As previous mentioned, I took my Saab 900 on its first big boy drive this week and it went pretty OK. Also as mentioned, this is not my first drive in a Saab 900 as this particular one was my daily driver from 2001 to 2004.
Some background: Back when the Saab was my daily it was basically the only car I drove. That isn’t strictly true, of course, as I drove my dad’s 2000ish Camry and my mom’s 2001 GMC Yukon XL. The former was woefully slow and un-fun to drive, but had better AC than my Saab and sometimes you really do just want to drive an automatic. The GMC was a different beast entirely and doesn’t invite comparison. So back then I mostly drove the Saab. My Saab.
Unnecessary history lesson out of the way, I can get to the meat of this ramble: I now get why people like these cars. Before that drive, I was restoring it out of nostalgia. Now I am actually looking forward to driving it.
Now the hard part: Why?
Well… it is hard to describe. A friend of mine recently bought a 1983 900 Turbo on a whim. He is a hardcore Volvo guy, but the Saab was cheap and he figured he could flip it. He now drives it more than any of his other cars. Paraphrased, old Saabs drive like nothing else he has ever been in. From the old school turbo lag to the odd suspension they’re just… different.
And I totally agree now.
Steering feels effortless but very immediate. The car just feels connected to the road in a way I’m just not used to, even in my Alfa. Acceleration is quick but in no way urgent. It doesn’t feel fast, but I never had to put much effort to go the speed I wanted to be doing. The cockpit is weird and foreign but very well laid out. The dials are clear and uncluttered. Everything just works really well.
The only design feature I didn’t like was the window controls. Similar to my Disco, I never can remember which way to press to make them go. I remember that it is backwards of what I think, but half the time I remember it correctly, flip it in my head, and get it wrong.
Ok and the clutch has a huge travel and almost no feel.
But yeah…. Do yourself a favor and go drive an old Saab. Or better yet, buy one. They’re cheap, fun to drive, and (relatively) easy to work on.
Something something born from jets.