AER-085 is alive

Saab 900

Click on that baby to enlarge.

I haven’t written much about the 900 since I got it back here and there’s a few reasons for that. Firstly, there were (and still are) a few issues with some leaks from the engine. Perhaps the 10-hour journey from Sydney to Melbourne shook it up a little.

I’m not sure where all the leaks are, but there’s about 4 remaining. One is from the rocker cover, which should be fairly simple. Another is a minor crack in the gearbox housing, which won’t be so simple, but should be do-able nonetheless. The power steering pump got replaced yesterday as that was another leaky culprit.

The other reason why I haven’t written much is because I really wanted some time to get used to the car. To be honest, my first few weeks with it were a little disappointing. It’s one of the downsides of getting out of a Viggen and into a 22 year old 900. It felt slow and the rattles and creaks drove me crazy.

I also wondered whether everything was working OK as it didn’t seem to be boosting unless you really gave it the beans. I had the car serviced yesterday and I told Steve the Saabtech to take it for a run and see what he thought. When I came to pick the car up a few hours later he promptly told me that I was an idiot, that the car was boosting up to 15 pounds and running very-nicely-thank-you-very-much.

Aside from my concerns over the leaks, I had largely got comfortable with the way the car was running by then anyway. It was good to get a reassuring word, though.

So here it is. In addition to the service it got yesterday, Steve also cleaned it up to the point where it would pass the inspections required to be registered here in Tasmania. I managed to get the inspection report and the old plates to the registration office around five minutes before closing time yesterday. So the AER-085 plates are now live and affixed to their rightful spot on the car.

Saab 900

Despite my initial concerns, how can a 900 do anything but wriggle its way into your heart? It’s definitely happened here. What it misses in quickness and quietness in comparison to the Viggen, it more than makes up for in character and pure driving fun.

I’ve come to think of it as a more sophisticated 99 Turbo. It’s got the power equipment that I always used to miss in the 99, without having the electronic nannies that tend to cut in and interrupt the driving (or crashing) experience. It’s also got that all-important 5th gear that I always wished for in the 99T.

On the road, you really do notice the turbo lag. This is the first of the 16 valve engines with the Garrett turbo and being a bigger unit it really does give you the time to sit back and have a cup of tea prior to kicking in and adding some life to the driving experience. Once it gets going, though, there’s plenty of power there to enjoy.

It’s an interesting aural experience, too, in this car. It’s got a fatter 2.5 inch exhaust system and a Turbosmart manual boost control and BPV. There’s plenty of Pssssh action going on as you progress through the gears. It was heaps of fun in Sydney as there’s tunnels everywhere as you head out of the city. Here in Hobart there’s no tunnels anywhere, but it’s still noticeable.

Saab 900

The fun thing about this car is that like the 99 Turbo that I came to love so much, it feels a little faster than it is and it just goes right where you point it. I haven’t really taken it for a good run through the bends yet (maybe a Grasstree Hill run is in order, Bill?) but I think it’d be good fun if I had the courage to really give it a crack. I have to keep this car running in good order and at 22 years of age and with the consequences I’d have to endure from my wife, giving it a crack really is a matter of courage.

The interior is a little noisy in line with its age, but really comfortable and looks great. The dark red interior has been a hit with everyone that’s checked out the car.

Saab 900

A couple of owners ago, the stock Alpine cassette player bit the dust, but the owner had the good sense to install an Alpine CD player that retained a similar look to the original stock unit. Unfortunately they wired the CD player through the ignition so you can’t listen to radio with the key in the accessories position. Another positive note, however, is the Alpine speakers in the rear parcel shelf. Having speakers in your parcel shelf usually means that it’s hard to take it out to load up the car. In this instance, they’ve wired the speakers using cords that plug into a jack, so it’s just a case of unplugging them and then you’ve got your full bigmouth load capacity with no hassles.

Still on the matter of the stereo system, there’s a graphic equalizer installed as well, though the current unit isn’t wired through it. Simon, the guy I bought the car from, said that there was some difficulty in wiring it all up. I may, in time, get someone to look into that.


I’m hoping that even if the Viggen returns to our driveway, I’ll be able to retain this car as well. It’s a genuine classic and I’ve always wanted a collection. Two cars is a collection of sorts, isn’t it?

Should some funding become available in the future there’s a number of things that I’d like to do. As you can see, the car looks great from a distance but up close there’s a number of substantial scratches that need to be attended to as well as two small and quite fixable dents. The front seats could use some rejuvenating in the cushion department and the seat heaters aren’t working at this point.

Engine wise I guess it’s best to just get it clean and keep it reliable, though the temptation is there to add a few bits and pieces as funds become available. One of those smaller, quicker Mitsubishi turbos might be fun.

All in all, I’m getting to the point where I’m quite pleased to be back in a 900 again. The first time I drove a 5-speed 900 was back in the late 1990s. That was quite a rush and this car didn’t deliver the same feeling initially. But it’s wearing down my reluctance, slowly but surely, with its truckloads of character and surefooted driving experience.

As Eggs n Grits is so fond of sayng: Vive la C900!

