naturally-aspirated versions were sold.
290,000 miles— pretty good for a mid-80s car.
One thing I’ve learned working 24 Hours of LeMons races is that the 900 is one of the quickest cars of its era when you put it on a road course; the non-turbo 900 is respectably fast and the turbocharged version will obliterate most BMW E30s and even the shockingly quick Alfa Romeo Milano… until the transmission (or engine, or suspension, or electrical system) breaks, which tends to happen early and often. At least the California Saab racers have no shortage of junkyard parts!
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I had a 1987 900 4 door, with the 8v 110 hp engine, for 11 years from 1993 until 2004. It was for all intents and purposes the same as this junked one, except for the bodystyle and the flight revision to the front end and bumpers to make them more aerodynamic. Bought it with 82k miles, dumped it with well over 250k miles. It was alittle fussy (goddam vacuum hoses and FI system made for nightmarish idle adjustments), but otherwise stout, perfect for errand running, comfortable, durable and funky, with just enough exhaust burble and gear whine / drivetrain lash to annoucne to the world that somethign special was coming down the road. Amazing turn radius. I plowed through several blizzards where I passed SUV's stuck in ditches. Even in non-hatchback form it could haul a shet of plywood on its flat trunk floor with the rear seat folded down. never ceased to entertain me. Such was the "soul" of the car that it was like a family member -- I shed a tear when I sold it, and then I saw it back on the road twice in the subsequent years, which made me happy and jealous for the new owner. Wonderful cars, ne'er to be duplicated.
For those of you that are interested, I moved abroad in june 2014. Before doing so I owned a white 1986 SAAB 900S non turbo exactly like the one pictured above, except 4 door instead of 2. My God what a car it was, wanted to sell it on ebay but never got to it so I finally had the local junk yard in wilmington NC pick it up. If its still there, please make some use of it, that is the real ultimate machine, and the only asset that I had an emotional attachment to. What a car. Its at a sort a pull and pay kinda place off of highway 421 in wilmington nc, let me know if any of you found it