The joy of owning a Saab 99 Turbo

This is a great story, from a young guy here in Australia named Simon L.
For me there’s the personal interest, which you’ll understand shortly. But it’s more than that. What Simon talks about here is a joy that many of you will relate to.
Simon’s right. Saabs really do get under your skin.

I am the very proud owner of a 1978 Saab 99 Turbo. It isn’t just any old 99 turbo. It’s Swade’s old 99 turbo. One of two that he often speaks so fondly and lovingly of.
I have wanted an old car since the day my dad should me a photo of his Datsun 180b SSS. I don’t know what it was about that car, but I made my mind up right then and there….. I would own a classic car. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was (and still am) studying design. The form appealed to me in a way that modern cars don’t.
I spent a good 5 years looking for a suitable car. I came extremely close to buying an amazing 180b SSS from Adelaide, but it got to a point where it was out of my price range. I mentioned this to a guy I work with at uni named Ben. Little did I know, but Ben is an insane car nerd as well! He somehow managed to find the 99 for sale on the Australian Saab Owners Club forum. He showed me, and I was a little hesitant. Then I watched this video.
I was sold. That was it. I flew to Sydney from Brisbane with a check in my pocket. I had never seen (noticed) an old 900 in the steel let alone a 99. It was a dream. I can’t begin to describe how magnificent it was to see it and drive it for the first time. The photo below was taken on that first drive.
The English gentleman that I bought it from was heartbroken to see his baby go. I don’t think I have seen anyone as sad at the voluntary loss of a material possession. It just goes to show how Saab really gets under your skin. I think there is something about this particular car, too. I am very much in love with her, and would be incredibly sad to see her go.
The drive back from Sydney was fantastic (the next two photos were taken along the way). Not a single issue in about 1300 KM.
The only real issue I have had in the year that I have had the car is the master cylinder on the clutch going. The first time I took it into to Paul at Saab Automotive here in Brisbane, he gave me a bit of a talk, which included a death threat if anything should happen to my dear Sam. His words were “you just don’t find them like this anymore”.
Everyone that gets into her is blown away. The smell, the feel. It gets them too. I always wait to see if a new passenger can figure out the seat belts in the front. It’s a nice giggle. That’s one of the things that I love about my car. It is different. It sets itself apart in a way that is quirky yet inherently charming.
It is a pleasure, a joy and a privilege to own such a remarkable Saab. I am so glad that Saab lives on, so that the full extent of that quirky charm can be breathed back into the next generation of Saabs. The photo below shows Sam amongst the other Saabs at the Brisbane Support Convoy. I am also grateful to be part of such a remarkable and committed community.
Heartfelt thanks to Simon for this update on one of my former cars (our time together was much too short!), but also an insight into the joy that owning one of these unique vehicles can bring.

In the SU garage (or should I say…. out of the SU Garage)

This one isn’t going to be popular, but here goes…..
A better man than me once said the incredibly truthful words “A man’s got to know his limitations”. I bought a car late last year with the notion that I would fix it up and learn a little bit about fixing cars up along the way.
I’ve since learned that the lingering thought occupying the back of my mind was an accurate one – I’m totally freaking useless at that sort of stuff.
Saab 99 Turbo
The car, of course, was a Saab 99 Turbo in an rescuing this one, I hoped to rediscover the love that I had for my original Saab 99T, which I rescued some years ago and managed to get driveable again via the two gearboxes and the turbo I replaced at a considerable cost.
I’ve since found the help I need to be more voluminous than I thought and more difficult to secure in a timeframe that will keep me interested in the project. I also worry a little about what the endgame will look like – whether the car will really allow me to do some of the things I’d like to do. All of these points are things that I should have thought about more before I bought the car.
My Alfa 33 taught me that I can take a running car that’s less than optimal and make it a really well sorted and fun driving car. The Monte is teaching me the same thing. Perhaps it’s because I can enjoy driving it and seeing the results straight away? But bringing a car back from the dead is something beyond my scope.
I’m fickle and poorly equipped for such things, both in terms of skills and patience. I admit it.
Thankfully, I have managed to find a buyer with Saabs on the brain and a willingness to bag a bargain. The car will join his already considerable collection of Saab 99 Turbos awaiting completion and I’m sure all the spares that come with it will be very handy indeed.

