Saab 900 Turbo 16S
The 900, an automobile from Saab, was released in 1978 for the 1979 model year, and was produced through 1993 (some cabriolets were sold as 1994 models). It wa...More »
Saab 900 Turbo 16S
The 900, an automobile from Saab, was released in 1978 for the 1979 model year, and was produced through 1993 (some cabriolets were sold as 1994 models). It was based on the Saab 99 chassis, but had a longer front end to meet U.S. frontal crash regulations. The drag coefficient was 0.34. The 900 was produced in 2- and 4-door sedan, and 3- and 5-door coupe configurations; additionally, from 1986, a cabriolet (convertible) model was produced. There were single- and twin-carburetor carburetor, fuel-injection and turbocharged engines, including both full pressure (FPT), and, in European models during the early 90s, low pressure turbos (LPT).
The Saab 900 was a front-engined, front-wheel-drive compact car with a longitudinally-mounted, 45-degree slanted, inline 4-cylinder engine, double wishbone front suspension and beam-axle rear suspension. In its heyday, the 900 was popular with drivers who enjoyed its comfort, safety, practicality (especially hatchbacks), and highway driving manners.
Like its predecessor the 99, the 900 contained a number of unusual design features that distinguish it from most other cars. Firstly, the engine was installed 'backwards', with power delivered from the crank at the front of the car. Secondly, the transmission, technically a transaxle, bolted directly to the bottom of the engine (albeit with separate oil lubrication). Power from the crank would thus be delivered out of the engine at the front, then transferred down and back to the transmission below, via a set of chain-driven primary gears. Similarly, Minis also had their gearbox mounted directly below the engine; however, the Mini gearbox and engine shared the same oil, whereas the Saab 900 (and 99) gearboxes contained a separate sump for engine oil.
Very few front-wheel drive cars utilized a longitudinally-mounted engine configuration. Fewer still utilized a double wishbone suspension design. Refined over several decades of two-digit Saab models, the 900's double wishbone design provided excellent handling and road feel. The rear suspension comprised a typical beam axle design, stabilized with a Panhard rod. However, the attachment points between the axle and chassis made up an unusual configuration that essentially consists of two Watts links at either end of the axle: a lower control arm attaches the axle to the bottom of the vehicle, while an upper link attaches at the top but faces towards the rear, unlike a typical 4-link design with both lower and upper links facing forward. Early models did not have sway bars; they began appearing on certain models in 1985 and, in U.S. and possibly other markets, became standard on all trim levels by the late 1980s. The sway bars decreased body roll, but at the expense of some ride comfort and, when driven aggressively, increased inside wheelspin. The front and rear bars' diameters were unchanged throughout the model's run.
Stylistically, the 900 utilized a deeply curved front windshield, calling attention to the marque's aircraft legacy. The hatchback, or Combi Coupé cars were exceptionally spacious, if not universally loved for their aesthetics. Also underscoring their aircraft lineage, the 900's dashboard was curved to enable easy reach of all controls and featured back-lit gauges. Saab engineers placed all controls and gauges in the dashboard according to their frequency of use and/or importance so that the driver need divert his gaze from the road for the shortest possible time and by the smallest angle. This is why, for example, the oft-used radio is placed so high in the dashboard.
The 900 underwent minor cosmetic design changes for 1987, including restyled front-end and bumpers; sheetmetal body parts were unchanged. Being a small car factory, for economic reasons, Saab kept the basic undercarriage more or less unchanged throughout the 900's production run.
The Saab 900 could be ordered with different options. One highly sought-after option was called the Aero or Special Performance Group (SPG), as it was known in the U.S. The Aero/SPG incorporated (depending on the market and model year) a body skirt; a sport-suspension (1987+) that included shorter, stiffer springs, stiffer shocks, and swaybars; leather seats; premium stereo, and air conditioning. Each of these features could, of course, be ordered independently from Saab's Accessories Catalog for fitment to standard models. Power output varied by model year and market but models produced after 1985 were fitted with a 16-valve turbocharged engine.
The 1979 900 was available in three versions: The GL had the single-carb 99 hp/73.5 kW engine, the GLS had twin carburetors for 106 hp/79.5 kW, the EMS and GLE had fuel injection for 116 hp/87 kW, and the 900 Turbo produced 143 hp/107 kW. A five-speed transmission was introduced in the EMS and Turbo for 1980.
The 900 sedan was introduced in 1981 along with the phase-out of the old Saab B engine in favor of the lighter Saab H engine.
A big change for 1982 was the introduction of Saab's Automatic Performance Control (APC), a.k.a. boost controller. The APC employed a knock sensor, allowing the engine to use different grades of gasoline without engine damage. Another new feature that year was the introduction of central locking doors on the GLE and Turbo). Asbestos-free brakes were introduced in 1983, an industry first. A new model also appeared that year in Sweden - the GLi, which used the fuel injected engine.
1984 saw the introduction of the 16-valve DOHC B202 engine. With a turbocharger and intercooler, it could produce 175 hp/129 kW in the Turbo 16 model (less for catalyst-equipped engines). The Turbo 16 Aero had a body kit allowing the car to reach 210 km/h (130 mph). A different grille and 3-spoke steering wheel appeared across all models.
The dual-carb model (and "GL" nomenclature) was gone for 1985. Now, the base 900 had the single-carburetor engine, while the 900i added fuel injection. Two turbocharged models were offered: The 900 Turbo had the 8-valve engine, while the T16S had the 16-valve intercooled unit. The 8-valve turbo had the intercooler the next year, while the 16-valve cars had hydraulic engine mounts. 1986 also marked the introduction of the 900 convertible in North America.
A new grille, headlights, and so-called "integrated" bumpers freshened the 900's look for 1987, though the sheet metal was unchanged. Several common parts for the 900 and 9000 were introduced for 1988 model year, including brakes and wheel hubs. A water and oil cooled turbocharger (replacing the older oil-cooled unit) was also introduced to improve the unit's durability.
In each of the seasons 1987 and 1988, there was a special 'one-make' race series, in the UK, called the Saab Turbo Mobil Challenge, sponsored by Saab Great Britain and Mobil. It was run by the BARC.
The 8-valve engines were phased out in 1989 and 1990, with the turbo versions having been removed in North American markets by the end of 1984; North American 900S models received the non-turbo 16-valve engine for 1986. A non-turbo 16-valve engine replaced the 8-valve FI unit in the 900i (900S in North America) as well, while the carbureted engines were dropped. A low pressure turbo engine was available in European markets in 1990 as well. Anti-lock brakes were introduced on all models in 1990, and were standard on Turbo models and - along with a driver's side airbag - were standardized for all North American market cars.
A 2.1 L (2119 cc/129 in³) (B212) engine was introduced in 1991. This engine was available in the United States until the end of the original 900, but in most of Europe, this engine was replaced a year later with the earlier B202 because of tax regulations in some European countries for engines with a displacement of more than 2000 cc.
By 1990, the Saab 900 no longer offered the mesh wheels. There was also a change in the door locks, which carried over to the 900NG.
Front seats from the 9000 were standard from 1991 on and electronically-adjustable ones were available as an option.
"Classic" 900 production ended on September 26, 1993, with a new Opel Vectra-based 900 entering production shortly afterwards. The final classic convertibles were still sold as 1994 models, with the Special Edition commanding top dollar in the resale market even today.
In all, 908,817 Saab 900s were built, including 48,888 convertibles.
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