At $4,500, Could This 1979 Saab 900 EMS Make it Easy Being Grön?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

I love today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Saab 900 since its appended EMS designation mirrors the first three letters of my last name. Let’s see if it—and its asking price—makes as close a connection for you.

Are you someone who DIYs? I know I am. That being said, I like to think that I’m pretty savvy in my expectations about how I spend my time and what I want others to be doing. This is why I rarely order fajitas when a restaurant.


Yes, the bold combination of meats and vegetables is undeniably delicious and nutritious as all get out. It’s also an event food as the cast iron plate upon which the fajitas are served typically arrives at the table still sizzling and with the server’s admonishment that it’s dangerously hot. Who doesn’t enjoy the pomp and inherent risk involved in all that? The thing is—if I’m paying for food at a restaurant, I’m less thrilled in being expected to actually participate in its making, and having to load the fajita mix into rustic tortillas feels like I’m paying for a half-finished product. I’m not sure I’m onboard with that.

I mention this because yesterday’s 1989 Ford Bronco II XL managed a disappointing 55 percent Crack Pipe loss for its $6,995 price tag. That was despite its reasonably low miles, seemingly decent condition, and seller’s promotion that everything worked without flaw. This was an interesting old school truck that needed nothing on the buyer’s end other than the signing of a check or slipping the requested amount into the seller’s pocket. Oh well.

Let’s talk a little bit about SAAB. Now, there have been a couple of companies that have gone by that name, one that built cars and another that built airplanes. The bond between the two has long been intertwined and in fact in its later years SAAB cars used the motto ‘Born of Jets’ to solidify that connection. The reality however was that the company was born out of the cloud of war.


Svenska Aeroplan AB was founded on April 2, 1937 in Trollhättan, Sweden as part of that country’s effort to establish a domestic defense industry. This was in light of the looming aggression emanating from their neighbor across the Baltic, Germany. In an odd bit of irony, one of the first aircraft the new company built was a licensed version of the German Junkers Ju86K medium-heavy bomber. Expressing the typically Swedish nature of neutrality they shortly thereafter built a licensed version of the Northrop 8A-1 fighter/bomber.

Saab would prove a vital component in Sweden’s effort to survive the Second World War, but following the conflict the government contracts, and hence the major source of revenue, declined significantly. That led to the company seeking to diversify by entering the civilian aircraft market and, more importantly to us, the automotive category.


The first Saab car, the FWD model 92 featured an obvious connection to the company’s aircraft heritage. An aerodynamic body and expansive greenhouse set a template for the company’s auto products that would stand for decades to come.


This 1979 Saab 900 EMS is proof positive of that long lasting lineage. Just look at that amazing wrap-around windscreen. Dig the pointy nose and capacious hatch. This is not your typical ‘70s car. In fact, it’s really a ‘60s car seeing as its base, the 99, debuted all the way back in 1968. The 900 shared that model’s center section but added a longer nose, crazy articulating hood, and better integrated bumpers.

The engine in the 900 was the same Triumph Dolomite-based inline four as used in the 99, installed backwards and sitting atop its FWD transaxle. In the 900 however the B-series enjoyed a displacement increase and in the case of the EMS, fuel injection which gave the 2-litre mill about 116 horsepower.


The EMS was available only with the five-speed manual, a somewhat rubbery affair but far more engaging than the five-door GLE’s available three-speed automatic. On this car the stick shift lives in what could easily be the greenest interior ever known to man. Seriously, if you could ask someone how much more green this interior could be, the only possible answer would be, no more green.


The velour upholstery appears to be in excellent shape, as does the vacuum-formed door cards, carpet and dash. A set of modern digital gauges has been added in the console on the floor but the interior looks otherwise stock and of course, features the ignition key between the seats.


The exterior presents in equally nice fashion, with more green and some lovely ziggurat-evoking Inca wheels. In fact there are only a few visual impairments here. The plastic headlamp surrounds look a little wonky. This being a car from before composite lights were available in the U.S., it features sealed beams. That alignment issue could all be addressed by fitting a set of later lights which shouldn’t be too hard.

There’s also a somewhat alarming angle to the emergency brake handle indicating that either that the cables have been stretched, or that it simply needs to be adjusted. Other than that, the car looks to be in ready for Betty condition and is said by its dealer/seller to have been fully inspected and certified road-worthy. It also comes with a clean title.


Of course there is the issue with the odometer. You see, the seller says that the original unit failed at 200,000 miles and was replaced by its current one. That now reads 690,950 miles meaning that this Saab is closing in on having done a million miles over the course of its life. How much would you pay to be there when it finally hits that magic milestone?


The asking price is $4,500 and for that much you would be getting a car that would be welcomed at any Cars & Coffee meet or could stand in for occasional commuter duty with equal aplomb. No, it’s not quick, and you’re completely right that it’s as weird as a little toe. That doesn’t make it uninteresting however.


What do you think, is it $4,500 interesting? Or, does that price, and the mega-miles make this a grön Saab that’s asking too much green?

You decide!


Portland, OR Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Sam Lauer for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Share This Story

About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.