Rare Rides: A Very Special 1979 Saab 900

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Portland seems to be a relative hot spot for old, well-maintained Saabs, and Rare Rides covered this Portland-based 99 previously. And while that little blue sedan racked up 195,000 miles, today’s 900 has covered several times more than that. Just how far can an old Saab go?

Though Saab’s 99 model remained in production from 1968 to 1984, its eventual replacement, the 900, started production in 1978 for the ’79 model year. Saab saved as much cash as they could and based the new 900 on the old 99. The 900 was larger on the outside than the 99, and had a slightly longer wheelbase. Its dimensional revisions allowed for an important advancement and continued sales: A new, longer front end which was compliant with American crash legislation.

Introduced with the 900 were a new series of “B” inline-four engines, all of them two liters of displacement. In 1979, the singular B engine was available in three different versions based on fuel management. The base model GL had a single carburetor and 100 horsepower, while the middle child GLs upped the carbs to two, and horsepower to 108. Upscale EMS and GLE trims were blessed with the convenience of fuel injection, and 118 horsepower. The pinnacle was of course the Turbo version, an idea which Saab tried out (with success) on the old 99. The Turbo upped the power ante to 145. Transmissions on offer were a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic.

For the first couple model years, only the three- and five-door hatchbacks were available. Saab didn’t want to give in to the bland of sedan, but caved to dealer pressure for the additional body style. That was the first of many incremental changes Saab made to their 900. An engine here, a trim tweak there, and a big facelift in 1987 brought the 900 to the appearance most people think of when they hear the name.

The 900 remained a 99 underneath until the 1995 model year. At that point the New Generation 900 debuted on the GM2900 platform it shared with the Opel Vectra and Saturn L. The 900 name went away for 1999, when the updated GM2900 version became the 9-3, and set up the beginning (or middle) of the end, as it were.

Today’s Rare Ride is an upper-middle trim EMS, from the very first model year. Finished in a fun shade of green, the interior wears multiple tones of lime, dark lime, and emerald. The odometer reads a shocking 690,949 miles, made even more incredible via the dealer’s report that this is the second odometer. The first odometer was changed out at 200,000 miles; for non-maths people, that’s very nearly 900,000 miles traveled under the care of a singular owner.

If you ignore the circa 2004 aftermarket audio, all looks excellent and period-correct, carried off on stunning Inca wheels. This testament to the longevity of the Saab 900 is yours for $4,500.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 45 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jul 14, 2019

    If this car were closer to where I live I might be interested in it. Would want to negotiate for a little off the price but that wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Jul 15, 2019

    My buddy -- let's call him Gooch -- had a slightly later fuel-injected 900 in black with a maroon interior. Smoooooth, reliable, and it felt SUBSTANTIAL to drive in a way no other small car at the time did...plus there was enough space in the hatch to sleep in the thing. When his station in the world improved, he moved on to a used 9000 and gave the 900 for free to his buddy -- let's call him Mouserat -- who had just been "blessed" with a child he could not afford and needed a car. Naturally, the 900 started requiring expensive repairs shortly thereafter, and Mouserat told anyone who would listen how Gooch had done him wrong.

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