Customers wanted something new and Saab wanted to make bigger and better cars. At the same time American collision safety requirements were high on the agenda. All this led to the Saab 900 based on the Saab 99 being introduced in 1978 as the new 1979 model. The Saab 900 had very strong links to its predecessors. The basic features from 1946 were still there, front wheel drive, large wheels, active and passive safety systems. The Saab 900 brought together all the unique innovations Saab had developed over the years. It was equipped with self-repairing bumpers, electrically heated seats, headlight wiper washers and the Turbo charged engine with Automatic Performance Control APC but to name a few. The Saab 900 has always been a unique car in many respects gaining its own distinct identity through design. The Saab 900 also saw yet another Saab invention, an air filter which removes pollen, dust and even some bacteria from the air. This was especially appreciated by allergy sufferers. The "Classic" Saab 900 was produced for almost 15 years. But there were big differences between the first and the final models. Few cars have been developed as much along the way as the Saab 900.
The Saab 900 was introduced in May 1978 to complement the Saab 95/96 and Saab 99. It was based on the Saab 99 hatchback, but the entire front section was new and the wheelbase was longer than the Saab 99. The Saab 900 met American collision requirements without a problem. Saab introduced its unique air filter which traps all forms of pollen, dust and even some bacteria. The 1979 Saab 900 was introduced in 3 and 5 door versions. It was available with the following Saab engines; 100hp single carburettor GL, 108hp twin carburettor GLS, 118hp injection EMS/GLE, and a 145hp Turbo model. Top
1980 saw the introduction of a 5 speed gearbox for the EMS and Turbo models. The front seats and backrests were given a new shape and made adjustable. The rear lights were enlarged considerably. A special model, the CD was introduced. It was based on the 900 GLE/Turbo but extended in length by 20 cms. At the Geneva car show in 1980 the Saab 900 was presented for the first time in a four door saloon version with a conventional boot. Top
The Saab 900 was now available as a saloon. Lots of small improvements were made during 1981. A front spoiler made of rubber for the Turbo, new wing mirrors adjustable from inside the car, a new steering wheel and electric windows on the Turbo. The interior was made more spacious by making the floor tunnel flatter and remodelling the back seat. The spare wheel was moved to provide more luggage space. A bigger fuel tank and a new front axle. Saab's H-engine was another new component.The term "H" indicated an increase in engine compression without the loss of power. The intake channels in the engine were made narrower so that maximum power output was not affected and fuel consumption improved. Top
Saab introduced Saab's unique Automatic Performance Control APC. The APC system adjusts the engine to variations in the fuel quality. Central locking became standard on several models, as well as tyres with low-rolling resistance and the drivers side door mirror got wide-angle glass. Top
Asbestos free long-life brake pads were introduced. The choice of equipment was widened with central locking and electric windows fitted as standard on more models. Leather upholstery became available for the Turbo models. Top
Many new features were introduced in 1984. A breakless ignition system, a new grille, a newly designed sports steering wheel, lower front seats, a black rear number plate panel, delayed shutoff interior lights and cruise control. In the spring of 1983 Saab presented its new 160hp 2-litre engine with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, dome-shaped combustion chambers and centrally-located spark plugs. The new engine was of course equipped with Saab APC and was produced for the Saab 900 Aero launched in the spring of 1984. Top
At the same time as the Saab 9000 was introduced, the Saab 900 model range was reduced. It now consisted of the 900 carburettor engine, 900i, 900 Turbocarburetor engine and 900 Turbo 16v. All were available in 3,4, or 5 door models. The 900i was also available as a 2 door. The 900i got a quieter exhaust system. All 900 models had bigger brake pads up front, a more powerful starter and an extra protective strip along the sides of the body. This was the year Saab introduced its "reversed" electro-dip technique which offered higher resistance to body surface corrosion. Top
The Saab 900 and 900i were equipped with a new exhaust manifold which improved torque as well as preheating the air intake. A new two-door Turbo model was introduced. The 8-valve Turbo engine now had an intercooler increasing the power to 155hp. The first Saab 900 T16 Convertibles were assembled. The first 400 were shipped to the USA. Top
All Saab 900's except the basic 900 model, were given a new front end which improved the aerodynamics by 5%, new bumpers front and rear which were slimmer and 33% lighter but offered more protection than their predecessors. Adjustable heating of the drivers seat was introduced for the Saab 900 Turbo and the 900 T8 had oil-filled engine mounts like the ones in the 900 T16. Servo assisted steering became standard on the Saab 900i as did a new centre console inside. Top
The Saab 900 Turbo gets a water-cooled turbo unit to significantly increase its lifespan. Braking capacity was boosted by installing brakes from the Saab 9000. Front ventilated discs were introduced. The handbrake now locked the rear wheels. The Saab 900 Convertible was being assembled at the rate of 20 a day at the Nystad plant in Finland. Top
The Saab 900 was equipped with the 2-litre injection engine with 4 valves per cylinder and Saab's climate-adjustable exhaust cleaning system was introduced. Carburettor models were removed from almost every market as was the 8 valve Turbo. The Saab 900 was equipped with high-level brake lights to enhance safety. Saab's anti-lock braking system ABS+3 became available for the first time. The 10,000th Saab 900 convertible was assembled this year. Top
Saab introduced yet another engine innovation on the new Saab 900S. The light pressure turbo which gave the four-cylinder 2-litre 16 valve engine exceptional smoothness. At a speed of 90km/h and in fifth gear the new S-engine produced 69hp, compared to 58hp for the equivalent injection engine, a 19% increase. At a speed of 105km/h it produced 86hp, compared to 72hp a 20% increase. Top
All 1991 Saab models, both 900 and 9000 were now only equipped with 16 valve engines. A 2.1 litre 140hp injection engine was introduced in some markets. This year saw an entirely new version of the Saab 900 Turbo 16S Convertible called the Aero in some markets. It was a Saab 900 Convertible equipped with factory mounted body panels and Aero wheels. The same design as the three-door Saab 900 Turbo 16S Aero. The Convertible version was introduced with a 128hp injection engine. The Saab 900, like the Saab 9000 had a new air filter. The 1991 version of the Saab 900 now had the same seats as the Saab 9000. An electrically adjustable drivers seat was made available. The back seat belt attachments were moved upwards 52mm in the three-door Saab 900. This made them more comfortable as well as safer. The new position further decreased the risk of the passenger "twisting" out of the belts' grip in a collision. The headlight wiper-washers that Saab invented back in 1971 were made 10% more efficient.Top
Saab introduced the 2.1 litre engine in the Nordic markets. All Saab 900's were provided with more basic equipment. Anti-lock brakes became standard on all Saab 900's, there was also an airbag available. This year saw the assembly of the 40,000th Saab 900 Convertible. Top
The Saab 900 with its distinctive design had become a classic in the car world. The Saab 900 was being manufactured in 3 and 5 door models and also as an exclusive Convertible. The engine alternatives ranged in power from 128 to 175hp, 2 litre injection, 2 litre Turbo or the S lpt engine in a 2 litre or 2.1 litre version.