Are Saab 99’s (slowly) becoming collectable?

Are there any collectable Saabs yet? I think some of the traditional favourites are on their way to semi-collectable status. Recent content online seems to suggest that certain models are starting to pop up on people’s radar.

I wrestled with using the word ‘collectable’ in this headline because it implies dollar figures far in excess of what you’re going to see here. But the word ‘interesting’ didn’t seem to be enough. And Saab 99’s have always been interesting, as you know 🙂

Anyway….

Something happened as I trolled through my feeds this morning and it was enough to prompt this post. It’s a first-time occurrence, significant enough to be noted. One of the websites I subscribe to is Bring-a-Trailer (BaT), a site from the US that features what it thinks are interesting cars for sale. They invariably are, too. Though they’re not always interesting to me, I’m sure they’re all interesting to someone out there.

This morning’s review of BaT saw not one, not two but three Saab 99’s appear. Just one would have been unusual, but three??!! Saab 96s are a semi-regular sight on BaT, with Saab 95s, Sonetts and 900s less common. 99s don’t really show up much at all.

They were all quite worthy, too.

The first was featured on January 7 – a 1970 model Saab 99 with the early Triumph 1.75 engine. I even learned something from the post about the earliest 99s having a freewheel (I don’t know why this had escaped my attention in the past, but there you go)

1970-Saab-99-Engine-Lid-Front

The second car featured on January 9, and is one of my favourite model 99s, a combination bought to my attention by Christer Nilsson, one of Saab’s old PR guys in Sweden. It’s a two-door notchback 99 Turbo in Acacia Green. Mmmmmmm.

1979-Saab-99-Turbo-Acacia-Green

The third car was featured on January 10, making it three Saab 99s in four days. It’s a Saab 99 Turbo rally car built by members of Per Eklund’s team and driven occasionally by the great man himself.

1982-Saab-99-Turbo-Eklund

——

I’ve noticed the prices of good Saab 96s and 95s going up a little. I haven’t taken a look at Sonetts for a while, though. Even Saab 900s in desirable spec are starting to at least hold their value.

As BaT mention in one of their posts….

It hasn’t been long, but the more time passes the more we miss Saab.

Have you noticed values for any particular Saab models going up in your favourite marketplaces?

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19 Comments

  1. Man I would love to own that Ekland racer but EU55k is just slightly out of reach. By about EU50k.

  2. Incredibly interesting, the timing of your post. We held a tuning session just this past weekend at the home of the owner of one of THE most gorgeous, not to mention my favorite 99T — I wish I could post a picture of this car — simply “blow away”!!!

    Saturday when we broke for lunch, we were talking about how the value of certain SAAB models were going “way” up and the tuner we had down handling the tunes, asked the question: “how do we think converting a c900 to T5 would effect the value of the car?” The other hot lunchtime topic resulted from our host and 99 owner, giving us a very insightful and detailed walk through of his build process of his unbelievable Orange 99 named Clementine.

    We were blown away when he told us that in addition to having a much more solid and rigid frame, the 99 was actually 500 pounds lighter than the c900 — I’m still in shock over this revelation. I told him I was in the process of trying to decide which one of my SAABs I would T5 next. However, now I’m considering finding a 99, his response was “good luck finding a good candidate, they have become really scarce”.

    I must admit, being a true fan of the c900 for almost 30 years now, the 99 is fast becoming very intriguing to me.

    Another great post!

  3. Collectible 99’s?

    The list would be:
    ’69 99 with freewheel. I’m probably wrong but think ’69 was the only year with freewheel. a ’69 with a V-4 would be interesting to hove.
    ’74 EMS in orange, that would be Special, Manual & Electronic
    ’78 99 Turbo! in Cardinal Red…….or…..Black…..or……Silver, but Cardinal Red really gets my blood flowing!
    ’77 99GLE, yes, a five door (actually the first year of the 5 door here in the US)
    ’78 99GL in Jade Green. Body speced as a Turbo! (sunroof, power mirrors and the like) but no Turbo! Who says you need a Turbo! for fun. My copy is gone for a few years but was a nice fun car for the road!
    And the first Saab I bought and still have in the garage, ’79 99GL VIN: 99792001636.

    I’ve owned 4 99’s in 2 & 3 door bodies and prefer a 99 over a c900 (ten of those). Granted, the c900 is an order of magnitude better in creature comforts, but the 99 seems to be more driver oriented. Lack of Turbo! power makes one work *with* the car to get over the road. Finesse over mashing the go pedal. A 99 seems to be more tossible than a c900, although the “numbers” say otherwise.

