August 20, 2008

Early Turbo.

At the time of writing, I own nine cars. I could cause my own traffic jam if I wanted to. But, it hasn't always been this way. In early 2005, I only owned two! Both of them Alfas (1966 GTV and 1988 Milano Verde), both of them are still part of my fleet today and neither of them run.

Back to 2005-- I was starting to realize what a huge mistake it was to drive my Milano every day and was looking to retire it from daily duties and replace it with something more reliable. At the time I was enamored with Saabs (this obsession came to a halt in 2007 when I owned a 1989 900 Turbo, the car that put me off them for a while.) I was thrilled when driving home one day I saw a black 900 with a big cardboard "for sale" sign across the windshield. Also on the windshield were fliers:

"For Sale $400
1980 SAAB 900 Turbo
Engine and turbo work great
All electrical, lights, lock, windows work great
Needs work on power steering and bearings"

Sounded pretty alright to me. I called and set up a time to drive it. A closer look revealed this wasn't your average 900 Turbo. With a build date of 1/80, this was one of the very first Turbos produced! It had several early production details, notably a 5-speed badge on the rear, the old Triumph-based B motor, a double vented hood, some interior pieces that were carried over from the 99, Inca wheels and the early grille. 105,000 miles on a working odometer, the interior was in very good shape. It had some rust but nothing major. It needed a left front headlight and I just happened to have one (and still do) from a 1984 I owned in the summer of 2004. I drove it briefly, I don't remember much aside from the fantastic amount of turbo lag, apparently normal for a 900 of this vintage. The drivetrain was in good shape. No matter the power steering and what not, I had to own this car.

At the time I was finishing up my last year of high school, unemployed and driving an Alfa Romeo, needless to say that money was not on my side. It took a couple of days of but I managed to gather up $400 and called the guy to tell him I'd buy it. I got his voicemail: "Hi, this is ____. If you're calling about the Saab, it's gone. I repeat, the Saab is gone."

Waaait.. what? I called again about an hour after and this time he answered. Turns out somebody was test driving it and the car "stopped, parts were everywhere on the road." An axle boot was ripped and the axle had finally seized. The obvious remedy to that was to junk the car. I thought he was kidding but nope, he gave me the name and address of the junkyard he shipped it off to, Tear-A-Part on Redwood Road.

I went there a couple of weeks later and sure enough, the car was there with a newly acquired dent on the quarter panel. I pulled the 5-speed badge, the grille and the hood and had to leave the rest there.


Anonymous said...

this isn't really a turbo tho. at least no charger mounted! looks like the average 900i 5speed 2.0 motor.

Ronan said...

No, there's a turbo.