The Saab 900 was a true modern classic and its popularity ensured that it enjoyed a lengthy, twenty year production span. Although it was manufactured from the period between 1978 and 1998, the vehicle is generally known as having two very distinct 'generations'.
The first generation 900 is commonly referred to as the 'Classic' and this was produced from 1978 to 1993 before the 'new generation' vehicle took over until the end of production five years later. Purists may well be referring to the classic when they talk fondly of the Saab 900 but both versions made their mark for this popular manufacturer.
The 900 was referred to as the nominated successor to the popular Saab 99 although this particular vehicle stayed in production until 1984. The 900 built on the 99's best components to become an improved, front wheel drive compact with an efficient 2.0 litre engine.
The new Saab was designed for everyday use but it soon gained popularity among motorists from all walks of life. It was reliable enough to be used by company car drivers who were grinding out high mileage levels but it was equally smart and efficient for those who just needed a car for local trips.
The wedge shape design was to become a real classic, however and is the main reason why the car became such a favourite over that twenty year period. The reliability and sheer longevity of the 900 also means that there is a healthy market for used models today and prices can start from just a few hundred pounds.
Over the years, several variants were introduced to complement the base 900 model which had that entry level, 2 litre engine under the bonnet. For those basic variants, the same engine was kept but it could be supplied with a single carburettor, twin carburettors or with fuel injection.
Various cosmetic changes were introduced over the years too, including integrated bumpers while an additional variant saw an upgrade to a 2.1 litre model. 4 and 5 speed gearboxes were also available along with an automatic option. Various one-off specials were also produced such as the Lux, the SE and the Carlsson.
By the mid 1980's, Saab sought to increase sales by introducing a convertible version of the 900 onto the world's roads. In the era of hot hatches, the retractable roof was also at the height of its popularity and the company were in an ideal position to take advantage.
Designs were submitted and while the prototype was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983, the very first two door convertible rolled off the production line two years later, in 1986.
As Saab underwent their own changes, the new generation 900 emerged in 1994 under their General Motors, Opel Vectra platform. Over 1000 technical and cosmetic improvements were made and the new 900 also saw a 2.3 litre and 2.5 model introduced.
Technically, the new generation 900 was a better car but most enthusiasts might tend to prefer the original model. The first Saab 900 is referred to as a classic for very good reasons but overall, the model as a whole is one that is regarded very fondly.
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