    The only drawback with a 99 is the four speed gearbox and the “B” engine water pump. Trannys can be swapped in from a c900 for a five speed along with selected regearing for flexibilty. The water pump can be dealt with by observation and replacement with good parts or replacement with an electric water pump for better reliabiltty.

    The c900 is essentially a restyled 99 from the “A” pillar forward providing more space for those aforementioned creature comforts and “safety” improvements (front crumple zones). The 99 is structurally stronger than the c900. The “A” pillar extends into the front wheel well to act as a roll cage.

    1. Oh no, I have lost touch with this site since I went to South America some years ago now the UK….yet I do miss my ‘old banger’ 99’s – esp. my EMS….it let me ‘compete’ with the rich kids on campus whose Daddy’s had bought them BMW’s. Yet a 1976 99EMS – I did everything in it…say no more!

  4. Swade, for years you were going on and on (and on) over how the 99 Turbo was such a great car. I honestly never took your view on the 99 seriously until the opportunity presented itself to buy a 99 Turbo at a very reasonable price which was too good to pass up. And once I purchased it, man was I bowled over.

    The 99’s positive attributes are less apparent until you spend some time with it. Then once you spend time with a 99, the more you do, the more they grow on you. They are more raw than the 900. And also somehow the connection between driver and car is greater.

    I guess part of the problem is that the 99 has the reputation of being like the 900, but worse. What we know from the Saab lore is that Saab engineers took the 99, and improved upon it by making it more refined. It would then follow that why would one want a 99 when you could buy a (much more plentiful and youthful) 900 which was a similar car but better in evrery way and more refined. But as one of your regular posters on this blog once commented (cannot remember his name, but an Australian gentleman), as the Saab engineers made it’s cars more refined, some of the emotion was lost. I see this now, and cannot agree more.

    I have now also purchased my dream car, a 1985 900 T16S (SPG/Aero – silver with red leather interior like yours was), and it will be interesting to see which one I drive more this summer once I finish with the light restoration of the 900 and both cars are available for driving.

    I have fantastic memories of driving the 99 Turbo over the last summer. I have kept mine completely stock (down to the tire size), and have been won over by the joys of classic motoring. Driving down a twisty road with dips and rises in the early morning hours was one of my favorite past times. Feeling the way the car was shifting it’s weight on those high side walled tires going through the corners, anticipating the turbo while waiting for the turbo lag to pass, then that mad rush accompanied by that jet engine on takeoff sound of the turbo’d B engine is an incredible experience. I would go out with my young daughter who would squeel with delight at the sounds and rush of speed. It has often been said before that the main joy of a classic car is that the fun is to be had at a much lower speed, and I cannot agree more.

    I have also put the full 70s bells and whistles on my 99 Turbo, including the disco Saab Turbo side stripes. These really add to the visual impact of the car in my view. When I drive the car through the city, I often seen other drivers dangerously trying to photograph my car with their phones while driving, and once parked, come back to the car to find people grouped around it. The visual impact of the 99 Turbo really seems to have matured well and come into its own in the last several years. It is no longer just an old car, but now a proper classic (yes, you were a pioneer Swade).

    I have a fully rebuilt late 9000 Aero with all the Maptun and Abbott Racing bells and whistles, but I already know that I would sell that Aero ten times over before I would ever consider selling the 99 Turbo. What a car!

    By the way, the only real issue I have had with the 99 Turbo in the last year of ownership is with the pesky fuel injection. The modern fules with their high percentage of ethanol break apart the 70s rubbers in the fuel system, which clogs the lines and messes up the electronic fuel injection. I have two used fuel injection heads which I will install in the 99 Turbo and see which one is the best (unfortunately both have a faair amount of corrossion in them so am not too hopeful, but will try this out before spending EUR 1500 on a rebuild from Bosch). If I could get this issue resolved, the car would be perfect (it still sometimes sputters at 3500 RPM just as the turbo starts to spool up and the fun begins, ruining the whole point of having the turbo).

