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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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· Registered
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yeah as jez. pointed out, it makes absolutely no ecnomical sense to drive these cars! they can be very expensive to fix, very annoying to fix, and sometimes you feel like kicking it. but there is something about the car when you hop on the freeway and can just fly like a bird so smooth and nible, stable like a train on straight rails, and turbo acceleration WOW! they are so interesting looking, kinda like a spaceship, kinda like a porsche, kinda like a volvo. these engines are incredible and very realible, oh and btw-these transmission aren't that bad!-well they are bad, but compared to other cars, they hold up very well! 300,000kms to any tranny is a huge number! and this is common on these cars! put in a new tranny and your good to go for another 300,000 and then some. its people who treat the transmission like its a race car that blow up! for the love of god! take a couple second to ****, and there is no need for excessive downshifting! switch to honda mtf, ignore the pinion whine, don't floor it in reverse and she will hold up just fine!
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