1988 SPG, in rough shape. [Archive] - SaabCentral Forums

: 1988 SPG, in rough shape.

25th August 2008, 04:40 AM
So I bought this car in 2004, it was my first vehicle, and im sure some of you remember me asking ridiculous questions regarding it. I swapped the engine out in 2007, but due to oil leaks near/around the turbo and oil pan gasket the engine suffered badly (I was putting in a litre of oil every 200km or less). The turbo developped shaft play and SOMEHOW the transmission took on water to form a chocolate milk-like mixture, in addition to 5th gear not working and various syncros failing.

The car was then broken into and had all its stereo gear stolen, in addition to various trim pieces being broken during their extraction (and a window).

Short story, the car was worthless.

The body was thought to be in decent shape, but upon close inspection both the trunk, and decent sized sections of the floor pans were completely rusted out.

I spent the last 2 years building up my Nissan 200sx (Rb25det skyline swap) and had dedicated ZERO time to the upkeep of my saab...

Now its time to repay that debt.

I started with a 1989 900 turbo automatic parts car, extracted many parts from it, many for the interior, and new motor with far fewer miles. Im am in the process of acquiring a rebuilt 5 speed in exchange for the fairly fresh automatic that it came with. Currently I am addressing the issue of body rust.

I purchased a few goodies for the car, the list is currently:

-Genuine carlsson kit (Needs repainting, missing 1 fender flare which I am moulding from eurathane in a fiberglass mould)
-Wooden dash kit
-New shocks all around
-New headlights

Everything else is taken from the parts car, radiator, steering rack, etc...

Here are some pictures of the current state of the car (the horror), and my epic struggle to revitalize it.

The front end, carlsson bumper test fitted, old headlights, powertrain removed.


The new heart



Dirt collection


25th August 2008, 04:43 AM
The work area


Drivers side :S


Some quality bondo work (passenger)


Drivers side rear seat


Not pleased with this, I could have done better, must fill with metal strips.


To be replaced


I am not a professional body man, and am working with very rudimetary tools. The welder I am using is new to me, and I am currently running flux core, thus all the test weld I did on the trunk brace. The replacement trunk is being put in in 4 sections, the cuts made did not line up exactly how it should have, but such is the way when trying to work in 3 dimensions while cutting on only 2.

I am still in search for new seats for which I can make brackets (either 9000 or aftermarket, must be leather) and goodies such as a nice steering wheel etc. The 200sx is my plaything therefore I just want this to be a reliable cruiser.

25th August 2008, 03:18 PM
I applaud the effort and will be keeping an eye on this thread. I will be chanting encouragement when needed and adding ideas when I can. Best wishes to you! :)

30th August 2008, 04:17 AM
This is some dirty, dirty work. Most of it is simply cleaning of the years of grease, oil, and filth that has accumulated in addition to the extremely unsafe patch panels that were put in place.

As i mentioned, I am no body man, but I can at least recognize a half assed attempt at patching. The rust was not removed, it was spot welded in maybe 15 points, and then slathered with body fill.. The poor car. I hope that my attemps will at least be a marginal improvement.

The passenger side floor pan. you can see the bits of rusted flooring were still stuck to the frame rails, this was just plain lazy (whomever did the patching). I have progressed further than this and will upload those photos when I can.


Rear passenger footwell. Small rust hole, may have been drainage at one point, if it was, I will most certainly be adding a replacement drain plug.


The trunk, or lack thereof.


Trunk patch panel, not a perfect fit, but better than what it was!


I am sure learning alot as I go, I just cant wait to get to the drivetrain, thats where I really plan on shining... :)


30th August 2008, 08:07 AM
That's a great find and the work your doing is not for your avarage guy that has never done the work before. Just one thing, those two plastic lines on the drivers side along the floor, protect them from all sparks when welding. They are fuel lins and I had to repair mine on one of my other saabs, from a hot welding blob or spark, melted right through.:o Inded up using 1/4 copper tube and slid the plastic lines over the copper and it never leaked.

30th August 2008, 11:55 AM

I Would suggest you spray that front vertical wall of the trunk with some sort of rust primer. It looks like you grinded/sanded it a little, but it will continue to accumulate surface rust within a day or two if you don't add some sealant. So sand it up real quick, clean it off and spray it as soon as you can. Maybe and hours worth of work and $10 worth of spray material. Can you get POR-15 in Canada?

30th August 2008, 03:01 PM
Advice taken, though the metal you see is deeply pitted and the majority of the rust was there from the get-go. I've got wire wheels, brake cleaner, and galvanizing zinc paint to coat my welds once they are finished.


31st August 2008, 12:55 AM
Another day of work. I changed a few settings on the welder, and now I am welding a grounding tab on all patch panels so I can get less resistance and better welds (hopefully). I just discovered my neighbour is a certified welder, which will likely come in handy!!

