900 dreaming

Turning back the clock with one of Saab’s best

For a diversion from the world of new cars, I have a Saab 900 to drive today. Not just any old 900 but the desirable turbocharged, 16-valve model with a soft top, ideal for these balmy October mornings.

This one belongs to Saabtec, the Saab specialist run by Richard Elliott. Richard kindly lent me his ‘work-in-progress’ car while mine is in for some routine maintenance as I confessed I’d never taken the wheel of one of these iconic vehicles. So, out of wanton pleasure, I find myself bowling along country lanes with the roof down, the radio on and most importantly, the heater on full. (Richard hadn’t mentioned it would be a convertible so I am coatless.)

What does a 20-odd year-old Saab with 188k on the clock feel like? Even looking slightly tired, the car still has presence. The drivetrain feels tight, handling is crisp, the burbly sound is delightful and I am quite surprised by the lack of rattle or shake (until I hit a pothole). With wet, leafy roads, it is neither the time nor place to push it but the engine still feels lively and the dials and gauges indicate all is well under the large clam-shell bonnet. As one might expect, the seats are exceptionally comfortable and the odd rake of the steering wheel suits the car.  Hood-up, rear visibility is poor – but then it didn’t stay up for long.

Now classic motoring is something I’m used-to, so when the 900 pulled-up without the need for any use of the middle peddle, it was pretty obvious what was up. The nose test confirmed the back brakes are partially seized. So I’m now waiting for these to cool-off (and hopefully free-up) so I can return the car to Richard where one of his expert team will work their magic.

In the mean-time, it has messed with my head. I have always loved the Classic 900 convertible’s looks. Now I love the way they drive, too (avoiding potholes)…

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