Swede Week: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero

So the GM-takeover of SAAB is to be completely lamented? Not so fast. A few really cool vehicles came about as a result of SAAB’s combined efforts with other automakers; the 9000 is probably the best example, but the Viggen, the ‘SAABaru’ 9-2X, and 9-5 Aero are also popular alternatives to the normal German performance rides out there. Today, though, I want to take a look at what many consider the low point of SAAB’s GM connection and try to unearth a diamond in the rough – because there was one.

The ‘Trollblazer’ was just that; a SAABafied version of GM’s GMT360 Trailblazer. It was really just a light reskin of the vehicle and was even assembled in Ohio. That doesn’t sound too exciting, as indeed the Trailblazer was not the shining star of GM’s catalog nor its best example of vehicle dynamics. But late in the run, GM upped the game with the ‘SS’ version of the ‘Blazer, which added a 400 horsepower Corvette-sourced LS2, giant wheels, and suspension and body tweeks that somehow made the mundane grocery-getter instantly cool. And for good measure, just over 600 were changed into SAAB 9-7X ‘Aero’ models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 SAAB 9-7X Aero on eBay

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Swede Week: 1971 SAAB Sonnet III

Continuing on the Swede Week theme, here’s an instantly recognizable treat that is unfortunately seldom seen today. Like Volvo’s P1800, SAAB’s Sonnet lineup attempted to add some sport to the company’s brochures with exotic Italian looks and an odd combination of DNA. Although the above Sonnet’s lines are familiar to most Euro-centric automotive enthusiasts, this was actually the third version of the car, which had emerged from a ultra-low-production roadster into a similar and striking Coupe design in the late 1960s. 1970s saw a full exterior redesign but it remained very much a unique look, with a long, low hood punctuated by a Kammback tail. Power had developed in the second series cars from the original two-stroke inline-three to a Ford-developed V4 borrowed from the European-market Taunus. The result was 65 horsepower, which doesn’t sound like a lot – and wasn’t. 0-60 was an uninspired 13-second affair, but hey – just look at it! Who cares how fast you were going, most would mistake this for some oddball Maserati or Alfa Romeo were it not for the badges.

These cars are quite rare – far less were produced than the E30 M3, for example – and as a result hold reasonably strong value today. This ’71 sure looks nice!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1971 SAAB Sonnet III on eBay

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Swede Week: 1992 SAAB 900S Hatchback

If the Volvo V70 from yesterday moved the company into a new performance level and group of buyers with a modern performance platform, this SAAB 900 represents the last throes of Swedish independence. The 900 was introduced in 1978 and production ran all the way until 1994 and it was replaced by the Vetra-based 900NG, but the reality is that it was a development of the earlier 99 that was introduced in 1968. Yet somehow the 900 still looked as futuristic and different in 1992 as it did in 1982, or even 1972 for that matter. And though the chassis was rather dated by the Grunge-era, you wouldn’t know it stepping into one. These were solidly-built, well-engineered cars that dared to think differently, yet worked well. SAAB did an excellent job incorporating (and going above and beyond) safety regulations of the day, and the 900s integrated these features arguably much better than most despite their rather small production numbers. And, they were steadily upgraded over their production to breathe new life into the aging DNA.

Such is the case here, with this later 900S Hatchback. The ‘S’ introduced the 16V head on the backwards-mounted B201 2.0-liter inline-four to create the B202. Power jumped from a modest 116 horsepower to a slightly-less modest 128 horsepower. But in 1991, SAAB upped the ante again with a new 2.1-liter version called the B212. With another 10 horsepower, performance was at least on par with most of its contemporaries, and the 900’s low center of gravity belied its looks; these were good handling cars and offered great all-weather performance despite their front-drive only platform.

Of course, it was inside where the 900 really shined, offering copious interior space with a massive amount of storage available in the rear. I had a friend with one of these at the same time that I owned a Mk.II Golf, and the fit, finish, ride quality, and cabin space was so far above that of the Volkswagen, it felt as though I was in a luxury car. Today, clean examples of the 900 are harder to find, but this one looks nice:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 SAAB 900S Hatchback on eBay

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1991 Saab 900 SPG

Every time we feature a Saab or Volvo on GCFSB, the chorus of “that’s not a German car” makes itself heard. We know. We’re aware. I’m always on the hunt to find the unexpected and interesting feature and this 1991 Saab 900 SPG fits the bill. These Swedish machines have a lot traits in common with their German counterparts, such as luxury, durability and safety. This would be the final year for the SPG in the US market, finishing with just over 7,600 examples sold since its introduction in 1985. These cars were sold at a time when the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 were in showrooms, along with a variety of other machines which were using turbocharging similar to this Saab (see the Buick GNX, Merkur XR4Ti and Ford Mustang SVO). The Saab was a car for those who did things a bit differently. A thinker’s sports car, if you will. If you’ve been wanting to relive a bit of nostalgia from this defunct brand, here’s your chance.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Saab 900 SPG on eBay

