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.
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.
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.
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!