PCH, Turbo Malaise Edition: Saab 99 Turbo or Turbo Trans Am Indy Pace Car?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Turbo Malaise Edition: Saab 99 Turbo or Turbo Trans Am Indy Pace Car?

It's pretty tough to beat the most menacing assemblage of Lucas Electrics ever put in one $150,000 package when it comes to Hell Projects, and even a horrifically hooned Skyline GT-R couldn't come close to the Lagonda in yesterday's Choose Your Eternity poll. In hindsight, probably nothing short of a Citroën SM could have made a stand against the Aston Martin; lesson learned for next time! Today we're going to put on our W.I.N. buttons and our boogie shoes and check out some classic Turbo Malaise Hell Projects (not to be confused with Turbo Mullet Hell Projects)...


135 horsepower from a sub-2-liter engine was pretty good in 1978, and that's what the Saab 99 Turbo managed that year. In a car weighing just 2,600 pounds, 135 horses gave a power-to-weight pretty close to what you got from a '78 Corvette... at a price tag $500 higher than the top-of-the-line Chevy. Thanks to the magic of depreciation, however, it's possible to get a Saab 99 Turbo project for a fairly reasonable price nowadays. They're not so easy to find, what with the rust and breathtaking repair costs over the decades, but we've managed to find one for- you ready for this?- just 600 bucks! Yes, this '78 Saab 99 Turbo (go here if the ad disappears), which appears to be reasonably complete (if you count random parts in boxes), is available for just six Benjamins. The seller was going to put in a black interior and paint it metallic burgundy, and that plan must add value, right? It's got rust, including an 8" x 8" hole in the floor, the engine is out of the car and has a crack in "the manifold" (we're guessing exhaust). No problem! It's been sitting for years and the registration seems dodgy, but don't let that scare you away from the incredible Swedish potential of this Hell Project!

When you're talking about Turbo Malaise Hell, is there anything that can beat a carbureted draw-through turbo system? Why yes, there is: a draw-through turbocharging system that uses a computer Quadrajet! The computer Q-jet is fun enough when naturally aspirated, but bolt it to a hair-dried Pontiac 301 (an engine which itself is the essence of V8 Malaise) and the fun really begins. That's right, we're talking about the notorious Turbo Trans Am... and not just any Turbo Trans Am. We've found a genuine 1980 Indy 500 Pace Car Turbo Trans Am (go here if the ad disappears) for you! The price tag is a grand higher than the Saab's, but that's just because this car is more complete. Now, we're not musclecar purists around these parts, but there's really no choice with a Turbo Trans Am Indy Pace Car but to restore it to its full Malaise glory, 210 unreliable blown horses and all. Oh, sure, you could drop a modern fuel-injected turbocharged small-block Chevy in there and get reliability and power, but then you wouldn't be experiencing the full nostalgic impact of 1980. This one needs some work, no getting around that; first, there's rust (from the car "sitting for years back east"), and we're not talking about harmless surface rust. It doesn't run, but the seller seems to feel that it'll fire right up with the addition of a new distributor, and maybe he or she is right!

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The Saab ad lists nothing but potential and options that may or may not be on that car. As it appears to be missing the entire front grill and it's only going to run hot when you get it put back together... there is no question.

Hell, the TA even has a parts car you could buy as part of the deal. Far too easy.