Save the Saab 99 Turbo! Get it into Forza

Jalopnik are holding a competition whereby people get to vote for certain cars to be included in a downloadable extension pack for the X-Box game, Forza Motorsport 3.
The Saab 99 Turbo featured in a recent poll (that I didn’t get to publicise) and was ditched, but it’s been given a reprieve and a second chance of life in honor of Saab’s recent sale to Spyker.
Your task – get your cyber-ass over to Jalopnik and vote for the Saab 99 TurboNOW.
There is a deadline on voting, so please don’t dilly-dally.
Saab 99 Turbo
Thanks to Joel for the tip!

Thursday night snippets – tying it all together edition

The players as we know them and the status as we believe we know it to be.

  • Merbanco – sidelined
  • Koenigsegg Group – exile island
  • Renco – sideline (in big mansion)
  • BAIC – hanging around
  • Spyker – new kids on the block

There was a rumour in comments that Magna were sniffing around, but take into account Joran Hagglund’s words today about time being so crucial in this deal and you can make yourselves a rule that would seem to cut Magna out:
Anyone who’s going to be considered a serious contender for a Saab purchase at this late stage has either taken the buyers’ tour in Trollhattan already, or will be there this week.
News services are saying we’re down to two, and I have a feeling now that they’re right. It’s Spyker or BAIC, which effectively means it’s Spyker (continued life) or a parts deal as I still cannot see GM selling some of their newest gear to a competitor in China.
Bring your A-game, Dutchies.
Some goofball got interviewed by along with the head of the Finnish Saab Club.
My 18yo stepson said it must have been a slow news day 🙂
Here’s a cracker of a Christmas gift idea from Elkparts.

Do you remember the fun you had making gingerbread men when you were little? Here’s a modern interpretation on the gingerbread man biscuit (cookie) cutter from Saab.
A unique gingerbread cookie cutter design, in stainless steel, it follows the profile of the forthcoming all-new Saab 9-5.
At 13.5cm (5.3 inches) long, this cutter cuts a generous biscuit and is an official Saab accessory.
This product is supplied in a gift box and contains a traditional recipe for making the perfect Saab biscuits.

Mmmmm. Cookies. 9-5 cookies. A 9-5 that’s good enough to eat. Mmmmm.
I got a good result on my Saab 99Turbo today.
It’s got a cold start problem and I thought it might have been the cold start injector playing up. My mechanic said he’s never replaced one in hi life, though, and he was worried it might be the cold start regulator, which would be a much more delicate and expensive fix.
He gave me a groovy little test lamp to hook up to the plug connected to the valve, and it turns out it might just be the electricals to the valve rather than the valve or regulator.
Much cheaper and much quicker to fix. We could be on our way (finally!)
From Flickr today:

Out front of the Saab museum – part II

In part 1 of this three-part series, I took you for a brief ride in an original Saab 92 from the Saab Museum.

Today’s part 2 takes a look at another Saab classic that we were fortunate enough to drive on the day. It was pretty special for me, too, as it’s my favourite Saab of all time – the Saab 99 Turbo.


I hadn’t driven one of these for a while but it was just as I remembered it. Supremely comfortable, great driving position, visibility and of course – the turbo rush. The steering was h-e-a-v-y as usual. The other cars that I was fortunate enough to drive that day were both two-strokers so they had a light engine up front and could steer pretty easily. The 99T, of course, has the big two-litre turbo and it really is quite a heavy car.


Reasons I love the Saab 99 Turbo:

First of all, it’s an absolute blast to drive. Like the 900 Turbo that followed it, the car just seems to go right where you point it. It’s not super sporty but there’s a great raw feeling to this car, which brings me to my second reason…..

The 99T holds a special place in Saab’s history (and automotive history, really). It was their first foray into turbocharging, a form of power delivery that would go on to define a large part of Saab’s existence. It was also the first successful mass production turbocharged car that a regular worker could aspire to. BMW had their 2002 Turbo, which wasn’t reliable enough to keep going and the Porsche 930 was really quite an elite vehicle. Saab brought turbo to the masses.

It also has the coolest badge ever…..


The 99 interiors were pretty funky and the turbo version was about as funky as it could get. This pretty much sums up 1970s Saabs for me. Who else could get away with an interior that looks like it was crafted after a wild weekend in the seedier areas of Amsterdam?


And finally, the shape.

900 owners will probably disagree, but there’s something that’s just right about that slightly shorter nose. It’s a little more aggressive. To me, at least.