Cut out the drivers side floorpan, welded in a patch




Started dealing with the front end of the car, making repairs to the latch catch, and upper radiator crossmember.



Forward bumper supports are basically completely gone, these will likely be my next assignment.



Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirty work.


3rd September 2008, 09:48 AM
how do you repair a leaking sunroof in a saab? What should I use?:roll:

3rd September 2008, 10:19 AM
how do you repair a leaking sunroof in a saab? What should I use?:roll:

You should really start your own thread for that question next time, so while you are here, here you go. What I have used is a small 1/8th diamitor coil wire something like a snake for a drain. I have used old steedo cable also that works great. There are 4 holes, one on each corner of the sun roof. The two front one's are easy but depending on your sun roof the back one's may be a bit harder. I can't get at the back one's on my power sun roof but when I had the standard type I could. If you can't get at the back one's, take off the vents from your rear 1/4rs Just above the rear tire and you will find the drain hose conected to the vent. Run your snake up the hose from there. When you run the snake down the front one's you will see it come out just under the fron windsheald if you door is open or hood is up.

13th September 2008, 10:02 PM
Forward bumper supports are basically completely gone, these will likely be my next assignment.



Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirty work.

Ive done a few fixes of these before, basically, you cut the entire mount aout of another car, one with no rust preferably, and then carefully cut one side out at a time, and weld the replacements in. it usually helps to have a few sets of vice grips, and a buddy or 2.

19th October 2008, 01:20 AM
I'm going to go for the patching approach, i've developped a knack for making templates and mocking up galvanized steel. The only thing that concerns me here is changing any crash characteristics.. IE: I still want it to crumple where it should.


19th October 2008, 08:27 AM
I'm going to go for the patching approach, i've developped a knack for making templates and mocking up galvanized steel. The only thing that concerns me here is changing any crash characteristics.. IE: I still want it to crumple where it should.


You don't have to worry about crash characteristics, as long as you are replacing metal of the same guage and welding it in. If you do anything less than that it may crush even more. Not all arias on a car are crush zones, it all depends on what you are working on.

19th October 2008, 02:01 PM
I'm going to go for the patching approach, i've developped a knack for making templates and mocking up galvanized steel. The only thing that concerns me here is changing any crash characteristics.. IE: I still want it to crumple where it should.


I wouldn't be too concerned as long as it looks sort of the same. If you weld like 1/2 inch thick steel plates and stuff then I would worry, well maybe not worry but would be mildly "interested."

19th October 2008, 08:53 PM
Keep it up Dan and I look forward to checking up on your progress. Thanks for saving another wonderful SPG....


14th April 2009, 12:07 AM
Updates, it has been a while - I've been quite busy with school.

I've decided to do a rebuild of my manual tranny myself, and have been taking my sweet time with it. One issue i've got is determining whether or not my brass synchro rings are worn or not. From what I can tell 2nd and 3rd (the molybdenum coated ones) are in bad shape, but all others appear OK.

The body of the car has been toyed with a bit more, namely pressure washing the engine bay, followed by degreasing, more pressure washing, sanding, more pressure washing, and finally primer gray tremclad rust paint being rolled/brushed on. I find working in light engine bays much much easier than BLACK. I've repaired both of the front bumper supports as well as the holes in the lower front fenders (no pics of those). The trunk is getting closer to completion - I just have 1 more major section to be welded into place. I'll be switching to argon gas on my mig soon since I find the flux to induce rust a little too quickly for my liking (even with galvanizing paint). Here are some pictures!

At the beginning I had just quickly sprayed a few of the rusted areas with galvanizing paint and was going to paint them black. I wasnt happy with how it wasnt adhering well and looked like *****.



After a preliminary coating with the roller, most everything else will be done by brush:




Here are my synchro packs, judging by what you fellows see what would you say needs replacement? Any awesome suggestions on how to follow through on the rebuild aside from keeping things clean, using new gaskets, and replacing the primary/cluster shaft bearing(s)?

1st gear synchro pack


2nd gear synchro pack


3rd gear synchro pack


4th gear synchro pack


14th April 2009, 12:10 AM
And finally I opted to solidify my motor mounts with a hard setting eurathane compound. I started by gutting one of my motor mounts with a combination of screw driver attacks, knives, and angle grinder fury UNTIL I got this:


First I prepared a washer to allow the bolt to grip the putty and not spin:


Then its just like making cupcakes:


That is all for now, folks!


22nd April 2009, 02:50 AM
A few more updates.. I am still working on finishing the engine bay, I only put in maybe 15 hours a week into the car and I am a fairly slow worker despite being young and spry.