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1997 Saab 9000 Aero

If you look at my vehicle history prior to my current vehicle, everything has been German. However, after years of flying the flag for the Fatherland, I’ve found myself wanting just a bit more. Something different. For years I took Saab for granted but when they finally closed up shop a few years ago, I shed a tear. Saabs were both obscure and sensible, with sometimes a heavy helping of performance. Such is the case with this 1997 9000 Aero for sale in New Jersey. While I was a bit saddened to scroll through the ad and find out it was equipped with an automatic, it’s a rare instance that you see one of these Q-ships in such great nick. This car represents the final year for the Aero, a model that featured a color-keyed body kit and spoiler, heavily bolstered Recaro seating, sport suspension and special 16 inch alloys. This automatic equipped example keeps the standard turbocharger for an output of 200 bhp, while manual equipped Aeros had a larger turbo capable of producing 225 bhp.

Click for details: 1997 Saab 9000 Aero on eBay

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1988 Saab 900 SPG

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Every now and then, I’ll see a Saab pass me by in my daily travels and it brings a smile to my face. Sure, towards the end of their run here in the US, it was a sad story, but we may never see such a unique car manufacturer ever again. Saab reached its zenith back in the 1980s, continuing on with a tradition of turbocharging they began a decade earlier well before other car manufacturers caught on to this technology. Perhaps one of the most beloved turbocharged Saabs was the 900 SPG. This model included a stiffer suspension and three spoke alloy wheels, as well as leather interior, air condition and premium sound system as standard. The SPG was further differentiated from lesser 900s with its unique lower body kit. There is a rabid group of followers for this car, so finding a good one for sale can be a challenge. This example for sale in Washington state is a one-owner example, which is sure to set off a firestorm of interest.

Click for details: 1988 Saab 900 SPG on eBay

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1985 Saab 900 Turbo

“Hey, Saab is Swedish, not German.”

Yes, yes, we’ve heard this line many times before, but we here at GCFSB appreciate the machinery from our Nordic neighbors, especially when it comes to a vintage icon like the Saab 900 Turbo. The 900 Turbo was the car that put Saab square in the crosshairs of many a yuppie in the 1980s. For those who thought a Mercedes-Benz or BMW was just a bit too mainstream, the 900 Turbo was unique enough to satisfy the anorak of car enthusiasts. It was also one of the first mainstream production cars to feature a turbocharged engine, years before other manufacturers discovered this technology as a way to maximize economy without sacrificing performance.

This 900 Turbo for sale in Kentucky is a low mileage example that sat for a number of years before being rescued by Saab enthusiast.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Saab 900 Turbo on eBay

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1991 Saab 900 Convertible

By the the 1990s rolled around, the Saab 900 was getting a bit long in the tooth. With a recent investment from General Motors, a replacement for Saab’s venerable model was on the way, but the old 900 still had a bit of fight left in it. The 900 Convertible debuted in 1986 and quickly became a favorite of yuppies and otherwise well-heeled individuals, especially in coastal regions of the US. Amongst the Convertibles, one of the most sought after examples is the one like we see here for sale in Pennsylvania: the ones painted in Monte Carlo Yellow. Just over 300 examples of the 900 Convertible in this color made their way to the US, with under 900 produced in total. Want something unique to go topless in this summer? Look no further…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Saab 900 Convertible on eBay

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1983 Saab 99GL

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The last Saabs produced before the company’s financial meltdown were decidedly upscale vehicles, a sort of Swedish yin to Volvo’s yang, if you will. Earlier Saabs, though, were a rather curious lot. These cars mixed together practicality, performance and Nordic sensibility in one package, garnished with a little bit of upmarket flair. Saab was also one of the first manufacturers to employ turbocharging with the 99 Turbo, which was one cracker of a compact car. After this model made its debut, the words “Saab” and “Turbo” would be almost synonymous to the end.

While it’s not turbocharged, this late production 99GL for sale in the UK is like few we’ve seen recently. Sitting on 15″ soccer ball alloys with under 30,000 miles on the odometer, this one really scratches our itch for vintage Swedish metal.

Click for details: 1983 Saab 99GL for sale at 4Star Classics

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2002 Saab 9-5 Linear SportCombi

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Each time we feature a Saab here on GCFSB, it’s always a mixed bag of comments. You have the diehard fans who won’t drive anything but. Then there are folks who will rattle off a number of alternative options, complaining about torque steer and the inconvenient fact that you are driving around in an orphan marque. Then you have the usual “this isn’t German” quip. Whatever the case may be, we like the products our Nordic neighbors have to offer.

Saab was about to release a new and very pretty 9-5 SportCombi before the company had the rug pulled out from it in 2011. A handful of pre-production models were built which landed in the hands of a few private owners. However, we’ll always have the first generation 9-5 SportCombi. This one for sale in Florida might not be the snazziest of 9-5s in white over tan leather with the automatic, but rarely do you see them this nice and so lightly used.

Click for details: 2002 Saab 9-5 Linear SportCombi on eBay

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