Saabs have always been eclectic, from the ignition lock between the seats, to their little mid-car mud flaps. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '86 900 is no exception, and for $4,500, it'd let your Swedish freak flag fly.
Whoa, despite hachiroku's protestations, yesterday's Sentra SE-R Spec-V suffered one of the more decisive losses here on NPOCP. Not only did it go down in a landslide 80% Crack Pipe vote, but it also had to experience a vitriolic spleen-letting, not only for its dealer fantasy price, but for its homeland security condition-orange paint job. Oh well, I'm sure we'll have some nice parting gifts for it on its way out.
And now, as they used to say on Monty Python, for something completely different.
Over the years a few auto makers have tried to break out from the pack - to do things differently - and as a result, they have suffered limited appeal owing to their idiosyncratic nature. One such car is the subject of today's consideration, but it, like a certain popular movie character, seems to have gained a cult following by merit of its unconventionality.
Your boy's. . . different, Mrs. Gump. By the time the principal speaks that memorable line, we already know that Forrest Gump's life will be outside the mainstream. Never the less, his mother cherished him just the same, and his unique qualities didn't hinder his ability to run like the wind. Had she been aware of them, back in the day, Forrest's mama might also have appreciated a Saab automobile, as they too marched to a different drummer, and, in turbo form, are pretty damn fast.
Today's 1986 900 Turbo SPG (Sports PackaGe - or Aero if your wallet is filled with euros instead of dollars) does manage to ply the same roads as regular cars. It runs on gasoline that may be pumped from your neighborhood station, rather than on some magical elixir made of unicorn urine and an ogre's flopsweat. It's even bereft of a gypsy's curse making its owners morbidly flatulent and compulsively social.
So it's not overtly weird or anything, but driving a Saab is still unlike driving any other car out there. First off is the aforementioned ignition switch placement, which locks the gear shift lever (in this case operating a five-speed manual which actuates through a rubbery exchange) rather than the steering shaft. Another difference was Saab's choice of engine placement (and here I'm talking about real Saabs, not the Opel-based abominations that followed GM's purchase of the Swedish brand). The Saab drivetrain places the engine backwards in the car, with the cam cogs saying howdy-do to the driver and passenger, and the transmission tucked underneath just like a Mini, but not sharing lubricants. Further differentiating the brand is the fact that the B202 16-valve engine in this 900 is a derivation of the 45-degree four cylinder originally designed to power the Triumph Dolomite Sprint and TR7. I mean, who else would look at a ‘70s British Leyland motor and say, yeah, that's what I want our company's future to rest upon? That's all topped with one of the more convolutedly designed hood mechanisms ever conceived.
Regardless of how weird all that is, or the implicit lack of durability implied by the Triumph motor base, the heavily redesigned 160-bhp twin cam has proven both reasonably reliable and powerful over the years (remember, my point of reference is British cars so my baseline for reliability may be different from yours), and this 900 has managed to move 173,000 under its tires over the past quarter century.
Another place that Saab stands apart from the crowd is in the offering of a moderately sized hatchback body style. While competing Volvos, BMWs and their ilk came mostly in three-box form, Saab realized that a rear opening bigger than Nathan Lane's after a rave Broadway opening would make for terrific utility. In fact, with the combination of that hatchback flexibility and the sporting nature of the free-revving four banger and Euro-taut suspension, the Saab 900 could accurately be classified as a Sport Utility. Suck on that, Ford Explorer.
The seller says that the car has been stored for the past 16 winters, only coming out, bear-like, in the spring. Additionally, he claims that the exhaust, shocks and other minor mechanical parts have been refreshed, and that the car has the red APC. On the down side, the headliner needs to be replaced, but if you've ever tried to book Liza for your Vegas show, you shouldn't find that daunting in the least.
Other than that, the car appears complete and is claimed to be in very good condition. One condition of purchasing it is the ability to come up with $4,500. That's not really a lot of cheddar, but again, need to have a jones for looking at the road through a big-ass wrap-around windscreen while trying to figure out why all cars don't have the ergonomics and orthopedically-designed seats of the Saab.
So, what's your take on this THANKFULLY NOT ORANGE Saab 900 SPG for $4,500? Is that a price that would make its weird your new wonderful? Or, does the accumulation of oddities and miles make the cost the most freakish thing about this Saab?
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