    I found what Allan wrote about converting 900s to T5 interesting. This is a real trend in Saab circles, and I am not convinced. My whole joy in classic motoring is to enjoy the classic cars as they were – with thier positives and their negatives. In my view, the negatives are as interesting and as big a part of the ownership experience as the postives. My 9000 Aero journey has also convinced me of this. My family had three 9000 turbos from 1987 to 2000 (including a 1995 Aero), and my 9000 Aero journey began as a result of my quest of finding that feeling I had as a boy riding in my dad’s 9000 turbos (and later learning to drive in them). Each of the changes I have made to my 9000 Aero have made it a better car, but have destroyed part of the balance instilled by Saab engineers in designing the car as well as the feeling I was looking for. With the Abbott Racing Suspension, uprated brakes, turbo back 3 inch stainless steel performance exhaust and larger custom intercooler the car has become an insanely fast and breaks on as dime, but the refined classic 9000 feeling has been lost, and I am sorry about that. The one thing which is for sure is that my 900 T16S (SPG/Aero) will not be subject to these “upgrades”, and I certainly will not be T5ing it. But this is a personal decision and I would not judge anyone else who did do it. That said, to answer Allan’s question as to whether T5ing a 900 decreases the value of a 900, I would certainly not pay more (and likely less) for a 900 which has been T5’d, but that is my personal view. Lastly, of all the differnt types of Saab engines I have lived with over the years (eight and counting!), I remember that of the 9000 T16S from 1987 being the most lively and piquant. This was the 175HP engine with very similar tune as that in the 1985 900 T16S (Aero/SPG). We had this car at the same time as the Aero, and although the Aero was more quick and fun, the 9000 T16S was more raw an piquant (I guess you could say more characterful). In the mid to late 90s, I enjoyed driving both cars equally.

    @Jon – the freewheeler was installed in the 99 past 1969. My friend has an immaculate 1971 (one of the first injection models), and it still has the freewheeling from the factory. Apparently, Saab installed these as it felt that it’s diehard fanbase would demand it (as we all know, the freewheeler was a must on the two strokes as coasting the engine in high revs would lead to engine failure due to oil starvation). Intersting that the first 99s (with their Italian lines and chrome) are very diffierent than the later models, with more robust materials and interesting touches (I love the flap which goves over the key hole on the door handles so they do not freeze in the winter, as well as the chrome coverings on the inner sills).

    Sorry for the long reply Swade. I enjoyed the post Swade very much, and I guess I had a lot to say. In any event, I will always be grateful to you for sewing the seed which made me interested in purchasing my 99 Turbo. You certainly were ahead of your time in your 99 Turbo appreciation!

    Best,

    Ed K.

      1. Saab 99 looks fantastic with two doors, but the longer aft section that belongs to the 3- and 5-door cars doesn’t really fitt the short nose of the 99. It is better suited to the longer 900 nose.
        All my humble opinions of course.
        I almost bought a beautiful white two-door 99T once and that still haunts me.

        1. I agree on the nose balance thing, the 99 looks particularly good in notchback form. I guess what people like can be dependent on when they got into the cars also, and for me it was with the c900, so my bias is there – those are my favourites… but a well sorted 99 is fantastic. Love that green notch!

          I think that “collectable” has a lot to do with availability. So if you live in Europe where these cars were plentiful originally and the climate is not too harsh, or Australia, where regardless of the initial quantity, the climate is not too harsh on cars… well, there will be enough around to keep prices reasonable. Around here in the North American Saltbelt, they are becoming rarer and rarer as they rust away. You can fix a tranny or motor, but the cost to repair rust properly can be nearly insurmountable (as, Swade, you may be finding with the Lancia). Saabs rust slower than most other cars, but they still rust, and there are very few cars older than 15-20 years on our roads. As a result, asking prices are going up, and $300 cars of 5 years ago are now $2000 cars, and $800 cars are $4000 cars… Pristine examples have been asking well over 5 figures, whereas that was not always the case (and as it now is for eg a 9-5, which you can find a great example for $3k). Basically, they have turned a corner here, and 5-10 years down the road, they may actually start to be worth a fair bit. Last 99 I saw for sale locally was about 4 years ago, and it was nice, but asking about $3-4k iirc.

  5. Well my 9k has been insured as a classic for the last 2 years, so it seems to be going the right way (Insurance Co’ wise at least).

  6. The 99 surely should be considered collectible! I bought a new 1969 Saab 99 2-door (first in my area), a new 1973 99 4-door with the new Scania-developed engine (electronic injection), and a used 1975 99 Wagonback (mechanical injection) and loved them all, especially the driving experience (but not so much for buzzing and squeaking sounds). I test drove a new 900 (non-turbo) and thought “What a boring car!”. I never again drove a 900.
    It was a mistake to bring the freewheeling forward because it was so unreliable with the bigger engine. Mine gave out shortly after 12,000 miles so I just locked it out.
    If I should win a lotery some day, I’ll make my barn a mini Saab museum with all of the pre-GM Saab models. 🙂

  7. When I sailed out of Malmö in July 1968 on the return voyage to Hull England I filmed , with my 8 mm movie camera a white 99 going to up to Scotland for testing. This is the first footage of the first Saab 99 to leave Sweden. I spoke to the crew about it. I will have to dig up the footage that was transferd to VHS and I need to re-transfer it to DVD/You Tube. That car was also white.

