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C900 Workshop Classic 900 (1979-1993 & '94 Convertible) Technical Forum.

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  #1  
Old 28th August 2010
TAPOAFOM TAPOAFOM is offline
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Default Classic SAAB 900 parts availability

Hello all,

After many years of owning SAABs I am currently SAAB-less. I've got the fever again and was interested in purchasing a 900, possibly in the 90-93 range. In checking around I've gotten the feeling that parts could be a problem. Is this going to be a major concern? What about online/aftermarket/ebay availability? Also, from a reliability standpoint, will it be better to go with a manual or automatic transmission?

Apologies if this type of info is readily available in another part of the forum.
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Old 28th August 2010
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I've not had many problems getting parts for the later models, so anything 16 valve would be my suggestion. As far as transmissions, I prefer a standard for reasons other than reliability. Otherwise, in my experience they both tend to have troubles by somewhere around 150,000 miles typically (sometimes earlier, sometimes later). Neither transmission is very complicated and a mechanically inclined person can probably handle rebuilding either one with similar effort and expense. I think that you really just want to choose based on what you prefer to drive. I've had both and enjoyed the auto for some things, but since my primary use is driving long road trips (several per year over 2500 miles, up to 10,000 miles at a time) I found the auto to be both too expensive (fuel economy) and too noisy (higher revs at highway speed). If all I did was drive in town to and from a job with occasional shorter highway excursions, I'd probably be tempted to have an auto.
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Old 30th August 2010
TAPOAFOM TAPOAFOM is offline
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Default Thanks for the quick reply

I'll tackle a lot of cosmetic issues, but will leave the mechanics to someone else. Having said that, I was told that the timing chains can go out early on the automatics (?). Are aftermarket parts plentiful, or do most people go with used parts?
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Old 30th August 2010
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They rarely just "go out". Usually you will be hearing a rattling coming from under the hood giving you ample time to replace it. I'm not aware of the auto causing them to wear any more or less than a standard. I'd think it would mostly depend on driving habits such as highway vs. city driving. Aftermarket parts for wear items are generally plentiful.
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Old 31st August 2010
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The only thing I've found is impossible to find is 8 valve turbo exhaust headers. New ones don't exist and used ones are always cracked.
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Old 31st August 2010
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Ref the 8v headers - new ones will crack anyway, so might as well pay a quality welder experienced in working with cast iron to do a decent repair.

I think you have to dump the manifold in sand to let it cool slowly amongst other things to do it properly
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Old 31st August 2010
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Parts availability is excellent for cars of this age. Parts for Saab, sponsors of this site are pretty good. If you type in said company, others will pop up that are comparable.

Quite a few people worry about gearboxes but if the car hasn't been mucked about with then the manual box should be fine. Here is a link to what is probably the best Classic 900 buying guide there is:

http://www.paradisesaabs.com/c900-buyers-guide.html
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Old 31st August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philjohnhb View Post
Parts availability is excellent for cars of this age.
Seconded. I've used my '90 T16 as my everyday car for the last three years, and have had no reason to doubt the wisdom of doing so.
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Old 31st August 2010
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I see you're in PA - I've got an indie Saab guy in Abbottstown who has spares going back to the 2 stroke days (Lincolnway Automotive) - failing that (let's assume you're in the North Western part of the state) there's always eeuroparts.com - great source for parts - check around - if you're local (south Central PA) drop me a PM and I can direct you to a great parts/service source -

