An embarrassment of riches for a Saab nut

So, here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Trollhattan. That’s not a bad place to be on a beautiful Spring day in Sweden, but I’d rather be in a picture like this…..

I’m sort of living in Sweden and sort of not. I don’t have an address here and I’ll be heading back to Australia next week after five weeks away from home in Hobart. But then I’ll be back again, and that’s the way things will go for much of this year. Sweden sometimes, the US or Britain or ….. wherever…… at other times. But mostly here. And that means that after getting an address sorted, I’m going to need some wheels.

I hate not having a car. I had my first car for months before I was ever allowed to drive it and I’ve been driving cars ever since. I admit that it’s not an overt act of environmental kindness on my part, but I just love the mechanical act of driving and the sensory high of being on the road and seeing the world at speed (you get to see more of it that way – that’s my excuse).

I can almost hear your question now – you work for a car company and you don’t have a company car? No. There is a scheme under which I could acquire one, but there are taxation implications and given my status here, well….. it’s complicated. So I’m going to take the opportunity to do what a lot of Saab lovers would love to do – scour Sweden for the [very affordable] classic Saab of my choosing.

And what an embarrassment of riches this country can offer a classic Saab nut like me (or you).

It didn’t last long before being sold, but just last week I saw a Saab 96 V4 for sale with just 37,000 kilometers on the clock. It was a mint greet type color and looked to be in fantastic condition (purists, forgive me for not knowing the name of the colour and for showing a different colour here). I don’t remember the exact price in Swedish, but it was somewhere in the order of a mere 50,000SEK, which is probably less than half of what the car would sell for in my home market, in Australia.

Still, even the fact that you can readily buy Saab V4 vehicles here is amazing enough to an outsider like me. As I sit here and write this, Swedish website Blocket has around 30 Saab V4’s of various vintages for sale, including a red 1968 Saab 96 at a price that would make a few Australian fans, men that I know personally as big proud Aussie males, cry like five year old boys.

In terms of newer models, the Saab 9-5 SportCombi can be had for a song and even upper echelon versions of the Saab 9000 like the Aero and CSE are readily available, albeit at prices that don’t differ too much from my home market.

There are a few specific models here in Sweden that still fetch what I’d call decent prices, if and when they come up for sale. The classic Saab 900 Convertible still fetches good money in good condition, as do most Saab convertibles. The Saab 99 EMS is very hard to find, as is a good classic 900 Aero. The old Saab 95 wagon is another rare bird, though a couple of examples are available, but in relatively poor condition. Expand the search criteria a little further and one can still find “tvåtakt” (two stroke) Saabs for sale, right back to a Saab 92B restorer from 1955 in working order (for just 45,000SEK).

One particular model of interest to some is the Saab 90. For those who aren’t familiar, the Saab 90 had the front of a Saab 99 and the rear end of a Saab 900 two-door. They were sold only in Scandinavian and British markets, which is why non-Scandis like me are often quite curious about them. I’ve seen plenty of them in my time here already and yes, there are plenty of them for sale, and in good condition, too. The Saab 90 was made right up until 1987, so there are still a lot of them on the road because they’re relatively simple and almost bulletproof.

Here’s a sample of what’s on offer right now here in Sweden (with no recommendations or assurances as to condition). Some are notable for their rarity, others for their price.

  • 1968 Saab 96 V4, 130,000kms, 22,000 SEK
  • Saab 96 Bullnose 2-stroke, rally prepared with a little work needed, 40,000 SEK
  • Saab 9000 Aero, immaculate in red, built by PA Johansson, 420hp, 80,000 SEK
  • Saab 9-5 SportCombi Aero, some work needed, 17,000 SEK

So what’s a Saabnut to do?

That 1968 Saab 96 is tempting me in all sorts of ways, in the same way that a stray cocker spaniel would tempt every dog lover on earth. I have to view this as a once-only chance to buy my classic Saab, however. This is a fairytale job for me and I hope it lasts forever, but few things do. I therefore have to view this opportunity for the rarity it represents – the chance to buy what for me, is a classic, at a knockdown price.

The holy grail for me would be a black Saab 99 Turbo, but they’re as rare as unicorns. There are a few 99Turbos here for sale at the moment but their condition and/or pedigree is questionable and I need something both authentic and reliable. It needn’t necessarily be black, but it has to be good.

A suitable compromise would a Saab 99 EMS but again, they’re pretty rare. There’s only one for sale right now and it’s located so far north I’d need the stars to align in an unprecedented way for it to be possible. Add to that the fact that it looks brown in the pictures and you might understand why I haven’t jumped at it yet. There are some brown cars that I really like, but I’d prefer a silver EMS, thanks.

Talking to a friend here in Trollhattan who knows about these things, he opined that the best turnkey solution for (pre-1985) classic, comfortable and reliable Saab motoring is probably the last generation of the Saab 99 non-turbos. The later models of the Saab 99GL were well appointed for the time, were fitted with 5-speed gearboxes and engines that love to cruise and refuse to quit.

And the best thing? There’s a ready supply of them for very little money – just what a classic Saabnut likes to hear.

The mission, then, will be to come back from my trip home and go car hunting with a vengeance. If there’s any place in the world to pick up a classic Saab, it has to be here in Sweden. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right one to come along.

And if you’re reading this and you have a 99 Turbo in your shed that you’d like to sell, feel free to drop me a note 🙂

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30 Comments

  1. >1968 Saab 96 V4, 130,000kms, 22,000 SEK

    Sounds good 🙂 I think I paid 12.000 SEK for mine, but that was 1992. Saw the car when I was on holiday in Trollhättan and only HAD to buy it… Now it has gone about about 200.000km and might be one of the most environment friendly V4s as it got in a catalyst incl. lamda-sond installed in 1993.