Saab 900

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  1. That is one fine looking car. I hope it will give you plenty of fun. 🙂

    I’m considering a red 900 convertible (instead a 9000 Aero I’m looking for) but we’ll see what the next few months will bring. 🙂

  2. Glad you’re having some fun with the c900. Hope that crack can be fixed. Let us know how it works out. I wish car makers would offer some interior color options today, like they did back then.

  3. Agreed, Ted. The Green interior on my old 99T was a classic, and I recall that the old 2 strokers and early 99s had some interesting colors too.

    Bring it back!

  4. Swade, I’m glad the car is working out for you. You realize that my 88 900 looked very similar to yours by the time I sold it — everything but the Aero panels.

    One thing I’ve been wondering, though, is how economical it was to ship the car from the mainland to Tasmania. Care to share? I live near Lake Erie, but have never been ferried across due to the high cost.

  5. Andy, I can’t remember the exact cost, but my fare on the boat was around $230 and the car was around $70. You can normally get a fare much cheaper than the $230 I paid, but mine was a late booking.

    I used 2 tanks of fuel along the way ($110 or thereabouts) and the airfare to Sydney was….an interesting story. I booked a cheap fare for about $120, but it was for 7.40pm rather than the 7.40am I thought I’d booked. I ended up having pay for another fare that morning in order to get there during the day.

    All up, it cost me more than it should have. You can pay a transport company around $300 or $400 and get it done for you, but it was much more fun this way and ideally, shouldn’t have been as expensive as it was for me if planned properly.

  6. First up, don’t change to the later mitsu turbo, ever. Although my ’93 900T with lucas FI, mitsu and redbox has significantly more hp than the ’85 Aero it is nowhere near as much fun. Just change back a cog on a twisty bit of uphill road, apply the boot factor, wait a bit and then see if you can fight back the smile. Nuts!

    And the faults can be features too, like how no novice could get the recently rebuilt ‘box into fifth. I’m going out on the proverbial limb and saying that this car is more fun than a 99T, or a Viggen for that matter. Nuff said.

    Bring it over. My ’85 (Black Turbo?) is not yet registered due to leaks also (brakes and exhaust) and the need for new shocks all round.

    …and give the car a crack.

  7. Stellar photos & writing about that great lookin’ 900 Turbo, Swade!
    It’s one of those cars that a demand
    those “look-backs” after parking it. Many
    many look-backs. It’s a beauty!

  8. So pretty.

    …My car spun out on a back road yesterday and I hit a rock. I can’t believe it only left a scratch. I’m almost expecting to find out that I knocked a part loose or something. Today on the way back home, I almost slammed into the guy in front of me because a whole line of cars stopped all at once…I cannot believe (again) that I didn’t rear-end the guy. I thought my brakes were shit, but they were wonderful. It scared the hell out of me, but after everything my brakes have done for me this weekend…arg, thank God I drive a Saab. I’d probably be dead otherwise :p

  9. Thanks for the kind words, gents.

    Bill, let’s give it a crack then. Next Saturday? Drew, you in? Richo – coming down? No? Slack! I’ll shoot around an email.

    Jeff, glad to hear your OK and I hope the car is too. Take care of that baby.

  10. Bah, I’m a teenager, and therefore indestructable. I’m much happier my car (who is closer to a 30something in car years) isn’t hurt :p

  11. Congrats again swade. You have two pieces of Saab history IMHO. :D.

    Now you gotta fill the hole with a 9000 aero one day :). You know you will…

    I had pretty much been converted from Viggens -> 9k aero’s… but I saw a blue vig wit tinted windows, thats all… the other day… it was gorgeous… ive decided i want a LB viggen…

  12. Steve, Bill

    Not a chance the black 900 will be there. It doesn’t like rain, and the rev limiter’s set on 2500rpm. Oh, and it doesn’t go on gravel roads.

    I’d bring the gold car, but am currently fixing bumpers. Looks like it might have to be either the 95 or 96 then, in which case I might need a 20 minute head start.


  13. That 2500rpm must be only for when he feels sporty and wants to get some kick from turbo, because that´s where small Mitsu starts to give some rush 😉

    Swade, that car looks very good! I Wish I´d found such pre-´87 Aero in so good condition (which is nearly impossible in Finland, where rust eats everything in 15 years).

    I can imagine, that it was a disappointment at first after driving the Viggen. But when you get used to it, the easiness etc. I believe you´ll fell in love with that car! There´s so many things on c900 which newer cars cannot beat. You´ll find you them slowly one by one.

    When we had neat 9000 Aero and basemodel c900, just guess which one was my wife´s choise for everyday use always? You guessed it right. C900. Especially when weather is bad, during wintertime, c900 is hard to beat. It´s so easy to handle, and it´s very practical in so many ways.

    Vive la C900! 🙂

  14. Drew’s car doesn’t like rain, sun, gravel, bitumen, cement, petrol, keys, running or air. If we can eliminate those and keep to under 2,000 revs…..ah bugger it, just bring the 95.

    Bill, no detailing, but I did give it a wash that afternoon. Scrubs up nice from a distance.

  15. “Two cars is a collection of sorts, isn’t it?”

    Swade: doesn’t Mrs Swade have a Saab 9k?
    If so, that makes 3 Saabs in your family – and that’s a collection/fleet in my book!

  16. Vive la C900!!

    Except that most of the time, I say, ‘Vive le C900!’ forgetting that cars are feminine gender in French. ‘La voiture.’

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