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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?

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· Moderator
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Actually, it's not that bad from an economic POV. If I was changing my car every 3 years (as the motor trade like you to do), I'd be spending far more than I'm spending keeping two C900s running. I've had one for 10 years now and the other for 3. I get far more pleasure out of these than I'd get from the type of car I'd be able to afford to change every 3 years.

Of course, the kicker will come when these ones die and I can't get a C900 anymore. I'm 40ish now so I just have to keep them going for another 40 years... ;)
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