The Story of Martin’s C900 T16S (updated)

SaabsUnited received this fantastic story from Martin who lives in South Wales of a restoration project that took just over six months to complete with fantastic results. I have placed a couple of small pictures here on the page but quite a few more will arrive in the post tomorrow (please see bottom of article) and I’ll publish them for you all to see.

Here are Martin’s words.

Just thought I would send you these pictures of my recently restored Classic 900 T16S 2door Saloon. The restoration took 6 months of blood sweat and many tears but it was so worthwhile. I believe Saab only ever produced 265 of these editions for the UK market and so it must now be quite rare. It is a 1988 model in Odoardo Grey with Buffalo Leather. I work as a salesman at a Saab dealer, Concept Saab in Cardiff, Wales and yes we are finding it very tough going at present but then each time I drive this beautiful car I still get a thrill and remain confident that one day we will once again have Saab cars that give us this sense of pride and joy. I would like to add we have taken 3 orders for 94X even though UK pricing and spec has not even been announced! These orders were taken at the recent SAAB sponsored Welsh Open Golf tournament at Celtic Manor which Concept Saab hosted and were to existing BMW X5 drivers!

This was from his diary.

Having previously owned two 900 T16 2 door saloons, I have always been on the lookout for another one.
In November 2007 a friend of mine alerted me to this vehicle on Ebay, which immediately grabbed my attention, I started the bidding but unfortunately lost out to a more canny bidder! A week later the seller contacted me to say he had not received the requested deposit nor had he heard from the buyer and therefore the car was mine if I still wanted it (did I ever!). This came as a great surprise to me and made me think was this “meant to be”. I promptly booked a train ticket to Darlington where my journey was to begin and was picked up at the station by the seller who took me to his house where the car was found nestled comfortably in a barn. Tucked in the glove box was a logbook showing 10 former keepers! An original owners wallet containing all receipts MOT’s invoices and documented service history. Having had 10 former keepers I was delighted to find so much history and original documentation still present, a good sign. Unfortunately on first viewing the car was not exactly as described as it had a howling rear wheel bearing, rotting door bottoms and boot lid along with the usual Bedouin Tent headlining. A challenge to some but not me! As I still owned one of the other T16’s (which thankfully carried a donor card) I decided I could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
I drove the car back to Cardiff and continued to use it until it failed its MOT in October 2009 mainly due to welding issues. This was a good time to consider a thorough overhaul and re-spray using donor parts and panels from the other car, which I had already stripped down ready for that great scrap yard in the sky.

Having worked for Saab in various roles since 1975, 17 years in the body shop and now as a sales executive for Concept Saab in Cardiff, it was an easy decision to get stuck in to the restoration of this beautiful machine having been told by my boss at Concept, Simon Clay that I could use the companies facilities as long as the work was carried out in my spare time.

And so we begin!

I stripped the car down to a bare driveable shell and transported it to our body shop along with the donor doors, bonnet and boot lid which were in fact Silver but rot free.
The car had a thorough re-spray with the bolt on panels being sprayed separately to make sure no silver would be visible. They had the car until late January 2010 as they were fitting in the work between other jobs.

Upon return of the car to me at Concept I then had the engine removed, stripped and rebuilt with all new timing gear, gaskets, and cylinder head valve seats reground. The engine block was then painted red and the cylinder head silver. The engine bottom end was in perfect order with no work required in that department.
With the engine removed I found my first setback… the front chassis legs and cross member were badly corroded, which unfortunately was not apparent whilst the engine and front assembly were in place. Many hours were then put into treating the rust and painting the engine bay while the engine work was taking place.
The next phase was to hang and reassemble the doors and refit the overhauled window motors and mechanisms.
Once the engine work was complete it was time for installation, which also included the fitting of the donor gearbox, which was in a better condition than its original, this all went very smoothly thanks to our super cool and laid back Master Technician Chris Dennis who’s application and attention to detail is second to none!

With the engine now running sweetly it was time for water leak testing prior to the refit of the interior. This again caused a few setbacks but I felt the effort put in now would be better than finding a sopping wet carpet after the first down pour of rain.

Having cured a few water leaks it was time to reunite the interior with the cleaned carpets, door panels and, newly conditioned leather seats.
Also fitted at this stage was the sports exhaust sourced from Neo Bros who have to be complimented for their superb and efficient service.

The next stage was to nervously book the MOT, which it failed!
A few minor issues were quickly and easily rectified. Success, a brand new MOT was firmly in my grasp and 12 months tax followed ten minutes later!
At this point I could book the car in at Paradise Saab Southampton which would also give the car its first long test run. The headlining re-trim was done superbly and quickly in one day. (Thanks Dan). While at Paradise I also invested in a powder coated cam cover.

On the return journey from Paradise Saab I discovered the clutch was slipping (damn that pesky clutch) another setback? Not for Mr Cool (Chris Dennis)

The next job was to have the alloy wheels refurbished which was done by a local company, Diamond Shine, again a fantastic job and my thanks to Gareth for that.

I now felt I had a good chance of making Swedish Day after all!!

Like any project it is the final touches that can make all the difference and I could not have wished to have had a better person for the valeting and cleaning of the car than Chris Jenkins the Body Care Specialist at Concept who worked his usual magic to get the car looking fantastic. Parts and consumables can come at a premium for such an elder statesman as the classic 900. A special thank you to our resident memory man (Paul Sullivan – Parts Manager) who’s vast knowledge and experience made the sourcing of parts a doddle.
And so with just one day to go it was finished and ready for the drive to Yeovil which I completed in convoy with Chris Redman and his fully restored Silver 3dr T16s. The show had a fantastic turn out and both Chris and I had some very encouraging and admiring comments throughout the day.







Martin sent over 100 photo’s to us which are all good, so I’ve placed them on my flickr site.


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You sir are to be commended on restoring what in my opinion is the ultimate Saab. Well done!! 🙂

(TimR can we pls have a thumbs up icon?)


I second both statements 😀


What a beauty, and what great story!


Well done, +10


Brings back memories of my 1985 non-turbo 16 valve two door 900S. I bought it new at a local SAAB dealer. Saab service departments would tell me that were no 1985 model year two doors and certainly no 1985 non-turbo 16 valve engines (at least not in the States). The 16 valve non-turbo engine became the base U.S. engine in 1986 and a two door 900S was also available in 1986, so “yours must be a 1986” they would say. Not so. The 1985 was distinct from the later year in that the suspension was from the turbo and the… Read more »


Wonderful to see a classic like this preserved. You don’t see yourself on every street corner, as with modern status symbols. But once in a while, when you do see a C900, it puts a smile on your face

Red J

I’m not a fan of the C900, and the 2 door saloon is imo the most polarizing C900, but it always feels good when I see that somebody else is and puts a lot of effort to restore a classic Saab.

Thanks martin for keeping Saab history alive, and all the luck to the dealership you work for, as I think that a last effort will be needed to reach the top of the hero mountain (see next post).

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