  2. I hope you find a car suitable to your needs, Swade! I am very fond of the Saab 9000 CDE but you might consider it as too new.

    The Saab 90 is a quite odd Saab “bastard”, strange looking and outdated even as new but that is maybe why it has a special charm. All of them are made in Finland, by the way. 😉

  3. Hi Steven,

    Sorry to hear you’ve been away from home for so long but I appreciate your commitment to your new job and Saab.

    I have difficulty imagining myself in your position and figuring out which Saab to buy. Is it ok to want one of each? 🙂

    Not that my opinion matters but I guess I would lean towards the slightly newer (late model) 99 or even a classic 900 or the rare 90. FYI there are a FEW Saab 90’s here in the U.S. though I think they snuck in from Canada – just met a fellow today who took our ‘93 900 Turbo, and he has a Saab 90… so they do exist.

    Anyway, I wish you well in choosing a Saab for your home away from home – and sorry – though we have a 99 Turbo, it is here in the U.S. and only leaving the garage with me or the Mrs. At the wheel.

    P.S. I WISH we were finally able to afford another new Saab… the new Saab prices are unbelievable here in CT, and when combined with Saab’s special financing options, they are unbeatable… but still too much for us right now. At least we just had two Saabs serviced at our dealer & we are glad to be sticking with Saab and remaining loyal customers. Meanwhile, I am trying to make anyone who is in the market for a new car aware of these deals.

    Cheers,

    Steve

  4. Swade,

    I have one. Yup, why wouldn’t I? And funny thing is, its in the barn. Motor ran when I parked it. Has the typical trunk hatch and lower door rust. You can have it my friend. I warn you though, it needs some work. Im sure the fuel system, which you’ve been through before, needs a revamping. The rest is brakes cosmetic and body. The interior is ok…

    Problem is my friend, Im in upstate NY…. Wish we were closure.

    Cheers Mate!

    DC

    1. Swade, If you take DC’s offer….I’ll even offer up my garage and all my tools for you to get it roadworthy again…. I’ll even test drive it till you ship it out. 😉

  5. I saw a SAAB 95 wagon in Wisconsin, USA that interested me. At only $2600 USD, it seemed like a very good deal. Hopefully, you will find something as interesting in Sweden.

  6. Decisions, decisions. I hope you find a suitable Saab, Swade.

    By the way, I thought you were heading to Melbourne with this new job. Did the traveling get to be so much that it made more sense to stay in Hobart?

  7. Similar problems here for me trying to find “the one”. However I’m not surrounded by Saabs like you are! Good luck and keep us all informed, you lucky dog. 🙂

  8. Wow, that’s some problem to have. Whatever you end up with I don’t think you can go wrong, they’re all pretty amazing choices. That’s part of what’s so cool about Saabs, no matter what you get you’re bound to have a winner. Can’t say that about just any car company.

  9. You should’t be afraid of going north to buy an old car. In sweden the best held cars is often found in the north an inland. Here they don’t throw salt on the roads as soon the teperatures drops.

    Just bought my first second saab, a 9000i my91. The only rust I can find is on the hood and a small dot at the back. One previus owner, 300.000 km on the meter, everything works including acc. 7500 SEK

    I am using this as a “utility” car instead of tranporting paint, cement and stuff in the TTiD XWD. And the interiuor is in such a good shape that I had to buy something to protect it!

    1. I’d be comfortable buying a car from distance back in Australia, but I guess it’s just a little intimidating here given that I’d want someone to look at the car first. And then there’s the question of how to get it down south. When you don’t speak the language, it’s more difficult to organise.

      1. From where live, there is only 700 km to thn. But if coarse, the language thing might be a problem on distance.
        But the tranportation can’t be hard to solve. Just drive it! 🙂

        You will probably be around here sometimes soon since the new 9-3 should hit the road to test end verify suff . And will most likely making some coverage, right? 😉

  10. I would recommend a classic 900 Cab.

    But it all depends on how you are going to use the car.
    If you are going to drive around a lot, with passengers, perhaps all year, a 9000 Turbo would be perfect.

    And if you are mostly going to attend car meetings around Trollhättan, then a smallish Sonett, a 95/96 V4 or a charming two-stroke 96 would be my choice. Preferrably a Sport. 🙂
    But you can perhaps borrow cars from the museum for those shortish trips?

    Good luck, anyway.

    1. I happen to have a 93F and it is just great in every way. Simple, awesome to drive and so pretty. Quite rare too.

  11. Hello Swade,

    Depends on what you want, I really like the 96, that is if you want to go retro. I have a sweet spot for the 99 combi cope(my father bought one in 75 and we had it until 91, when he bought a 9000).

    If you want to go for the times when SAAB made it, it is a 99 or 900 Turbo.

    I hate to sound like a bad salesperson in Bucharest, but whatever you choose is a good choice.

  12. Steven, reading your blog is a treat! Thanks for taking the time to make your posts so polished, the majority of the bloggers and columnists should come round here, watch and learn.

    Having said which, is there any other possibility but the RSS feed (which I don’t use) to be alerted whenever you post? It is my understanding you are now the boss of the Saab Cars FB fanpage, I am all for you beating your own drum there! Much more inspiring than being asked what we do with our Saabs every weekend…

    1. Hi Jeremi. Good to hear from you.

      Actually, I’m not running the FB presence. That’s handled by another. But I’ll drop them a note and see if there’s anything that can be done with regard to FB updates.

  13. I hope I am not getting too personal but is your wife going to be able to make these trips to Sweden with you? She sacrificed so much already allowing us to have a great deal of your time over at SU/TS. I hope she doesn’t have more of the same with this gig.

    At any rate it is getting a little more Swady around here which is a good thing. I was afraid this site would be too much of a press release type of site. Keep up the good work.

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