So, here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Trollhattan. That’s not a bad place to be on a beautiful Spring day in Sweden, but I’d rather be in a picture like this…..
I’m sort of living in Sweden and sort of not. I don’t have an address here and I’ll be heading back to Australia next week after five weeks away from home in Hobart. But then I’ll be back again, and that’s the way things will go for much of this year. Sweden sometimes, the US or Britain or ….. wherever…… at other times. But mostly here. And that means that after getting an address sorted, I’m going to need some wheels.
I hate not having a car. I had my first car for months before I was ever allowed to drive it and I’ve been driving cars ever since. I admit that it’s not an overt act of environmental kindness on my part, but I just love the mechanical act of driving and the sensory high of being on the road and seeing the world at speed (you get to see more of it that way – that’s my excuse).
I can almost hear your question now – you work for a car company and you don’t have a company car? No. There is a scheme under which I could acquire one, but there are taxation implications and given my status here, well….. it’s complicated. So I’m going to take the opportunity to do what a lot of Saab lovers would love to do – scour Sweden for the [very affordable] classic Saab of my choosing.
And what an embarrassment of riches this country can offer a classic Saab nut like me (or you).
It didn’t last long before being sold, but just last week I saw a Saab 96 V4 for sale with just 37,000 kilometers on the clock. It was a mint greet type color and looked to be in fantastic condition (purists, forgive me for not knowing the name of the colour and for showing a different colour here). I don’t remember the exact price in Swedish, but it was somewhere in the order of a mere 50,000SEK, which is probably less than half of what the car would sell for in my home market, in Australia.
Still, even the fact that you can readily buy Saab V4 vehicles here is amazing enough to an outsider like me. As I sit here and write this, Swedish website Blocket has around 30 Saab V4’s of various vintages for sale, including a red 1968 Saab 96 at a price that would make a few Australian fans, men that I know personally as big proud Aussie males, cry like five year old boys.
In terms of newer models, the Saab 9-5 SportCombi can be had for a song and even upper echelon versions of the Saab 9000 like the Aero and CSE are readily available, albeit at prices that don’t differ too much from my home market.
There are a few specific models here in Sweden that still fetch what I’d call decent prices, if and when they come up for sale. The classic Saab 900 Convertible still fetches good money in good condition, as do most Saab convertibles. The Saab 99 EMS is very hard to find, as is a good classic 900 Aero. The old Saab 95 wagon is another rare bird, though a couple of examples are available, but in relatively poor condition. Expand the search criteria a little further and one can still find “tvåtakt” (two stroke) Saabs for sale, right back to a Saab 92B restorer from 1955 in working order (for just 45,000SEK).
One particular model of interest to some is the Saab 90. For those who aren’t familiar, the Saab 90 had the front of a Saab 99 and the rear end of a Saab 900 two-door. They were sold only in Scandinavian and British markets, which is why non-Scandis like me are often quite curious about them. I’ve seen plenty of them in my time here already and yes, there are plenty of them for sale, and in good condition, too. The Saab 90 was made right up until 1987, so there are still a lot of them on the road because they’re relatively simple and almost bulletproof.
Here’s a sample of what’s on offer right now here in Sweden (with no recommendations or assurances as to condition). Some are notable for their rarity, others for their price.
- 1968 Saab 96 V4, 130,000kms, 22,000 SEK
- Saab 96 Bullnose 2-stroke, rally prepared with a little work needed, 40,000 SEK
- Saab 9000 Aero, immaculate in red, built by PA Johansson, 420hp, 80,000 SEK
- Saab 9-5 SportCombi Aero, some work needed, 17,000 SEK
So what’s a Saabnut to do?
That 1968 Saab 96 is tempting me in all sorts of ways, in the same way that a stray cocker spaniel would tempt every dog lover on earth. I have to view this as a once-only chance to buy my classic Saab, however. This is a fairytale job for me and I hope it lasts forever, but few things do. I therefore have to view this opportunity for the rarity it represents – the chance to buy what for me, is a classic, at a knockdown price.
The holy grail for me would be a black Saab 99 Turbo, but they’re as rare as unicorns. There are a few 99Turbos here for sale at the moment but their condition and/or pedigree is questionable and I need something both authentic and reliable. It needn’t necessarily be black, but it has to be good.
A suitable compromise would a Saab 99 EMS but again, they’re pretty rare. There’s only one for sale right now and it’s located so far north I’d need the stars to align in an unprecedented way for it to be possible. Add to that the fact that it looks brown in the pictures and you might understand why I haven’t jumped at it yet. There are some brown cars that I really like, but I’d prefer a silver EMS, thanks.
Talking to a friend here in Trollhattan who knows about these things, he opined that the best turnkey solution for (pre-1985) classic, comfortable and reliable Saab motoring is probably the last generation of the Saab 99 non-turbos. The later models of the Saab 99GL were well appointed for the time, were fitted with 5-speed gearboxes and engines that love to cruise and refuse to quit.
And the best thing? There’s a ready supply of them for very little money – just what a classic Saabnut likes to hear.
The mission, then, will be to come back from my trip home and go car hunting with a vengeance. If there’s any place in the world to pick up a classic Saab, it has to be here in Sweden. It’s just a matter of waiting for the right one to come along.
And if you’re reading this and you have a 99 Turbo in your shed that you’d like to sell, feel free to drop me a note 🙂