Carlsson on the roof is the nickname given to Saab driver and two-time Monte Carlo Rally winner Erik Carlsson. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 900 is named in his honor, but will you flip over its price?
Nobody was flipping yesterday's 360-powered Dakota drop top, which is a good thing as who knows how strong that roll bar really is. That muscle truck wannabe was neither fish nor fowl, but came away smelling foul due to its rank price and gained an accordant 81% Crack Pipe vote.
People usually say something smells fishy, or that there's something rotten in Denmark, when they come across hinkiness. Well, today's Saab 900 ‘Carlsson' (it's about half-way down) isn't quite Danish modern, but its monochromatic palette matches that of its home country of Sweden's most popular fish dish, pickled herring. And on top of that, it's a little hinky.
The 900 was a derivation of the precedent 99, sharing much of that car's body structure and mechanical layout. Where it differed was in the nose, which was elongated in the 900 to meet U.S. crash standards. That added length didn't mean more room for a bigger engine, however, as the 900 continued to use the Triumph-based four cylinder, which rode backwards and behind the transaxle, making it nominally a mid-engined car.
Here that engine is the 2.0-litre with the 16V head and high-pressure turbo. That combination was good for 185-bhp in non-cat form, and 175 for those with. Power is sent forward (or backward if you're the engine) through a five-speed manual gearbox and on to the front wheels which are suspended by a unique A-arm set up that is big reason why these cars handle so damn well. Out back, the hatch and back seats are held up by a beam axle that mounts with what amounts to a pair of Watts linkages, keeping the axle flat through the twisties.
Also flouting convention is the large three-door body which provides a hatch opening like a T-Rex' maw, and a wrap around windscreen that brings substance to the brand's Born of Jets tagline. These cars are known for being durable as long as not affected by the tin worm, and this one appears to be free of that ignoble rot. What it's not free of is extraneous body cladding and questionable remodeling, which is where the hinky begins. The seller claims this to been the recipient of a ‘Carlsson' kit, but that addition- as opposed to it being one of the 600 real Carlsson editions - doesn't necessarily add to its value. Real Carlssons, I'm pretty sure, were UK-only, and I'm also pretty certain that in the UK the passenger does all the steering and the driver only gets to change the radio stations and rummage through the glovebox. This car is left-hand drive.
There's also the issue with the model year, this one being claimed an '89, while the Carlsson package was offered for three years starting in 1990. In its favor, this car does appear to be a Saab. On the other hand, the modifications to the rear, including a tail light panel most frequently seen below pickup truck tailgates, makes it look like a Capri II from that angle. Up front, the hood gets some crazy bumps and scoops that seem a little excessively extroverted for the Saab's traditionally less flashy nature.
Like I said, hinky.
It does have the whale tail, Saab-branded back window louvers and AirFlow body kit just like a real Carlsson, so if you've always pined for one, this homage to the homage to Erik Carlsson may just be the Lingonberry in your pie. The seller lays claim to new arctic white paint (the Carlsson came in Black, Talladega Red, and White), and to having spent a crap-load of Kronor for new parts and service, including a highly desirable Phoenix Gold stereo and Motegi(?) rims. It's surprising that the investment was so much as, being Swedish, don't Saabs, like their fashionable Ikea furnishings counterparts, require only an allen wrench for service?
So, Carlsson or son-of Carlsson, or whatever it is, with 153,000 on the clock this 900 turbo seems well maintained and sorted. If the scoops and spats and whatnot are your bag you might even prefer this to a standard turbo or a more demur SPG. The seller of this one wants $9,500 for his Trollhatten Turbo, and it's up to you to determine whether that's the equal to the sum of its parts. What do you say, is this ‘Carlsson' worth that kind of cash? Or, does all the added bits subtract from this 900's value?
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