    My mechanic, Larry Gesch in Neosho, Wisconsin owns one of the rare, Burgundy 99 2-door Turbo prototypes with the original
    Pirelii CN-36’s!

  8. Collectible? I think that all of us ‘collect’ Saabs, so my answer is YES! 😉

    Seriously, I think that any Sonett should be considered a collectible car. I’d love to see a breakdown of how many (few) were produced and how many (few) are left on the road. The numbers have to be tiny.

  9. There is a wonderful website called howmanyleft.co.uk that you can search for how many vehicles of a particular uk model are fully registered , or ‘sorn’ ( registered as not roadworthy, or stored)

    In the uk there are about 450 saab 99’s of all variants left, and this number has been pretty consistent since around 2010. So, yes, I’d say they have now reached collector , or at least enthusiast status now. Clearly, none or very few have been scrapped in the last few years.

  10. I had a look at a 99 during the summer but it was too far gone…for me at least. Not sure about others, but I’ve noticed Saab second-hand prices have stabilized recently – I think it’s reassuring. I do like that Acacia Green..!

  11. TU-3 Whale-tails Aeros are climbing steadily in VIC, it seems, if you can find one listed. Particularly those in excellent condition. Met an owner in the local carpark who has no intentions of moving his on. Still loves it and won’t drive anything else.

  12. I still remember my 1976 99 EMS very fondly (I owned 2 of them actually 1988-90 and 1991 to 1995). I loved the way the seat belts confused everyone and the fact that they usually had to ask me where the door handle was when they wanted to get out. However the faster ratio steering coupled with the smaller diameter sports steering wheel and no air con, made it a chore parking in Aussie summers. I still have to say that that I liked the size of the 99 two door. All my cars since (all Saabs) have been larger and I often miss a smaller car that’s a bit more chuckable that the larger cars that followed.

  13. I had a 99 Turbo for many years and regret selling it when I emigrated from the UK. It was the 2 door 99 in red. It was water injected, had lowered progressive rate 900 T16S springs and had a big bore exhaust. It never ceased to overtake in half the distance I thought it would take. I also had a 900 Carlsson and have since had a 9000 Aero for 17 years, along with another couple of 9000s in the family fleet.
    The 99 was raw, especially the torque steer, but massive fun. The water injection almost doubled the boost (0.7 > 1.2 bar) and was like a second turbo. I miss it.

  14. Another thought on this… as a kid growing up in Australia my ‘credit card’ purchased 99EMS was a hit at uni. In time the vanity has gone and I’d just love to have it back. On my 21st a mate bought me a book on Saab and their history. Sure the 99 needed a redisgn to meet US crash legislation yet the 900 was evolution not revolution. I guess you either ‘get it’ or you don’t. My current 9-3 is not like the NG900, it reminds me more of a ‘modern’ Classic 900. Yet a 9-5 isn’t much different to a 9000 to me. Neither issue bothers me – just enjoy your Saab, they are all good!
    Steve do get in touch, my 9-3 is migrating to Australia! I need advice esp as once in Oz I’m not letting her go and will need a good Indie.
    Last night I drove a 2002 model BMW320, on advice of a friend of my wife who wanted a ‘male to see the car.’ At £950 asking it was great but after the test run my 9-3 was far more modern, had the turbo boost, yes fwd on wet icy roads and far more gizmos. I suppose the Beemer handled better if pushed but surely only idiots ‘push’ their own cars…my garage in Oz will contain my current UK 9-3, I’ll hunt (indeed already am) for a Classic 900 and a ‘boring’ daily driver is a Honda. I’ve got one in the UK – faultless but not a patch on the 9-3.
    Finally I thought long and hard on a power upgrade yet with the proliferation of cameras and heavy penalties for the motorist why bother? Steve you once wrote about the loss of Saab’s button dashboard – no idea your thoughts now but I love the buttons, it does make me think of my brief experience with commercial aircraft – no ‘dial switches’ on them!
    This baby I want to keep, and it is the most gorgeous 4dr vs the Alfa 156 from modern times.
    Anyhow home in the work Focus – a fine car in reality but no Saab.
    Tomorrow our friend is likely to take possession of the 320…. Yawn…BMW, Audi or a rusty Merc (I should know I had a C200 until the rust bubbles started to embarrass me at the lights next to an N-reg Citroen Saxo!).