In Get Smart, secret agent Maxwell Smart fought KAOS and had the hots for his fellow agent, the luscious 99. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Saab 99 is also lust-worthy, but has its price missed it, by that much?
Saab isn't doing so well these days, having been back-watered by GM for years, and then handed off to Spyker, a niche builder of hyper cars with no experience at line production. Now they are, like pretty much everybody else, reaching out to the Chinese for financial shoring, but it's uncertain what will become of these Swedes in need.
Things didn't always look so grim for Saab, and in fact back in the ‘70s Sweden's second largest auto manufacturer gained favor among performance seekers as sort of an alt-BMW. What drove that was the 99 a car that featured a combination of a tight handling and tenacious front wheel drive platform, and a turbocharged version of an engine Saab licensed from Triumph.
Initially a 1.75-litre, the single overhead cam four was shared with Triumph's Dolomite, only here in the 99 the four sits backwards, and like they're BFFs, the transmission is tucked in underneath. Over time, that engine grew in displacement and power, culminating in a 2.0-litre that added extra umph to compensate for the heavier bumpers, door beams, etc that the safety-minder car maker piled on.
Seeking to compete not just on safety but also on performance, Saab toyed with buying 3.5-litre V8s from Triumph, which would have been a pretty sweet deal for the Brits seeing as how poorly the Stag, for which the engine was originally intended, was selling. Several test cars were built, but were deemed undesirable due to weight and space issues and instead Saab decided to create what would become one of the most iconic cars in their history - the 99 Turbo.
This 1978 99 Turbo represents the first year of production availability, and is hence a combi coupe - the only bodystyle offered that initial year. The gaping hatch added 10-inches to the overall length over the two-door notch, but made for a car that was as practical as it was peppy. With 143-bhp on tap, the Turbo offered 23% more ponies, and 40% more torque over the naturally aspirated engine, along with the requisite lag endemic to early pressure cooker engines. That was mostly due to the Garrett T3 turbo being relatively too large for the 2.0-litre engine, its displacement being insufficient to be able to spin that hulking turbo up with the desired alacrity.
The 2.0 in this silver over red 99 is claimed to be new ($4,000!), and as well, the seller says it runs great. He does say that it has great tries and breaks which makes you wonder about his attention to detail, and overall the 99 looks like it could use some detailing. There's a noticeable scrape on the passenger side fender, which has resulted in the loss of the black plastic fender lip cover, and the grille center has been pushed in giving it the impression that the car is stifling a sneeze. It's also kind of dirty, with mud crusting the tail lamp housing and hatch lip, while the combination of faded paint on the hatch and coprolitic bumpers make this look like some sort of zømbiemobile. Inside, there's a heavily bolstered bucket for the driver, but thankfully the rest of the interior - including the three-spoke wheel, shifter for the manual, and remaining Turbo-specific upholstery appear intact and in decent shape.
The exterior too, aside from the aforementioned flaws, appears perfectly serviceable and original right down the the crazy ziggurat alloys and rocker stripes above Saab's pelvic fin mid-car mudflap. Up top, the sunroof looks to function, and that along with the rubber duck spoiler and tack-on front airdam indicate this to be the sportiest of Saabs for the time.
The ad says very little, other than that the engine is new and that whole thing about the breaks, but the pictures present a car that looks to be in reasonable shape, plus it's on the Saab 99 Turbo Registry- not typically a home of dilettante owners. There's not that many of these 99 Turbos around any more, and the few that are offered for sale these days are usually either compulsively clean - with prices reflecting that - or, are fright pigs. This one's kind of in the middle - nice and original, but apparently not falling apart. The question is, has its seller priced it accordingly in the midfield? He's asking $8,900 for it, and it does have that claimed fresh engine. What do you think, is that a price that would make this Turbo Saab a total steal? Or, does that make this a Swede that would make your wallet bleed?
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