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Discussion Starter #1
New project! I found this car on Craigslist for $350 and couldn't resist. ;) I'm still giving thought to what exactly I want the scope of this project to be and hope to get some thoughts from all of you.

First, if you aren't aware, there were officially approximately 400 1986 Saab 900 Convertibles made. The following year, the front end was given the facelift, so these pre-facelift cars are quite rare. It is surely possible that many of these have already met an end, particularly because few people know how uncommon a flatnosed convertible is. The goals of this project are still under consideration. I'm very tempted to try and restore this car to original condition without significant deviation from stock. However, I'm also very tempted to deviate from stock configurations, including adding a flatnose SPG kit. There in lies my dilemma. This car seems to be one of those models that deserves to be preserved, but at the same time it might be a more exciting car otherwise. Thoughts?

Currently, the car is stock and seems to be nearly complete including the hard covers for the top. As far as I can tell, it may be that every '86 convertible was silver. The only example that seems to be otherwise is the one in the Heritage Collection which is considered to be more of a prototype anyways (reportedly with possible wooden spoiler parts?). As for the production cars, I have yet to find one that was not silver with a black top and dark grey leather interior. This one is no exception and follows suit. I plan to retain the color scheme and keep that pretty much as stock.

There did seem to be both auto and 5 speed versions, this one being a 5 speed. I am tempted to upgrade to a newer example of the 5 speed and perhaps put the original into storage just in case. The engine is the standard 2.0 turbo, just as it would be in the standard turbo model.

The condition currently is a mixed bag. The exterior is in remarkably good shape apart from a broken parking lamp and crack in the grille. There are very few dings and no dents to speak of really. The original paint is not peeling, fading or scratched anywhere and the clear coat looks almost as I imagine it did new. There isn't any rust apart from a little surface (mostly) rust near the battery tray. The rubber spoiler and surround is as close to new as I've seen, with no pitting or degredation to the surface finish. It still feels soft and smooth. The top is garbage. ;)

The interior is where the issues mostly reside. In fact, to say that it was disgusting to even deal with is an understatement. I'd go into details, but I'm finding it hard to describe the findings with some sense of dignity. :D

Aside from the serious need for removal of 3 extra large lawn bags full of garbage, the PO left the windows down for who knows how long and there was a lake inside the floorboards. You may wonder about the "floor rusters", but the carpet is half torn out which seems to have kept that from being as much of a problem. The seats are about as bad as I've seen and the door panel rubber is split in places. For a car that appears on the outside to have been garaged all it's life, the interior is just in shambles (though the dash has only a couple small cracks). The metal under the drivers side rear seat foot space is rusty around the rubber gromet and will need to be repaired (I don't expect that it will be to a large extent). The passengers side appears to still be exclusively surface rust and so far the drivers foot well also seems to be surface rust. There won't be too much floor pan repair necessary, but some. The trunk not rusted beyond surface rust but is missing something on the drivers side such as a floor panel or spare tire and cover. I'm unfamiliar with convertibles and don't yet know what is supposed to be there. Anyone car to share?

A few photos are attached. I did find amoung the various digusting things left in the car a very good MightyVac, so that was a nice bonus!
 

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You also forgot to mention the miniature lineman pliers, 6"lineman pliers, and 6" regular pliers. Trunk and back seat were in the class of "teenage females abandoned closet" and however long they were in the weather made it a question of "bio" or "inhalation" hazard. :p
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I spent this afternoon getting the windows up to keep the weather from making things any worse. The ignition won't turn, so the only way currently seemed to be to physically lift the windows with the motors out of the way. While doing this I made some interesting discoveries.

The mounting holes for the window regulators seem to have been hand drilled to modified locations from the original design. The stamped out holes meant to be used were still covered in paint as if they had never had a regulator mounted to them. It's hard to describe, but it looks to me as if they discovered that the designed placement was not properly located for the window to go up correctly and made modifications to the locations on the line by hand.

There was also a very large glob of black rubber body sealant such as that used elsewhere on these cars which seemed to serve the purpose of filling a hole at the antennae drain tube that they hadn't really figured out how to deal with properly.

