Saab 900 S | Shed of the Week

Don't let the Vauxhall Cavalier platform put you off; as ever, Saab did things its own way…

By Nic Cackett / Friday, 7 October 2022 / Loading comments

As the cold weather approaches, Shed’s thoughts turn to weatherproofing the family abode and specifically to fixing at least some of the rot holes in the porch woodwork. Normally, thinking is as far as he gets, but 2022 will be different. This year Shed has been able to secure the services of a hefty Swede called Bengt who has just moved into the village. Bengt is about the same size and build as Thor, nearly as handy with a hammer, and most remarkable of all willing to work at Shed’s Scroogelike rates of pay. 

So, while Mrs Shed enjoys the experience of a big lad banging away in her vestibule, Shed is more interested in Bengt’s well-informed opinions on classic Scandi metal, like this week’s sub-£1,500 (well, exactly £1,500 if we’re being pedantic) offering, a 1995 900S from the glory days of Saab. 

Again, the pedants might say that 1995 was six years into the less-than-glorious days of General Motors’ involvement with Saab. Five years after our 900 was built, in 2000, GM increased its share in the company from 50 to 100 per cent. A decade or so later, the combined effects of global financial disarray and their own unique management techniques resulted in GM hastily offloading its ailing acquisition to Spyker. After various ill-fated attempts by Chinese consortia to revive and leverage the brand from there the Saab name fell dormant. 

Will it ever resurface? Who knows. What Shed does know is that this 900 looks a lot better than the GM reputation would suggest. The worst advisories in the last 16 years’ worth of MOT reports have been worn tyres, slightly blocked washer jets and minor exhaust blows. There has been just one note in the last six years, namely some light power steering fluid seepage noticed in last December’s test. 

What’s likely to pop up this year? As with the fate of Saab, nobody knows, but the pics in the ad, the low mileage, the fully stamped dealer service history for the car’s first ten years and the enthusiastic words of the vendor suggest the answer could well be ‘not a lot’. 

If that turns out to be the case, what might your next year’s motoring be like? Well, the first thing to repeat is that this is not a pre-1994 classic 900. It’s a 1995 ‘New Generation’ transverse-engined 900 based on the Cavalier/Calibra platform. The 2.3-litre 16-valve non-turbo 150hp four-pot under the bonnet has some heritage, though. It goes back not just to old Saab times but, with powerful enough binoculars, old Triumph times. It’s a solid and simple unit, the kind that Shed really likes because he can sort so many issues by way of simple old-school remedies like checking the plugs, replacing the distributor cap, or, for that really professional look that the old villagers like, by squirting Easystart all over the engine bay.

If all else fails he can always ask for a lend of Bengt’s hammer. These 900s were injected and they did have ECUs which could conk out over time, causing rough/no running, but that’s pretty rare. Heater hoses blow but premature engine blowups as a result of snapped cambelts (which happened quite a bit on the 2.5 V6s) won’t be applicable here as the timing is done by chain.

Paired up with a 4-speed auto box, as here, the 1,295kg 2.3i will deliver ten-second 0-60 times, mpg figures in the mid-20s, and annual vehicle tax demands of £295. The last two of those are the downsides of old-school motoring, but on the plus side there’s plenty of nice wood and leather here to add a bit of luxury to your day. Bengt says he’d jump on it no problem and that age only matters if you’re made of cheese. He quite likes the Saab too.

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