In addition to struggling to get the Saab on the road, I am also spending entirely too much time putting not just lipstick, but also eyeliner, and a wig on this pig. While I wait for the feeling to return in my arms (from re-attaching the exhaust) I figured I could detail some of the unnecessary crap I’ve been doing to the Saab.

Vacuum Leaks! Vacuum leaks as far as the eye can see!

Actually just the one. The boost gauge gave out at some point. Long story short I eventually traced it to the vacuum line that feeds the transducer. Turns out I may or may not have bolted the coolant reservoir onto the vacuum line and crushed it. I spliced in a new section, not really wanting to pull a new line through the firewall, but the old hose eventually split… so I ran a whole new run. Boost gauge is WORKING.

New gauges!

Actually, on that same topic I installed and ran wiring for two new transducers: oil and fuel pressure. Finding all the right fittings was a bit of a nightmare, but otherwise I am happy with the results.


Cruise Control

Yes. High priority item right there, I know. Almost up there with the radio. Anyway, on a whim I switched on the cruise just to see what’s what. It immediately started making a high pitched buzzing noise from under the dash. Long story short, I eventually discovered that when I removed the knee bolster, I discovered a disconnected relay and reconnected it. There is a TSB that bypasses that relay and having it connected produces, you guess it, a high pitched buzzing. Woo!

The Radio

When I first got the Saab in the summer of 2001 I had the stock radio replaced with a Sony XPLODE with a 10-disc changer. Oh the early 2000’s, they were certainly a time. I did have the option of getting one that could read mp3 CDs, but that seems like more of a pain. Keep in mind this was back when mp3 players weren’t all that common and a full 6 months before the original iPod came out. Yes, I feel old.


ANYWAY, sitting under a tree for 10+ years didn’t sit well with the old unit and the display was mostly non-functional. Also, although the changer still operated, I wasn’t going to hold my breath on its ability to still function. Plus, bluetooth is life. I sourced a new head unit (identical to the one I installed in my Yukon, because I thought it would be cool to have both cars have the same head unit) and began the install process.

Credit where credit is due, the guys at Circuit City in 2001 did a good job installing the Sony head unit. They actually managed to source a connector for the stock Clarion harness and wired that into the Sony pigtail. I chopped the Sony one off and began soldering on the new pigtail. The work was made easy by the Clarion reverse wiring harness having helpful wire labels, so I didn’t need to look up the pinout.


Yes. I actually thought that would work.

I immediately became suspicious something was amiss when I began connecting the two and noticed the speakers weren’t connecting to the part of the harness I was expecting them too. A quick check with a multimeter confirmed the markings on the reverse wiring harness were 100% wrong. This also solves the mystery of why, when I got the Saab back from Circuit City in 2001 the fuse for the tach and backup lights was blown. Most likely they made the exact same mistake I did, but didn’t catch it before they plugged in the radio and made everything go all crazy.


Anyway, long story short (too late) I managed to find the original install manual for the original radio, located the pinouts, and reconnected everything correctly, this time using terminal blocks so I could make changes easily if needed. Also I slaved off power, ground, “dimming”, and… uhh… something else to run down to the gauges I plan on installing later.

Test run was successful, and now I have a new radio!


Parcel Shelf

While I’ve never considered my car particularly rare, I have come to realize that a 4-door Saab is very unusual. Almost all of the ones you see on the forums are 3-door or convertible. Fun fact: The Saab 900 was available in 2-door, 3-door, 4-door, 5-door, and convertible. I’ve literally never seen a 2 or 5 door in real life. I can’t imagine they sold many as the 3-door was good looking and incredibly versatile.

ANYWAY, I say all that to say being a 4-door means that 4-door specific parts are very hard to come by. Case in point, when my parcel shelf turned up missing (I assume it is still sitting at the shop) sourcing a new one became a bit of an issue. The local junk yard did indeed have one, but it was heavily water damaged. Luckily they let me take it for free, and I thought it would be a fun project to get it up to snuff again.


Step one was to deal with the warping caused by the water damage and subsequent collapse. Taking the junk yard owner’s advice, I soaked the whole thing in water. Sure enough, with a little help from the 1x4s and some heavy weights it pretty much self-restored.


Next up was to reinforce the body and broken areas. I opted for a thin piece of poplar wood glued to the bottom for strength. For the main section. The mounting holes however, are in deeply silly places. My best plan was to use fiberglass to reinforce them and hope for the best….

Then, after a disastrous first attempt, I reinforced the finer areas with fiberglass.


Finally, I plan on hitting the whole thing with spray-paint. Yes. Spray-paint. How hard can it be?


Actually not too hard! Looks pretty legit, as long as you don’t touch it. I did manage to tear the shit out of my headliner when putting it back in, so that sucks.

Still more to be done

That said, there is still a lot that needs doing. Tires, putting the interior back together, fixing the driver’s seat, and (most importantly) getting some miles on it. That said, these little fixes are important and provide a nice break from the grind of mechanical work.