I opted to remove the rad support for a number of reasons namely it was incredibly rusty underneath and I decided it needed a good going over, it will receive a full wire brushing, sanding, rust converting and then priming..

Start of the day:


Some sanding, painting, and dirty clothes later:


mad max? For some reason I find this look to be quite menacing - despite having no engine... :S


A area I patched/replaced that needs grinding and body work:


I know my work is not of the highest quality, but I truly do want to save this car and make is as good as I possibly can.

More work to be done soon, will be ordering transmission rebuild components this week.

Not sure if its against forum rules but i've also put my old SPG body kit up for sale on ebay ( http://cgi.ebay.ca/Saab-900-SPG-body-kit-1986-1994-Take-a-look_W0QQitemZ290312032210QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotor s_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories?hash=item29031203221 0&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1215|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A13 18 (http://cgi.ebay.ca/Saab-900-SPG-body-kit-1986-1994-Take-a-look_W0QQitemZ290312032210QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotor s_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories?hash=item29031203221 0&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1215%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318) )

Thanks for looking!


22nd April 2009, 06:56 AM
Take the engine bay heat shield that is on the firewall off(if that made any sense) most of the time there is rust behind it.

22nd April 2009, 07:40 PM
I will try to do that but it appears to be riveted in place so it may not happen, thanks for the tip though! Today I will be detailing the smaller/hard to reach areas by brush and begin re-assembly of the engine bay peripherals.


1st June 2009, 02:41 PM
A bit more work has been done, the trunk is now complete and it just needs to be seam sealed. I removed the radiator support completely and sanded it down, primed, painted and then reinstalled.








I had decided I was going to need to repatch that particular part of the floor anyways since my patches did not fit correctly.. The sheet metal there was quite thin and pock marked with holes so I cut the entire floor out.. The spot welds will be beefed up and eventually seam sealed as well..

I'm starting to get better at this whole rust replacement thing..


1st June 2009, 06:39 PM
Nice weldings and the core support looks very nice. What kind of welder are you using?

2nd June 2009, 01:29 AM
Nice weldings and the core support looks very nice. What kind of welder are you using?


It is a lincoln SP-100, running .030 flux wire without gas. The only downside with the flux is having the wirebrush/grind all welds afterwards, and also the lack of having the gas to cool the weld. Those tacks will be expanded upon and then seam sealed in the next few days.


2nd June 2009, 10:54 AM
Looking good. It is amazing how much more work you find when you try to fix a couple small issues

7th June 2009, 10:51 PM

The floor work is DONE DONE DONE.. Pics will do the talking.








Ooooooh burgandy carpets..... How very 80's of me..



18th December 2009, 02:24 AM
Much has changed, a list of the events that have taken shape.

-Interior is 90% reassembled
-Engine bay is wired, radiator and most auxiliary systems (oil cooler, steering rack, etc) are installed
-Carlsson wheel arches are installed
-Rear bumper mounted

The motor that was intended for this car received a small amount of water inside two of the cylinders, I had poured 1/2 a cup of motor oil into each cylinder and had it stored outdoors under a roof - this apparently was not enough due to our very humid climate in BC. The engine seized.

The original '88 block was no good, all the pistons showed heavy signs of wear, and the bores were ovaled and one of the sleeves was even cracked.. It has suffered overheating and oil loss problems.

Due to the fact that I need to rebuild my '88 5 speed, I bought a 1991 5 speed from a non-turbo car, the wrecker wasn't able to remove the shortblock so I received it at no extra charge.. What I have decided to do is use this lower half of the motor and mate it up to the cylinder head of the engine that had seized.. I checked all the valves and they are rust free, it is the pistons rings that rusted to the bores.

So as it stands I am going to end up with:
-1991 non-turbo engine block
-1991 manual trans
-1989 automatic cylinder head and manifolds
-1988 SPG fuel injectors, maf, APC, and ECU

A few notable changes are that the '91 trans doesnt have the reverse sensor on the transmission (gearshifter housing instead?), and since the engine block was non-turbo, I've had to drive out the filler plug to make room for the turbo oil return, also the oil filter housing will need to be swapped to enable the use of the oil cooler.

Is there anything else I should be wary of? I didn't notice any piston oilers in the turbo block so I think I am ok there, but I have also considered the possible lack of sodium filled valves to be a potential issue, and also the compression ratio I may end up with.. This is a temporary solution at best to get the car on the road, when the '88 box is rebuilt I will be using it with a built up proper turbo block with a fresh set of valves and pistons.. Anything major I should be on the look for with my mix-mash of engine/drivetrain components?

Some pics.

non turbo block being prepped.


Seized turbo motor.


Turbo cylinder head and manifolds ready to be mated to the non-turbo block.


Chasing out all the cylinder head bolt holes.