Swadeology: Updating the car dilemma

I’ve written few times here about my own personal automotive situation. It’s an interesting conundrum for the devoted Saab fan living in Sweden – there are so many Saabs here that are hard to get elsewhere, and usually at pretty good prices, too. Which model to choose?

Adding to the dilemma is the fact that I absolutely hate not having a car. I bought my first ever car several months before my 18th birthday, the date when I was first eligible to sit my licence test. That little blue Holden Gemini (there, I admitted it) tortured me with daily invitations to see new, exotic places as it sat there in my driveway.

Surprisingly, I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to catching the bus to work in the morning, though missing the bus by a minute (which happened today) exposes the frustrations of public transportation. Not having a car also means that you can’t get to the bigger supermarkets outside of the city, you can’t get down to Ikea to pick up the one or two things that you need for your flat, and you can’t easily get around to visit friends in the area (which is even more important when you’re new in town).

My budget is 30,000 SEK, around A$5K and whilst there’s a fair bit on offer – I can theoretically pick up anything from a 9-5 SportCombi down depending on age – there’s only a few cars that are rare enough to pop up on my radar, which I think I’ve covered adequately in previous posts.

The one criterion of particular importance for me is to get something that’s a bit more difficult to get elsewhere, especially back home in Australia. As much as I love our Saab 9000 back at home, I’m not going to pick one of those up as my main personal car here (maybe I’ll reconsider that in winter). It’s got to be something that I’d find difficult, if not impossible, to access back at home. It doesn’t have to be a car that was never sold back home – I’m not looking for a 600, for example, as cool as it might be – but it should be an edition that was particular to Sweden, or one that is hard to get unless you’re here.

My first try was with a 1971 Saab 99. The silver-bumper models with the Triumph engines are very rare back at home. I spotted one for sale a few weeks ago and even structured some international travel around having the ability to go and inspect it. Sadly, it didn’t work out. There were some concerns about a leaking gasket and more importantly, concerns about the ability to fix it without stripping the head bolts.

It looked just like this one…..

I was devastated. I really loved that car and it looked even better in person that what it did in the photos – inside and out. It even had the seal of approval from Mrs Swade, who considered it “a cutie” and appreciated the fact that it would be more difficult for me to drive too fast in such a vehicle.

Last week I had a close encounter with one of my other most-wanted dream Saabs – an Acacia Green Saab 99 Turbo. It would have been a miracle had a purchase come about in this instance, but it was worth a try.

The car wasn’t actually up for sale. I just noticed it one day on the way to work and left a note on the windscreen the next day. To my surprise, the owner contacted me and we met the next day to take a look over the car and check out just how interested we both were in a deal. I was very interested, but it seems 99Turbos really are attracting a premium here in Sweden now and I didn’t have enough funds in the budget.

This is not the car, but it looks the same…

That was particularly disappointing for me as a 99 Turbo really was a priority on my list. I could spend more time and accumulate some more money, but there are other unique options for less and getting the 99T suddenly seems like a matter that would confer responsibilities that I’m not sure I could meet in terms of preservation, housing, etc.

A new option has popped up. I’ll be looking at it this Sunday, all going well. It’s turbocharged, it looks pretty darn good and best of all, the owner seems like an absolute Saab nut. He’s only selling it because he’s just bought a Saab 900 Aero with only 30,000km on the clock and needs to make room for it. It’s a limited edition and it’s well kitted out, even if the performance is a little less than what I usually go for.

Will I get it?

That, of course, depends on the condition of the car when I see it on the weekend. It seems to tick almost all of the boxes, though. From the description and photos that I’ve seen, it seems to be a very likely candidate. All I can do is cross my fingers, inspect the car and see what it’s like. Hopefully I’ll be in a position to share some photos with you on Sunday evening!

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  1. Best of luck Swade! Hopefully you can find precisely what you are looking for. I bought my Saab on a whim, having done no research. That car now sits immobile in my driveway, broken with a $5,000 cost of repair bill. I regret that purchase everyday and wish I had taken the time to find my “one” true match.

  2. Love the green 99T pictured. What other mainstream car’s design looks that good after so many years? Hope you find the right car soon.

  3. I love the looks of the early 99, the 69-71, but a wise choice to pass on it. I had a 69, and helped a friend replace a blown head gasket. It was almost impossible to get the head bolts out even when relatively new. Plus, weak trannies, non-pivoted front springs, yada, yada… But somehow, I still loved that car.

  4. The 1982 900 Turbo is the car that did the trick for me… it was love at first sight …

  5. About 20+ years ago when i was in my later teens a friend of mine had a 99 turbo just like the one you mention, i even think it was green if i remember right. I was about a year to young to drive it but sitting in the passenger seat was still insane. When hitting the pedal first nothing happens, then nothing happens again, then you get kicked by a horse. Haven’t seen one in traffic since i don’t know when. Not even at the yearly town veteran cruise where i live (in the middle of sweden). I guess they was driven hard and issues like short life span of the turbo made them to high-maintenance for most. Those who owns one that works as it should are lucky bastards! I guess maybe by obvious reasons there are more of them alive In Trollhättan and roundabout?

  6. But when it comes to ascetic pure beauty that 1971 Saab 99 is in a league of its own. But when buying a car 30 -40 years old it should come with its own garage and lots of spare time. Are you sure Swade you should not look for something less exotic like a –99 9-3?:) I mean even if you find a -71 99 with non leaking gasket it probably will start leak when you driven the car for a month. But i can understand that you want something that was built pre GM and not partly Italian. Good luck, looking forward to see what you end up with.


  7. Good luck, Swade. I am sure you will find an appropriate car…
    Eagerly waitng to see it!

  8. I’m in a similar situation. Only I moved to Norway not Sweden, but have the same kind of a dilemma. Although the prices are much bigger here…

  9. I bet it’s a 1989 Saab 900 T8 Special… 😉

    If not Swade, I’ve sent you a mail through the contact page…

  10. By this time, you must’ve found the most appropriate car for you Swade. The features you’ve discussed in this article could also help anyone who would like to buy a new car. You really know what to check in a specific car. Some people may also be wondering how the car dillema turned out. Hmm. Was it succesful?

    Nicole Vickers