900 loving: restoration story 2

It’s the month of classic 900 loving, where 900 owners can share their pics and c900 stories and revel in the classicky classicness of their classic Saab.

This next entry is another from Drew B, a fellow Tasmanian Saabnut whose work should be familiar to long-time lurkers at this site. The link below will take you to his first story. This car is the one that Drew owned when I first met him and to me, it was one of the wonders of the Saab world. A truly magnificent looking machine. When I first heard about how it used to look, I couldn’t believe it. This is the story.

Enjoy.

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CLICK ON ANY OF THESE IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

Following on from the ’83 900, I did the unthinkable back in the early 90’s and purchased a damaged 1990 900 Aero. The car had been T-boned by a truck, and the insurance company had written it off because of the expected waiting time on parts to repair it.

Drew 900 Aero The damage was quite spectacular; the drivers door and rear quarter were peeled away, the inner frame was pushed in against the drivers seat which had broken off its mountings, and the roof was a real mess having creased badly and moved some 100mm inwards and downwards out of alignment. Drew 900 Aero The left rear quarter had also been damaged when the car spun around and hit a post. Amazingly the rear hatch and front quarter survived unscathed, as did the floor and pillars. So even though it looked horrible, it was really only three panels to fix. No worries.

I sat the car at home for about 12 months while I gathered the parts to fix it. Finding second-hand parts, especially trim, for one of these cars at the time was quite difficult because they were still fairly new, but on trips across Australia I found pretty much everything I needed.

A base 900 2d sedan donated a door, and I unstitched the inner frame and roof rail from the same car upon finding that Saab had updated the part, and a new one would have required modification to fit. Not an option. I did buy a new outer skin and wheel well, though, which at the time cost me a small fortune. I can still remember the rear quarter panel arriving from Sweden in a 3-meter long pine box!

With all the bits and pieces located, it was time to put in the hard yards and actually repair it. I had the car taken to a mate’s panel shop where we jigged and measured it carefully, finding that it was about 3-4mm out of square when it was built; the LHS had 4 packer shims under the door striker plate, while the RHS had none.

We pulled out the inner frame and wheel well, along with the roof. Originally we thought that the roof panel might have to go as well, but it pulled into shape nicely and was able to be metal finished. The sunroof was beyond repair and replaced with a second-hand one, which was hard to track down. Once straight and measuring OK, we unzipped all the spot welds and removed the damaged sections where necessary.

Drew 900 Aero

Drew 900 Aero

The inner frame and roof came off, what was left of the outer skin came off, and the remains door went in the skip. The new panels went on after tedious alignment, and by the end of the week she was all back in one piece. It was now time for paint.

Drew 900 Aero

I trailered the car home and refinished all the internals first, then set about preparing the repair sections for refinishing. My original thought had been to repaint only where necessary, but ended up preparing the whole car after rectifying some other small dings and stone chips around the front. Everything was coated in Glasurit primer-filler and blocked back by hand, and once complete I trailered it back to my mate’s panel shop for the finishing coats. With three coats of Glasurit silver base and clear over the body and Aero kit, as per original, the result a few days later was nothing short of spectacular.

Back home, I refitted all the glass and trim, and attended to a few pre-existing service issues. After two weeks work on and off, it was finally complete. A registration inspection soon followed, which it passed with flying colours, and I pushed the car into daily use.

Drew 900 Aero

Drew 900 Aero

Originally my plan had been to travel a few thousand km’s and then sell it, but it was such a great car that I ended up keeping it for nearly five years while other cars came and went. In that time it proved to be totally reliable, with no real problems that I can recall.

The only minor hiccup came when an elderly man (I didn’t call him that at the time, mind you) scraped along the left rear quarter panel in a carpark with his Mitsubishi, so the task of repairing the damage was given to local experts Bocchino Motors, famed for Porsche and Ferrari repairs. Whilst the car was there being repaired, the proprietors hosted a delegation of Australian panel repairers, all of whom I’m told were amazed at the condition of the 900 being wheeled out of the spray booth. “It’s nice to see something that hasn’t been all pranged up”, a couple of them said.

Little did they know……….

Drew Aero 900

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