• This one-owner special edition 1993 Saab 900 is up for sale on the Bring a Trailer auction website right now.
• Aside from its obvious charms, it is significant as one of the last few hundred Saab coupes built for the United States during the last model year of the 900s. That said, the car remained unchanged for more than a decade at that time.
• The auction is due to end next Friday, May 20, but bidding is already up to $33,065 a week from now.
The Swedes had no sacrificial justification for building the same cars and fiercely resisting the change of the late 1970s throughout the early 1990s. This was not the immediate post-war era, per for example, when automakers had to stick to the limited number of parts they could get. No, Saab was just conservative and cheap. And people loved them for it.
That brings us to this one owner 1993 Saab 900 sell on Bring a Trailer (which, as Car and driver, part of Hearst Autos). As the car’s owner explains in the commemorative edition, this 900 is one of the last 325 hatchbacks built for the United States in its final model year. Another 500 cars ended the convertible’s run in 1994. Esoteric discussions of headlights, grilles and carbureted or fuel-injected engines could go on forever. We’ll keep it simple: this was the same damn car that Saab had been selling since 1978.
While an all-new 900 dropped in 1994 and later renamed the 9-3, General Motors helped develop these cars (it bought half from Saab in 1990). Among the Saab faithful, the 900,000 900 models built during the first generation were the purest and most iconic expression of the brand before GM stepped in. Its devoted owners were furious when GM killed the company in 2011, as they should have been.
When new, a 900 was the smart look among compact luxury cars. It was premium without the glamour, overengineered to a charming flaw and, with double-wishbone front suspension and a turbo engine, surprisingly quick and nimble. Of course, Saab has built very safe cars. But where Volvo eschewed speed and risky style, Saab made Swedish cars desirable.
The graceful slant of the huge tailgate, long overhangs and large rear windows seem totally at odds with the shorter bonnet and narrow wheelbase. That’s how your mind first treats a 900. Saab toyed with a rear-cab layout like a sports car, but retained the imprint of a front-wheel-drive family sedan. Yet the 900 doesn’t look like it. These proportions, along with the curved windscreen, rear fender vents, raised spoiler and three-spoke parabolic wheels, were a real nod to Saab’s fighter jet division. Then or now, this is never an ordinary car.
The CE was only available as a black-on-beige leather coupé and featured a five-speed manual mated to Saab’s most powerful turbo-four. With 185 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 201 lb-ft of torque at a low 2800 rpm, the 2.0-litre engine was a true pioneer of turbocharged power and response (Saab had a governor that could change boost depending on fuel temperature and octane, a big deal at the time). This 900 CE seems to have all the right parts, including the required headlight wipers and 15-inch gray wheels. There’s even an accessory louvered window cover. While the shift knob is worn and the carpets show strange cut lines along the transmission tunnel, the leather that trims the seats and door pockets is almost free of cracks. The back seat gives the impression that no one has ever sat in it. The burl walnut trim is practically dripping.
The current owner spent $1800 on repairs, which is normal for an old Swedish car. It’s now selling for a third of its sticker price of $33,065 (and can you believe Saab offered a six-year/80,000-mile warranty?). The Saab parts community is very strong, so all the second owner needs to do is stare at this beauty, turn the ignition key between the seats and send the turbo gauge into the red zone. That’s reason enough to build the same car for 16 years.