For $2,500, Could This 1997 Saab 900SE Talladega Be A Record-Setting Deal?

Illustration for article titled For $2,500, Could This 1997 Saab 900SE Talladega Be A Record-Setting Deal?
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Saab is a special edition, named for the Alabama racetrack that’s among the fastest on the NASCAR circuit. Let’s see if that will make for a fast sale.

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If you want to go fast, a racetrack is an appropriate place to do it. It’s not uncommon to find Porsche owners testing the mettle of their cars at track day events. There they can unleash the capabilities of their cars that traffic laws and common sense forbid on more public venues.

Should you be interested in such an endeavor, you might very well have been likewise interested in last Friday’s 2007 Porsche Cayman. As a matter of fact, pretty much all of the comments showed some level of attraction to the car. And at $16,900, its price proved to be just as much of a looker as did the car. That resulted in a solid 78 percent Nice Price win for our week-ending contest.

Here we are, however, in a new week, and with a much older car. This 1997 Saab 900SE is still a pretty handsome car, and it has a unique single-year equipment package that makes it all the more special. That package is indicated by the badge on the back that, in a jaunty script, reads “Talladega.”

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Photo: Craigslist

Now you might be wondering why a Swedish hatchback would be carrying the name of one of NASCAR’s most venerable tracks on its butt. Don’t worry, there is a method to this madness. No, Saab didn’t try to sneak the 900 into the NASCAR circuit as some sort of Smokey Yunick-like spoiler. What the company did instead was use the superspeedway to set a world record for sustained speed by a production car. The Swedes made these runs on two separate occasions.

The special edition 900se Talladega celebrated the second of those, the “The Saab 900 Talladega Challenge 1996.” The challenge consisted of six Saab 900s — naturally aspirated and turbo fours plus V6 models — run at each model’s maximum speed over the course of 8 days. At the end of the run, a 900 Turbo set the record with a total distance of 25,000 miles at an average speed of 140 miles per hour. That beat Saab’s previous record, set 10 years earlier in a 9000 sedan, by almost 7 miles per hour.

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Photo: Craigslist

While mechanically stock, the record-setting cars were outfitted with roll cages and special seats accommodating five-point harnesses. In contrast, the road-going Talladega models were fitted with leather and every conceivable option Saab could throw at them.

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This one is missing one notable Talladega feature, and that’s the model’s unique seven-spoke BBS 17 inch alloys. In their place are a set of three-spoke Aero wheels. They look proper on the car, but the BBS wheels would be a nice inclusion. Other Talladega indicators are color-matched bumpers and mirrors, polished metal interior door levers, and leather trim on the seats and door panels.

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Photo: Craigslist
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The bodywork on the car looks to be in decent shape, with no major rust evident. The paint does appear to need a good going-over, and some surface bubbling on the hatch should get some attention.

The interior has seemingly fared worse. The car’s 160,000 miles are evident in the grimy door cards and the driver’s seat leather, which honestly looks like one of those NASA pictures of Jupiter’s moon Europa. We don’t get to see much else in the cabin, and the engine bay remains a mystery as no pictures are provided of that either.

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Photo: Craigslist

If there were, what we’d see would be a 185-horsepower, 2-liter DOHC four with a Garrett turbo puffing it up. The engine is paired with a five-speed stick, and the whole thing sits sideways and powers the front wheels. The ad claims that the car has “Recently had a lot of maintenance caught up on it.” That’s OK, but I’m sure we’d rather hear that it’s been properly maintained its whole life rather than had one cram session set on getting things right.

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The ad also claims to have a bunch of aftermarket intake and ECU parts that the seller was planning to bolt on the car but now wants to sell separately. I’m pretty sure the general consensus will be that the seller can keep those.

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Photo: Craigslist
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The price for the car without those bits is $2,500, and it’s now your job to decide if that’s a deal on this old Saab with an interesting provenance. What do you say, does this Talladega special seem like a good use of $2,500? Or, does that price have you thinking this car is a broken record?

You decide!

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Frederick, Maryland, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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

DISCUSSION

I like Saabs and always will. But this is a rebodied Opel that has been heavily leaned upon by Saab engineers; fortunately for this model I like Opels too. When I was a kid, we had two cars: a SAAB 96 and an Opel Kadett Rallye. They were eclectic cars to learn to drive in, I can tell you.

This example, even in good running condition, isn’t worth a lot. It’s old and from an orphaned manufacturer, a definite turnoff on the used market. The Turbo is worth a bit more but in my mind the Talladega badge isn’t amplifying the price at all. It’s just an homage to the event which was, admittedly, pretty hardcore.

I would be fascinated to know whether this example has the Sensonic clutch. That’s pretty cool tech. It’s a manual transmission car but the clutch is entirely automated and Saab stopped offering it in 1998.

Anyway, it’s all moot. The ad has been pulled. Somebody snapped it up.

I wouldn’t have paid it but I guess it was a Nice Price after all.