Junkyard Find: 1986 Saab 900 S Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The original Saab 900 was a favorite of Colorado car shoppers during its 1979-1994 sales run, and I still see many of these cars during research expeditions to my local yards. So many, in fact, that I neglect to photograph most of them.

When I visited some of Phoenix’s excellent yards while on my way to work at the final 24 Hours of Lemons race before the Covid-19 menace shut down such gatherings, though, I spotted this ’86 900S and realized I need to document more of these interesting machines.

The 1986 900 S came standard with a naturally-aspirated, four-valves-per-cylinder engine displacing 2.0 liters and generating 125 horsepower. If you go back far enough in this engine’s ancestry, you’ll find the Triumph Slant-Four as its grandfather. That makes the Saab 900 first cousin to the Triumph TR7.

The 900 S came between the entry-level 900 and the factory-hot-rod 900 Turbo on the Saab Prestige-O-Meter, with the 900 S sedan starting at $16,295 that year (about $38,120 in 2020 dollars). The ordinary 900 sedan went for $12,685; you couldn’t get a 900 Turbo sedan, but the three-door hatchback started at $18,695.

Not many miles on the odometer for a 34-year-old car.

The 24 Hours of Lemons race that weekend had a Saab 900 Turbo team, which sent a representative to the junkyard (several hours away from Inde Motorsports Ranch, located near the New Mexico border) in order to harvest some much-needed parts of today’s Junkyard Find. That’s a numbers-matching Saab 35 Draken in the background, by the way (though the original “Born From Jets” Saab — regardless of whether you’re talking about the car or the airplane— wasn’t quite as slick-looking as the Draken).

I’ll need to follow this up with a Saab 9-3 in the near future, and perhaps a few more discarded 9000s.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Flybrian Flybrian on May 26, 2020

    Buy - Maxima. Its tidy and handsome in ways the Maxima never was nor ever would be again, sadly. Drive - the 929. Because. Its there. Burn - the Taurus. Or really let itself burn.

  • Bobbysirhan Bobbysirhan on May 26, 2020

    I remember every horrible detail about these clunkers. The worst thing GM ever did was draw out Saab's collapse by a couple of decades.

  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.