Peace

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Old 31st August 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetman View Post
The only thing I've found is impossible to find is 8 valve turbo exhaust headers. New ones don't exist and used ones are always cracked.
Hah - I've got one stashed with the turbo - just waiting to find the rest of the "stuff" to convert my '87 8V into a fire (well, mid-range fume) breathing dragon (well, perhaps pissed off poodle)!! Will admit it was a bugger of a search - please note I've not installed it yet - I figure the day AFTER I install it and go for boost it'll crack!
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Old 1st September 2010
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Ahem - I have everything you need including a flat nose SPG kit...
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Old 7th September 2010
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Wow, thanks for all of the positive feedback! Another question: What are your thoughts on the turbo vs. non-turbo model? I know that you get more hp from the turbo, but is either one more reliable than the other?
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Old 7th September 2010
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The turbo models are generally less reliable, particularly when we're talking about the stress on the gearbox. Given that the car received regular oil changes (3xxx miles), it should be ok generally speaking. The turbo cars, however, do wear out faster. They are also more complicated.
I'd recommend a normally aspirated main/starter c900, then moving onto a turbocharged after you've gotten used to the car.

But if you're really looking for performance and are willing to spend considerably more time diagnosing and fixing problems, then go for it.
Obviously, turbocharged cars generally will require more funding.

That's my opinion.
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Old 8th September 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuclear944 View Post
The turbo models are generally less reliable, particularly when we're talking about the stress on the gearbox. Given that the car received regular oil changes (3xxx miles), it should be ok generally speaking. The turbo cars, however, do wear out faster. They are also more complicated.
I'd recommend a normally aspirated main/starter c900, then moving onto a turbocharged after you've gotten used to the car.

But if you're really looking for performance and are willing to spend considerably more time diagnosing and fixing problems, then go for it.
Obviously, turbocharged cars generally will require more funding.

That's my opinion.
Sorry, but I've had both many times over and this is not very accurate. The transmissions fail somewhat unpredictably, turbo or not, and there is nothing you can do about it really. I've seen turbos with original trannys go 200,000 miles. I've seen N/As with trannys that didn't make it to 100,000 miles and vice-versa. I have one from an '89 N/A with 110,000 miles sitting in my basement with a broken 5th gear syncro spring which then chewed up the gear teeth and it's far from the first one I've seen. I'm not sure what others have experienced, but from my own experiences and junkyard observations (which are too numerous to count), the trannys last for around 100,00-150,000 miles on average be it auto, manual, turbo or N/A. The exact failure is not always the same though.

As far as engines go, the turbo is no more difficult to learn than the N/A. If you go back to 8 valves, they are nearly identical with the only real addition being the turbo itself (and APC on later 8 valves). In fact, one can bolt on the turbo specific components and run a nice 5 psi boost reliably on an 8 valve N/A compression engine, sans APC (I've done it and it was an absolute pleasure to drive). The 16 vavle is similar in that there are unique systems to each which adds or subtracts complexity, making them about equal. The turbo adds the APC system, but removes the EZK system in favor of a simple mechanical distributor and no crank sensor (I think everyone would rather deal with a hall sensor than a crank sensor). The turbo itself, the intake piping and the boost bypass valve are the only real additions and there's nothing complicated about any of those parts.

For me, after having owned MANY Saabs of different configurations, I'd get a turbo every time. That is, of course, assuming all things are otherwise approximately equal in terms of condition. If you're comparing an N/A with 80,000 miles to a turbo with 220,00 miles, there is an obvious advantage to a car with fewer miles typically. It is quite apparent, when you take an N/A and turn the exact same car into a turbo, just how much better these cars are with some boost. If you have an N/A, I highly recommend learning enough about the turbo system to add it. An N/A with 5psi of boost is peppy off boost and has just enough extra go on boost to do 75mph over a pass at altitude in 5th gear instead of 4th.

The cool thing about Saabs, in my opinion, is the fact that with junkyard parts readily available and often in excellent working condition, you are never stuck with a particular engine configuration if you don't want it. While it's always best to buy what you want upfront, in the absense of that possiblility there is the opportunity to change what you've got INTO what you want. Saab parts just bolt together and play very nicely with each other. You don't even have to stick with the older engine management, since T5 is available in the junkyard to install as well bringing a c900 up to date with currently available ignition components which can be bought new (try finding a new c900 distributor these days).
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