This is my kind of entry. Great car, good feelings, plenty of text, and I didn’t have to write a word of it (beyond this introduction).
Ed K, as you’ll plainly see, is a Saab nut and he’s just acquired one of the Saabs of his dreams.
This is his story.
Just wanted you to know that I purchased a Saab 99 Turbo yesterday largely thanks to your raving about these cars over the years.
I am an American living in Budapest, Hungary, and have been on the lookout for a Saab 900 T16S for quite some time now. In Hungary, there is an incredibly strong Saab following, but good examples are near impossible to come by (as Saabs were only first sold in Hungary in 1990).
About a week ago, an opportunity came up to purchase a Saab 99 Turbo which was too good to pass up, even though I had my heart set on a 900 T16S/Aero. This car has had a large amount spent on it over the last ten years, and has been the subject of two magazine articles in Hungary. Here is a link to one of the articles which was from last year, including a lot of nice pics of the car.
We cut the deal last Friday and signed the paper work this last Monday. I spent a good three hours with the car and the previous owner last Friday, and the following is the state of the car:
The history of the car is very interesting. In the early 90s, it was very fashionable for Hungarians to purchase used older cars abroad and bring them back to Hungary. Of course Hungarians, formerly stuck behind the Iron Curtain, were amazed that older Audis and Mercedes were within their financial grasp. If something went wrong, the car was often taken off the road for lack of spare parts in Hungary and lack of funds.
This is what happened with this car which was imported from Switzerland in 1991 by a young Hungarian gentlemen. The oil cooler leaked, and the local Hungarian mechanic simply deleted it from the cooling system due to a lack of parts and a lack of funds. Of course the turbo blew pretty soon thereafter and the car was taken off the road. It allegedly only had 133,000 KMs on it at the time. The guy I purchased the car from purchased it in the early 2000s after a ten year hiatus, during which it was in storage. Since buying it, he has put about 20,000kms on it, so it has about 155,000kms on it now.
I had very limited experience with Saab 99s until I drove this car. I am much more familiar with Saab 900s. What I consider to be my first car was a 1981 GL. As you may be aware from the comments I posted when you purchased your 9000 Aero, I own a 1997 Saab 9000 Aero which I have completely restored mechanically with Abbot Racing parts over the last year. I intend to treat it to a re-spray in the spring.
The following are my impressions of the 99 turbo:
The previous owner was a typical Saab person. In selling the car, selling to the right person was more important to him than the purchase price. I honestly feel honored to have been considered worthy of this car. I feel like I am inheriting a legacy and taking on a responsibility more than just buying a car. As part of the deal, I promised the previous owner that I would give him the right to make a first offer if I ever chose to sell. He acknowledged that I probably will never sell this car, which I think is right. He was selling for personal reasons which I understand and respect.
Over the last two weeks, I have been doing a lot of research on the 99 Turbo, and have found a smaller but tighter knit community on the Internet than with respect to other Saab models. I have always followed the 9000 and C900 scene, but never the 99 scene till now. The 99 turbo Internet community have already been an enormous help. According to certain sources, there are approximately 250 of these cars left on the road, which sounds to me incredibly low given that 10,000 of these were manufactured in total. (Sounds low to me, too – SW)
As to next steps, I am putting the car into winter hibernation. The roads will start to be salted in Hungary in the next couple of weeks. During the winter months, I am planning to source US style headlights. I love the car with the euro headlights, but feel that with the four headlamp US lights the 99 Turbo it is the cat’s meow. I’m also thinking of sourcing repros of the Turbo sticker which was installed from factory on the bottoms of the doors along the side of the car. I asked the previous owner’s permission to do these things – this is the kind of responsibility which goes with buying a car of this type.
Also, it seems that the car needs a new radiator. While it was being restored, thieves broke into the mechanic’s garage and stole the original turbo radiator (I wonder if they even knew what they were stealing), and a regular 99 radiator was installed which is smaller. Or maybe I will just settle back and enjoy the car in the condition it is now for a period.
I’m totally over the moon about the purchase. I was speaking to my wife about it and I feel like I own the first and the last of an important era in motoring. Saab launched into the premium segment with the 99 Turbo and it set the tone of the next two generations of cars for Saab. This was the ultimate golden era in Saab’s history which started with the 99 Turbo in 1978, and ended (in my humble opinion) with the last 9000 Aero officially produced in 1997. I own both the first and the last of this golden age, and feel very privileged to do so.
It makes me all the sadder that the Saab that we all know and love no longer exists. At least we have models of this company’s illustrious past which we can still enjoy today….