• This one-owner, special edition 1993 Saab 900 is up for sale on the Bring a Trailer auction website right now.
• Aside from its obvious charms, it’s important as one of the last few hundred coupes Saab built for the U.S. in the 900’s last model year. Having said that, the car was unchanged for more than a decade at that point.
• The auction is set to end next Friday, May 20, but bidding is already up to $33,065 with a week to go.
The Swedes had no sacrificial justification to build the same cars and fiercely resist change from the late 1970s all throughout the early 1990s. This wasn’t the immediate postwar era, for instance, when automakers had to stick with the limited parts they could get. No, Saab was just conservative, and cheap. And people loved them for it.
That brings us to this one-owner 1993 Saab 900 selling on Bring a Trailer (which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos). As the Commemorative Edition, the car’s owner explains, this 900 is one of the last 325 hatchbacks built for the U.S. in its final model year. Another 500 cars ended the convertible’s run for 1994. Esoteric discussions over headlights, grilles, and carbureted versus fuel-injected engines could go on forever. We’ll keep it simple: This was the same damn car Saab had been selling since 1978.
While an all-new 900 dropped in 1994 and later renamed itself the 9-3, General Motors helped develop those cars (it purchased half of Saab in 1990). Among the Saab faithful, the 900,000 900 models built during the first generation were the purest, most iconic expression of the brand before GM butted in. Its devoted owners were furious when GM killed the company in 2011, as they should have been.
When it was new, a 900 was the smart look among compact luxury cars. It was upscale without the glam, overengineered to a charming fault, and, with a double-wishbone front suspension and turbo engine, surprisingly quick and agile. Of course Saab built very safe cars. But where Volvo avoided speed and risky styling, Saab made Swedish cars desirable.
The graceful notchback slant of the huge tailgate, long overhangs, and expansive rear windows seem at total odds with the shorter hood and narrow wheelbase. That’s how your mind first processes a 900. Saab played with a cab-rearward layout like a sports car but kept the footprint of a front-wheel-drive family sedan. Yet the 900 doesn’t feel like one. These proportions, plus the curved windshield, rear fender vents, high-mounted spoiler, and three-spoke dish wheels, were a genuine nod to Saab’s jet fighter division. Then or now, it’s never an ordinary car.
The CE came only as a coupe in black over tan leather and featured a five-speed manual paired to Saab’s most powerful turbo-four. With 185 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 201 pound-feet of torque at a low 2800 rpm, the 2.0-liter engine was a true pioneer for turbocharged output and response (Saab had a regulator that could modify boost based on temperature and fuel octane, a big deal back then). This 900 CE appears to have all the correct parts, including the requisite headlight wipers and gray 15-inch wheels. There’s even an accessory louvered window cover. While the shift knob is worn out and the carpets have some strange cutlines along the transmission tunnel, the leather trimming the seats and door pockets is nearly crack-free. The back seat looks like no one ever sat there. The burl walnut trim is practically dripping.
The current owner spent $1800 to make repairs, which is entirely normal for an old Swedish car. It’s now selling for a third of its $33,065 sticker price (and can you believe Saab offered a six-year/80,000-mile warranty?). The Saab parts community is very strong, so all the second owner must do is gaze upon this beauty, twist the ignition key between the seats, and send the turbo gauge to the red zone. That’s good enough reason to build the same car for 16 years.
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