Overall, there is a lot to this car that is starting to look like the first 400 may have been a test production as much as anything.

I am also curios to know from other convertible owners if the rear seatbelts are asymmetrical. The belts in this car appear to be original and match in every way, but the buckles are different from one side to the other. They are also apparently meant to attach to the opposite buckle, meaning that they would criss-cross if both in use. It really appears to be designed to force the user to use a specific buckle rather than seeming to be a haphazardly installed mismatched set. Is this normal?

Also, thanks to crwchf01 for help with the car today!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You also forgot to mention the miniature lineman pliers, 6"lineman pliers, and 6" regular pliers. Trunk and back seat were in the class of "teenage females abandoned closet" and however long they were in the weather made it a question of "bio" or "inhalation" hazard. :p
Yes, it was very disgusting to say the least. :x:cry::cheesy:
 

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You're a lucky man! Can't wait to see the progress of this... I would have snatched this up in a heartbeat if I wasn't on the opposite coast. :cry:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You're a lucky man! Can't wait to see the progress of this... I would have snatched this up in a heartbeat if I wasn't on the opposite coast. :cry:
Thanks!

There's actually a 2 door sedan on your end of the country that I'd buy if it were closer. Comes with an SPG kit for $900, so not too bad. By the time I'd get over there and back into the driveway so to speak, it would be double or triple that, so not worth it really.
 

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It's all rusty...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Made some progress on the convertible today. Mostly, I just removed the interior and started cleaning it out. For now, I just need to get it to a point where I'm not annoying the neighbors with a derelict looking car, so I'll be putting in a reasonably functional temporary interior. I also have to get my emissions done this week, so tomorrow I'll be installing a muffler and working on getting it running well enough to pass.

Here's a couple photos. The first shows some of what I believe to show that these first year models were as much a test run as anything. Maybe others will have some input, but my guess is that there were problems that needed to be ironed out when the '87 model year was built, so the short production of '86s was probably as much to figure those things out as anything. The first photo is a good example. The holes punched when the doors were made would appear to have been incorrectly positions, possibly causing problems with the function of the windows going up and down. The upper righthand bolt hole seems to have been retained as a pivot and the other 3 holes along with the motor bolt access holes have been redrilled in a new location. This is symmetrical on the other door and does not look to be the work of a previous owner when viewed in person. The red arrows point to what appear to be stamped holes, while the green arrows point to the relocated holes. It should be noted that the holes are quite well drilled and show as round not triangular as it would be if a weekend hack had done this. There are no markings on the original tooling holes to suggest that there was ever anything mounted to them.

The second photo shows the progress of cleaning out the muck inside. It is finally getting to the point where a person can stand to smell the interior as it's mostly a soapy smell now. :)

I also installed a different shifter housing complete with ignition switch and lock. This was due to the fact that the key supplied by the PO did not seem to fit the ignition, so it was not possible to start the car. Fortunately for the sake of moving the vehicle after purchase, the reverse lockout feature was shot and it was possible to shift to neutral. The keys do fit the rest of the locks, so I think the ignition had been switched and the new key lost. The reverse lockout now functions properly and the car will crank.

After the exhaust, I just have to bleed the clutch and I should be ready to roll for a test drive and hopefully a final emissions test. If it passes (which I don't doubt it will), the car will be classified as a "classic" before the next required test which will make it exempt (cars 25 years and older are exempt here and the test is good for 2 years). I never worry about it in a Saab anyways, they are very clean cars when in good repair.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Another interesting tidbit is that the rear spherical reading lamps in the speaker grille are actually those used in the Ford Granada MK2 and have the Ford logo on them. Curious if that was the go forward light in later models, so if anyone knows I'd like to hear about it?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Easy fix for that...

Haha, they probably wouldn't like that much either. That would probably be a good solution if I had a driveway. I live on a steep hill with about 3 stories worth of stairs to my front door, so it's street parking only.

