GM900/9-3 month begins

This might be a tough one to get off the ground, but I’m going to give it a go anyway. We had an unofficial 9-5 month back in December and I’d like to have a shot at giving some love to the NG900 and first-gen 9-3.

When I first took Saab ownership to be a realistic option, the only car I really considered was a classic 900. Preferably an Aero, though that never happened. The one car I wasn’t interested in at all was the GM900. It just didn’t have the same classic look in my eyes and as I got to know more about Saab the whole GM-input thing gave me another reason to dislike it. Not for any particular reason and certainly not based on having driven it. I was basically being a bit pig-headed and GM were (are) an easy target.

I first drove a GM900 about 7 or 8 years ago. I managed to get one for a test drive from a local second-hand dealer. I was surprised and impressed, though happy to continue my pigheaded dismissal of the car. After the classic 900, the GM900 seemed like a styling letdown – a burden I think it still bears in it’s basic form.

But the GM900 and the 9-3 can be made to look the goods and there’s certainly plenty of Saaby character in the car.

I’m hoping to cover the car’s development and variants and perhaps open a few eyes to what’s a genuine good value Saab for those that might be looking for one.

If you’ve gt a GM900 or first-generation 9-3 then I invite you to email me and let us all know what you love about it and of course, good quality photos are essential.

The first photo in the GM900/9-3 month comes from Rob in San Diego. Believe it or not, it’s winter over there – not that you’d ever know from this:


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  1. I’ve just finished reading “SAAB 900 A Swedish Story” by Anders Tunberg. One of the biggest surprises from reading the book had to do with the Opel platform for the 900. I always thought that Saab was forced to use the platform by GM. However, Tunberg indicates that Saab was having trouble developing a suitable platform for a new 900 off of the 9000 platform. The proprotions weren’t correct when downsized, and the result was too expensive. When the 50% GM ownership was announced, it appears that it was Saab that eagerly jumped at the opportunity to use an Opel platform and felt that Opel had the perfect platform on which to develop the new 900.
    I’ve never been a fan of the new generation 900, but after reading this book, I appreciate it a little more. Still, after watching crash test videos at, I wouldn’t drive one.

  2. My thinking about the GM900 was the same. Not a ‘true’ Saab. However, as trivial as it sounds, my beef with the GM900 also had to do with the name — this was the first time that Saab had kept the same numeric identifier for an all-new vehicle. It’s lead us to this unwieldy C900/GM900/NG900 mix.

    Of course, I guess that the 9-3 and 9-5 are destined for the same.

  3. Ted Y: You should look at the results from real chrashes with Saab 900(9-3) and not some crashtest pictures. The swedish insurence company Folksam is well known for it’s real chrash studies (they have studied over 94 100 crashes between 1994-2004) and they rate Saab 900 as more then 30% safer then the standard car in sweden. Every year they annonce a safest car and in 2005 that car was in fact two cars, Saab 9-5 and Saab 9-3 (98-03) and as you well know the 9-3 is a 900 with new seats to include SAHR. So to question the safety of Saab 900/9-3 is just silly…

  4. eggsngrits:
    At least the use of the 900 for one more generation wasn’t nearly as bad as Toyota’s Corolla. They’ve used the name since 1968, switching from a rwd box to a modern fwd layout. And yet it is considered to be the best selling “nameplate” in the world (Wikipedia and others). Nameplates matter apparently.

    Psycho Dave:
    I hope you’re right. I just can’t get past the photos, especially when compared to the modern 9-3.

  5. GM900s always had that ‘ew’ tag in my mind. But not the early 9-3s. I think they’re beautiful. I saw only my second 5-door Viggen in person today. I almost stopped in the middle of an intersection when I saw it waiting at the light… The driver probably thought I was crazy waving and pointing at his car…

  6. You cannot in any way compare a Gm900 to a 9-3ss in terms of crash performance. The GM 900 was developed during 87-92? and the 9-3ss 99-03. That’s 10-12 years of technology difference we are talking about in a timeperiod where car safety got a whole new focus in general. Compare the GM900 to any other similar size car developed during the same time period and you’ll see that it’s a very safe car.

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