1990s / Personal car / Saab / Swedish

Back In Black: Project Saab Lives!

Slaab_RWP_rear_trunkIt’s been a while since this author has written for Ran When Parked. For that, I apologize, and it’s not that I have forgotten you, dear readers! One thing I have accomplished in the hiatus, is the completion of Project Saab, now known as “The Slaab” with some affection. I believe I last mentioned this particular ’93 Turbo back in January of this year when I wrote about my experiences as a Saab owner. At that time, this car was still neglectfully sitting under a tarp in my back yard. Today, however, I am proud to report, its alive!

After selling my VW Golf and purchasing my ’79 BMW this spring, I realized that the Saab was going to have to be roadworthy again soon as Pennsylvania winters are not well suited to vintage rear-wheel-drive cars. My rough old Saab 900, on the other hand, is perfect for a winter beater. Now I do realize, some Saab fans out there will be reading this and tearing up at the thought of an “OG 900” being relegated to mere “beater” duty. In defense, I will say that prior to hacking this old heap of Swedish sheet-metal back together, it was about ready to be totally parted out. The body was a mess, but ultimately a strong engine and clean interior led me to keep it around.

Slaab_RWP_dashMy goal for this project was to put as absolutely close to zero money into it as possible while still being safe and road legal. The totally rusted out front fenders were cut off and replaced with some eBay sourced corrosion free examples costing $40. The sweaty, flaky, and plugged original radiator was replaced with a bargain brand-new unit for $75. The brake rotors were badly rusted from sitting in disuse for 4 years so they were all replaced for about $130. Surprisingly (or not, depending on your knowledge of Saabs) the busted headlights proved to be the most difficult and expensive item (save for new tires). Again, eBay came to the rescue here. Both left and right lights with brackets cost roughly $95 a piece. One front shock absorber bushing had rotted away, but a set of two were sourced for $10. On its maiden voyage, the alternator belt let go. Another $9.

Slaab_RWP_SideNow, you’re probably wondering, “wasn’t that car red before?” Yes – yes it was. This Saab 900 left Sweden late in 1992 painted in a dashing “Imola Red.” Years of baking in the sun, rust repairs and accident repairs had eventually left the car in a couple different shades of red with silver front fenders and speckled with assorted patches of Bondo yellow. I have worked professionally as a mechanic for many years, but I’ll come right out and admit I’m not big on body work. I’ve never painted a car before, and I never had any aspirations of being any good at it. Figuring that a gloss-free finish would hide a lot, I went and got myself 3 quarts of Rustoleum and a gallon of mineral spirits for roughly $55. I waited for a calm warm summer day, and in my back yard with my Harbor Freight spray gun and an old Craftsman air compressor dating to the Cold War, I gave the Saab four coats of thinned-out flat black. Some like the stealth-bomber / rat rod look, others simply think it looks trashy. Regardless, it is what it is and it’s one color now.

So far, “The Slaab” has only seen snow once this season, but being a Saab, it’s more than ready. Since getting the car registered and inspected about a month ago, I’ve covered just over 1000 trouble free miles. Currently the odometer is nearing 183,000. Saab Automobile AB may be dead, but the world got one old Saab-Scania back this year.

2 thoughts on “Back In Black: Project Saab Lives!

  1. Very cool. I was in Pick-n-Pull (Edmonton Alberta) today and saw they have a Saab for sale as a “fixer” and immediately thought of you. Glad to hear the backyard painting went well, last time I did one it was in Vancouver B.C and was with household latex and an airless sprayer, would have been ok had I done it in the morning, the heavy dew set on it as soon as the sun went down and it ran (when parked, I might add) good thing it was “only” a first Gen. Sonata GLS V6 Still want another of those sleepers, best radio I have ever had in a car.

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