Other than the patches on the top, the exterior is really in excellent shape, looking like it's 2 years old instead of 25 years old. Once the temporary interior is in, it will look pretty respectable. A new top this summer will also go a long ways in the looks department. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Figured out why the clutch didn't work today. The PO said that it needed to be bled and had just had a new line run from the master to the slave. It did appear, in fact, that this is true and likely may even have had a new master and slave installed by the look of them. What he failed to mention is that the reason the clutch didn't work is not due to anything related to hydrolics.

I felt that the pedal felt oddly resistance-less and couldn't imagine how it was possible that I was not getting even some build on the pressure to start bleeding the line. After some head scratching, I thought I'd remove the knee bolster both as part of a change over to a temporary tan interior and to afford some sightline to the master cylinder, which I was starting to suspect had a bad seal or something to that effect (I hadn't really formulated much of an opinion as to the source of my woes, just the start of thoughts precipitating really ;) ). After gaining a good look at the clutch pedal, it all made sense.

The "U", as I will call it for lack of better knowledge, on the end of the pushrod that goes into the master cylinder had broken off of the pushrod. The PO, or perhaps someone else, had tried to duct tape the rod to the pedal by placing a larger cylinder onto the shaft (in an effort to afford some surface area to displace the pressure) and then wrapping copious amounts of duct tape around the whole assembly. As anyone with even basic understanding of how much force the pedal exerts onto the master would guess, this time the McGyver method failed quite miserably.

For the current phase of this project, I just need to get on the road long enough to get the emissions tested, so I went for a more sturdy fix and welded the "U" back onto the rod. I let the rod cool and then rotated it 90 degrees and welded again, another 90 then again, and a final 90 then again. I've moved the clutch forcefully to test it and so far the welds seem to be holding up quite well. However, the material does seem like it didn't take a weld very well so I'll soon replace the entire master.

I installed some 3 door tan interior parts including passable carpet which I cut to fit at the rear, door panels which don't fit perfectly but do the job (you'd really have to know what you're looking at to tell they don't belong), center console, knee bolster and a driver's seat. Passenger (front) seat soon to follow tomorrow.

I should be sitting with a driveable 'vert tomorrow if all goes as planned, then off to the emissions on Tuesday. Once the registration is current, the car can safely occupy a spot on the street without fear of being towed away as an abandoned vehicle.
 

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I wonder if the doors for these early cars were from 2 or 3 doors and had the window surrounds cut away for the 'verts. The difference in the windscreen rakes between hard tops and soft tops and the need for the windows perhaps to move up and down at different angles is the reason for the different mounts for the window regulators?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I wonder if the doors for these early cars were from 2 or 3 doors and had the window surrounds cut away for the 'verts. The difference in the windscreen rakes between hard tops and soft tops and the need for the windows perhaps to move up and down at different angles is the reason for the different mounts for the window regulators?
Not sure. I'll do a comparison and report back. My guess is that these are convertible specific, not modified from other doors, but that they miscalculated the location of the regulators as it pertains to the window glass lining up with the top.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It's alive!!! As I suspected, I was able to start it right up once I had a fully charged booster pack. Several of the vacuum hoses disintegrated upon the engine firing up, so it died if I took my foot off the gas. I pulled out some new vac line and replaced what was needed, then restarted. The car idled OK, but not quite right so I took another look and found one more vacuum leak at a disconnected hose. Once connected, the car idled beautifully and dead on at approximately 850 rpms (just below the "1" on the RPM gauge).

I hadn't installed the muffler yet, but will get it on tomorrow in time to get my emissions done. The engine sounds great, with the typical throaty burble that these turbos seem to always produce. There is a bit of lifter noise from a lack of oil, but I'll venture to guess that it will be gone before I make it to the emissions station. Most of it disappeared within a couple minutes of startup. I am pretty confident that as well as it runs, there will be no issues getting past emissions with flying colors. :D

I also made some progress with the windows. Once the engine was running, I get plenty of WD-40 down into the motors and worked on them until they broke free and started operating again. I've now got 3 working electric windows, both rears and the passenger front. Unfortunately, the driver's front is completely missing the teeth on the regulator, so I'lll have to fix that by other means. The glass wants to fall down about half way, so I used a ton of zip-ties to hold the regulator in position to keep it all the way up. There are enough of them that pressing down on the window glass cannot break them, so the car is now as secure as it can be. I even found that the central locking system is working properly!

