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The economics of Auto to Manual swap

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I'm in the second week of ownership of my third Saab.

An old 99 got me through High School.
An 87 900S 20 years later
And two weeks ago an 89 900, with automatic transmission

I'm an aeronautical engineer and I believe the older Saabs are one of the best cars I've ever driven. I bought the 1989 and almost immediately started to regret the purchase. The car (with my repair work) is pristine. Only a small scratch is on it. Yet, I'm regreting the purchase -- someone called a meeting at Saab and proposed as an agenda installing a 3 speed automatic transmision! I don't have fuel economy data on the car yet, but I'm anticipating it may come in at around 20 MPG.

So, I've been reading about manual transmission swaps. My 1987 was a beautiful malechite green car with a 5 speed and the pinion bearing went. People told me that manual transmissions in Saabs are known for pinion/synchro failures and while I'm capable and interested in performing a swap on the car -- the thought of taking a perfectly fine automatic and installing a bad manual transmission makes me shudder!

Which raises the question: HOW CAN YOU JUSTIFY A SWAP from a cost standpoint? It seem like a bad financial decision. For example:

Blue book for an 89 Saab is $1500. That's a mid-range figure. A used transmission (including clutch, and other hardware) is at LEAST $800. A used transmission stands a god chance of needing replacement in 2 years if you believe the people I've talked to.

That means going to a rebuilt transmission -- that will cost more than the value of the car -- perhaps by a factor of two.

You could buy an entire car for that much! A good one! So, I'm extremely curious -- what rationale, logic, or motivation would cause one to justify swapping transmissions? I'm SURE this is a newbie question -- in fact I am new to this forum and ask for your patience. What am I missing here?

Siggy
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I put no money into my Saabs and just drive them until they die. Thus most of my repairs are just bodge jobs to keep it on the road. I do have decent supply of parts cars now so I can do a better job, but ultimately I do as little as possible. That being said I am considering a tranny swap on my auto boxed current ride. Why? because I have a couple of decent M-Trans to choose from and clutches and all that. The reason I would do it is the exact same one you're considering...possible 10mpg or more fuel economy improvement. I do 500km a week, so that adds up pretty quick.

What's my point? Find a dead parts car with a reasonable M-tran and do the swap if you're so inclined. But dont bother if you're going to have to shell out $1500 to buy all the stuff and have someone do it. You should be able to get a decent parts car for free or at least less than $100. Plus with the price of scrap metal these days, you can probably sell it back to a scrapper for the $100 quite easiliy.
 

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Depending on the year, those RPMs could be higher. Just ask me, and my 85. You could try really big 4x4 swamp tires for the final drive you want :cheesy:
 
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