Restoration of a Classic: 99 Turbo 4-door sedan (Part 1)

99 Turbo 4 DWhen I picked up the car in 2012, in really bad condition as seen.

SaabCars is now selling a 4-door Turbo Sedan model of the 9-3 generation II on the swedish market. Saab Automobile production came to an end with the 4-door sedan of the 9-5 generation II. But when did Saab start to sell their very first 4-door sedan with turbo powered engine? For those of You who know Your history books that was with the 900 Turbo sedan in 1981. Well not quite so. There where a few 99 Turbos with rear passenger doors. And that was 4 years earlier. Here is the story and the restoration program. A restoration that You can follow here on SaabsUnited. Hopefully some of you get the inspiration to do something similar to save an old Saab.

bild 2Some of You have most probably read my prevoious postings on Saab History and classic Saabs. You might recall the Saab 99 Turbo Rally cars I have built and competed with over the last years. Also my recreation of the Pearl white 99 Turbo replica, the very first 99 Turbo from the 1977 Inteational Frankfurt Auto Saloon. That car is now under construction/restoration.

One and a half year ago I found a super rare 99 Turbo and to my surprise it was a 4 door saloon. I was at first somewhat reluctant if this was a true 4 door. Saab has never sold the 99 Turbo in that configuration just 2 door sedan and CombiCoupe (Wagonback).

I picked up the car in southern Swedish province of Skåne. Then I drove way up north to find a not so rusty donor car, since some parts on the turbo where really rusted out and had damage from a collision.

What one of the other 9 4 door cars did look like picture taken from a Saab 99 Turbo sales brochure from 1978.

Now I have again started a historical research that has been part of all my car renovations since I always do unusual and spectacular cars. This car was not different in that respect. It was Test vehicle no. 970 in the One-hundred series. Test fleet vehicles that Sab built before the offical launch of the 99 Turbo CC in 1978. Through a good friend who was a manager at Saab-Scania both in Sweden and The US in the heydays, we started a collaborative work to make the registry of the alluring 100 cars as complete as possible.

We still work on that list. What we know just about nothing about is the cars sent to europe (EU) excluding Sweden. The 100 cars whare sent to the US, Sweden and rest of europe. Of the 4 doors 10 where made and 5 has survived only one in traffic. The one rolling has been modified extensively, has a history as a track-racer, tuned 16V engine and a Airflowkit registration plates GEM943.

April 2014 / Part 1

The body has been repaired and all rusty parts been replaced and or welded. Grey primer paint has been sprayed on the whole body after som extensive work in ironing out the small bubbles and wrinkles seen on any body after soon 40 years. The body is rolling on its chassi that will be taken of once back from paint. The wheelhouses has been cleaned out and will receive new paint as well. The trunk floor has got new asphalt anti sound and vibrations mats. They where put in place with a heat gun after applying the rubber hole fillers at the joint of the floor and rear end metal sheets.

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The body in grey primer. I showed the picture for Björn Envall the ex. Saab Design manager who told me this.

When I see this picture I get that wonderful sensation of standing in the Saab factory paint facility to see the very first body in base/prime paint glide out, and to check the matte surfaces that are so revealing and on this picture YOU HAVE MANAGED to bring back that flow” – Björn Envall

Meanwhile in the garage preparations for the bodys return has been going on for some months. Restoration work, like bumpers metal pieces, plastics like grille, lights, electricity harnesses has been extensive. The most complicated work has also started and that is to get the ultra rare interior in burgundy plastic/fabric and the velour on the seat areas and doors in pearl grey. That grey was ably used on 77 and 78 99 GLE models. The top of the line luxury Saabs of that time era. The wheels on this car is not the 15″ INCAs that was the standard wheel for the production 99 Turbo. This model had the 15″ EMS/GLE aluminium wheels aka. Soccer balls. So I renovated 5 of these by gently polish them with a rotating 3M brush on the electric drill. Primer grey paint to be followed by black paint. Then polish the areas of the wheel that should be shiny metal. Matte clear coat was added and the wheels done

Support for this project comes from: (and I am open for new supporters feel free to contact)

  • GIK Turboteknik in Göteborg (Turbo)
  • Sellholm Tuning Köping (Springs)
  • Forza Motorsport /Bilstein (Shock absorbers)
  • KGK / Autoexperten Blaupunkt (Radio / Speakers)
  • RP Glasfiber (Turbo spoilers)
  • ColorGlo Höör (Interior upgrade/restoration)
  • Ferrita Exhaust (Stainless steel exhaust systems)

18 thoughts on “Restoration of a Classic: 99 Turbo 4-door sedan (Part 1)

  1. I, for one, love this type of article. Keep them coming please! The more detailed, the better. I am trying to restore a 1966 Monte Carlo 850 and I am constantly looking for tips and ideas. Thank you!

    • Please feel free to ask any questions. I have a 1966 MonteCarlo V4 that was factory converted to V4 from 850cc two stroker.

      • I may ask questions some day, thanks. I’ll be sticking with the stroker though since I have a rebuilt crank and block and carbs already. Rust and collision damage are my big problems right now. I set up a blog on the project to keep pressure on myself to get it done. I’ve taken a break due to family problems, but I’ll get back to it soon.
        Blog is at if interested.

  2. If anyone in the Stockholm region would like to share some of the Saab restorations joy and horror, I have an area in my “factory” that is up for rent. So You can fulfill Your dreams as well.

    • I would love it if you would do a 1988 Saab 900 SPG, as I said in the Int. NG 9-5 Owners group on Facebook. If you know of someone who has that model over in Sweden I might be willing to get on a plane and purchase it.

      Not holding my breath though..LOL

  3. Very nice to see such an unusual car being renovated and preserved for the future. Good job, Jörgen! 🙂

    I myself have a quite odd 2-door 1988 900i 8V KAT with sunroof that I would want to preserve. It has quite a bit of rust but has only done about 171000 kms. Unfortunately I don’t have the time, knowledge or resources (as an engineering student) to renovate it, but I’m trying to fix the worst and hope someone else will fix it in the future, perhaps (if it has not gone too far).

  4. Wow! I can hardly wait to see the finished car. There is nothing on the planet like a vintage SAAB. In addition to them being very solid and fun to drive, they are so incredibly unique. I would love to restore my ’79 99 gl one day, but until then i have a rare ’79 900 gle 5-door (at least rare in the U. S.), and a ’73 96 V4 to drive 🙂

  5. Very nice!
    Jealous of the 99 parts pile. Trying to start my own but they are hard to come by stateside
    Will be watching this with interest

    • J+ I would guess You have a better chance to find parts for a 99 Turbo project in the US, compared to europe, since the wast majority of the cars went there.

  6. Ahh that is surprising. I assume Europe had more 99s overall though, having 4 more years’ worth and also the SAAB 90.
    Very hard to come by here in the States, thankfully I live 15km from a SAAB junkyard 🙂

  7. Are you keeping the 99T engine and rebuilding it?
    I may swap in a 1981 8V Turbo H engine though my stock 2.0 B runs well now

  8. The 99 is an especially styish SAAB even if it is not the most well known model. I am glad to see this impressive restoration. J+ above is right when he says they are not common here (US).

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