From what I was able to gather, by comparison, most of the parts are the same between the 3 door and convertible regulators. They are just assembled differently which produces a different resulting motion. In theory, I should be able to use the geared portion of a 3 door regulator to replace the same part on the convertible, provided I can figure out how to hold them together since the original regulators are assembled with what amount to rivits, not bolts. I think I may be able to machine something up which will also server to make them easier to maintain in the future as well.

I also installed the other bucket seat, so a casual look into the car leaves the impression that it is in good repair. With the windows all up, it is not nearly the eyesore it was when I got it. :)
 

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Well, Dr. Frankenvert:p, what are you going to do now? Was the reverse in good shape? Bring the removed shifter by and I'll see about getting the lock out without destruction.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The 2/3 door regulators are the same as vert regulators.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for this car. It may be that they later changed the doors to use the same regulator, but on this '86 they are very clearly different. I had them side by side for comparison and while they share many of the same components, there are a couple that differ the ones in common are assemble in a different way One of the subtly different parts is the plate that the motor mounts to. There are different holes threaded for mounting the regulator to the door and the threaded holes have spacers that hold it at a different angle than the 2/3 door regulator would sit.

As for the regulator assembly, it almost looks like the opposite regulator. The driver's side looks closer to the passenger side on a 3 door, but still not quite the same. The individual arms and the rails are the same pieces, but they have been flipped around in different ways to create a different motion. I will be later on rebuilding the driver's door regulator, so you'll be able to see the differences in detail at that point. I'll document it pretty thoroughly so hopefully others will be able to rebuild their regulators as well (same principles will apply to all regulators).
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I did some welding today and finished up the exhaust system. It came with only a partial straight pipe after the catalytic converter, so I had to hack some misc. pipes together to get a complete system. I had a couple of turbo tailpipes around and a good turbo muffler which I had shortened the inlet pipe on when removing, so with a little effort it all came together quite well. I was quite proud of the welds today, not one of my strong suits really. I recently picked up a flux core wire feed welder from Harbor Freight for $110. It does a surprisingly good job when paired with some Lincoln flux core wire. For those that haven't used one, the splatter is somewhat of a typical byproduct similar to using an arc welder, but slightly less. After welding, I hammered the slag off and brushed the weld to see how it looked. Not too bad for a cheap welder run by a hack! ;)



After welding up the exhaust and installing it, I was able to test the motor out some more without bothering the neighborhood. While it was idling at spec, the vacuum on the boost gauge seemed a bit high. I figured I still had a vacuum leak to track down, and discovered it was the line going to the BOV(?) down below the thermostat (or so). After refastening the line, the idle continued to be very good and the vacuum level was showing to be about 1/3 the way from maximum vacuum ( CCW as the scale on the gauge reads) as it should in my experience. After idling for a half an hour or so, the remaining valvetrain ticking completely disappeared and the engine now seems to be very healthy. I moved the car off of the ramps which I had used for the exhaust work and took the photos below.






After dinner, I took the car out for it's first drive and discovered that not all is good. I know that first and reverse worked fine, since I'd used those to move the car around. I did not know the condition of the rest of the gears though. Second gear worked fine, but once I tried to shift into third it became obvious that the 3rd/4th syncro is completely shot. There really is no shifting into 3rd and while you can shift into 4th, there are no teeth to turn the shaft. :eek: At least 5th gear still works! :D

I believe I should be able to get my emissions test completed anyways, so that is still the plan for tomorrow morning. Once I get it passed, then I'll need to pull the motor out and replace the transmission. I'm about half done with reconditioning one (no new parts, just checking condition, cleaning and reassembling), so I should be able to get back on the road with a solid transmission quickly.
 
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