It really was an incredible privilege to drive this pristine 99T and once again, I have to thank Peter Bäckström at the Saab Museum for the opportunity.

As brilliant as this drive was, it wasn’t my favourite drive of the day. That one’s coming up next in this series.

Saab 99T – the spare parts 1

This will most likely be the last Saab 99T post for a little while, but I unpacked the car this evening and couldn’t resist a little photo of all the bits we managed to cram into the car.
Click to enlarge.
What you’re looking at there:

  • Used but good windscreen with Saab Accessories tint sticker
  • Spare turbocharger – condition unknown but still spins OK
  • Spare starter motor
  • Regular rear spoiler
  • Box full of assorted hoses in good condition
  • Rear hatch sill plate
  • 2 x spare front grilles
  • Cowling that sits at base of windscreen
  • Right and left front guards
  • Nardi woodrim steering wheel
  • EMS steering wheel (will be fitted to car)
  • Box full of engine mounts and bushings
  • Box full of electrical relays
  • Box full of dash switches and stalks
  • Box #1 of interior trim pieces
  • Box with headlamps and front indicator lamps
  • Box with as-new rear light housings
  • Box of assorted bits and pieces (window rubber showing)
  • Box of assorted fluid bottles for washers and radiator heater tanks
  • Box with headlamps and replacement airbox and fuel distributor
  • Box with two sets of power side mirrors, with wiring and switches
  • Box #2 of interior trim, featuring dash pad with turbo meter
  • Saab Accessories big rear spoiler

Of course, the very Saaby thing about this is that we were able to fit ALL of that into the rear hatch of the 99, along with this (which I didn’t get out for the photo as it’s too darn heavy to lift.
A spare Saab 99Turbo gearbox:
There’s more to come, too.
Back in Melbourne and hopefully coming soon in the back of Simon P’s C900 are:

  • 2x replacement doors
  • 4x Inca wheels
  • 2x steering racks
  • Assorted other odds and ends that I can’t remember right now.


The Saab 99

My upcoming project – restoring a Saab 99 Turbo – will begin in earnest later this week when I finally pick up the car and bring it home.
Naturally, I’ve got Saab 99 fever right now. Saab 99 Turbo fever, to be precise, but I’m happy to broaden my disease and include the entire 99 family.
What follows are a few entries I did back on Trollhattan Saab back in 2007. In March of that year, we had a month of Saab 99 loving, with lots of 99 stories and photos of owners’ cars. I kicked the month off with a few entries giving some background info on the Saab 99 in general.

The Saab 99 – a primer
Ever heard about the Saab – Daihatsu connection?
That’s one of the ways that Saab disguised prototypes of the Saab 99 during its testing phase – they crafted a “daihatsu” badge from a Saab Sport badge out of the Saab 96. The Saab 99 needed some disguising as it was the first all-new Saab in a long time and by the time it arrived it was the first new Saab model in around 19 years!
The Saab 99 was born from a project called Gudmund, named for the day on which the board took the decision to pursue the project – April 2, 1964 – Gudmund’s Day.
With the growth of the company and the growth of the motor vehicle market after the second world war, Saab knew that it needed a larger car to keep pace. The Saab 99 was to be this car. It’s initial design work was done primarily by Saab design guru Sixten Sason with the help of a young Bjorn Envall. Sadly, Sason died a short time before the unveiling of the 99. His work on the 99, though, and it’s use right through to the last Saab 900 in 1993 meant the Sason’s designs had driven Saab for 46 years from its inception as a car company in 1947. The fact that a late model Saab 900 can still look like a very contemporary car even today is a true testament to his creative skills.
Work got underway in earnest and the first prototype vehicles began testing in 1965. No-one would recognise them as 99s though as they resembled 96s in just about every way. These vehicles were known as “toads”. In effect they were a Saab 99 chassis and engine with a widened Saab 96 body placed on them. A 20cm section was welded into place down the middle, thus widening the 96 body to fit onto the 99 chassis. The Swedish newspaper Expressen managed to uncover the truth when a photographer managed to catch a ‘toad’ and a regular 96 together.
The Saab 99 made its public debut at a show called Teknorama in Stockholm, on November 22nd, 1967. It would be another year, however, before the model was released to the public for sale. Even the journalists had to wait, as there were only 50 cars available and these were being rigorously tested by a crew of engineers and carefully selected test drivers.

Read moreThe Saab 99

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