The best car I’ve ever owned – Mark’s Saab 900S

1991 Saab 900 S

In this series, we’re celebrating the cars that made us happy. The ones that surprised us and made us smile (even if they made us walk once in a while). They may not be the best on paper, but they proved themselves on the road with more smiles-per-gallon than anything else we’ve driven.

Today we hear from Mark McCourt, Associate Editor at Hemmings Motor News. He writes some things that a new Saab corporate owner would do well to think about as they contemplate the possibility of new vehicles.

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It may seem convenient, considering your affiliation, but I really feel my current daily driver, a 1991 900 S, is probably the best car I’ve ever owned. And I think that all comes down to expectations.

My first car was wonderful for what it represented, my second (and first Saab – a 1991 9000 Turbo) was awesome for its power and capability. My current Volvo C70 is a thing of real beauty. But it’s the old 900 that plucks my heartstrings.

As a teenager growing up in a Volvo-driving household, I actively hated the C900 for its weird styling. But I learned to respect the 9000, and buying two 9KTs edged me toward accepting all Saabs. I may have dabbled, but it wasn’t until I took a chance on this $1,400 car that I was sucked fully into the Saab world.

You don’t expect much when you spend so little on an old car, and I really only figured I’d have it a few seasons before moving it on. But it got under my skin completely for its clever, thoughtful, purposefully-different-and-better design touches and its eager, inherently sporty personality. The fact that it’s never left me stranded, or wanted much besides regular maintenance, has only endeared it to me more. I’ve had it for nearly five years and 40,000 miles, and I still enjoy improving it in little ways as I go along. I can’t imagine letting it go, even as the body starts to rust away.

It’s also the people that have drawn me in, the Saab “cult” as my father calls them. They’re such a friendly, engaging and enthusiastic bunch of people. If you’re susceptible, it’s hard to resist the pull. And why would I? The Saab community kinda feels like home.

Mark M.

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3 Comments

  1. Mark, I’m right there with you. Your 900S looks so beautiful, I won’t spoil it with a photo of my faded, rusted, Edwardian Gray ’91 C900 hatch. We acquired our car for my daughter who has refused to learn to drive a manual transmission. After the dreadful autotragic passed on, we converted the car to a five speed and its real life began, sort of like a race horse with the blinders removed. I’ve had SAAB Turbo!s, and I have a beautiful, rust free SPG, yet, there’s something about the normally aspirated 900 that talks to me. Great pep, great handling, astounding hatchback utility. I could own/drive this car forever, though the tin worm is having its way now. Nothing else has as much soul as a classic 900. My daughter? She has moved on to a C900 Turbo! convertible. Maybe when that autotragic goes I can make that a 5 speed as well…

    1. I tried to teach my sister to drive a manual once. I gave up and had to accept counseling afterwards. Thankfully I didn’t have to use my Saab!

  2. You are too kind, Thor. Trust me, this photo makes the car look WAY better than it actually is. It’s wonderful that you’re enjoying your ’91 equally, if not more so, now that you’ve freed its spirit with the gearbox swap.

    Markac- I’ve taught a couple of people to drive manual in this car. With 187,500 miles now on the clock, I’ve feel a bit badly about subjecting it to that abuse, but I figure it will need a new clutch at some point…

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