In 1978, Swedish car manufacturer Saab introduced the Saab 900. The vehicle was then referred to by the company as “the culmination of the most ambitious development ever undertaken.” For two decades, the Saab 900 had two generations until its final release in 1998. It had won multiple awards and recognitions from different countries like the Import Car of the Year for 1993/94 from Japan’s Automotive Researchers and Journalists Conference and the 1994 Design of the Year from Automobile magazine in USA.
1978 – 1993: The Classic generation
The Saab 900 was developed with similar features of its predecessor, the Saab 99. Both models had a distinguished style unlike any car at that time. One unusual design was the engine that’s installed backwards. Another is the transaxle transmission that was bolted to the bottom of the engine which also formed the oil pan. Available in GL, GLS, EMS/ GLE and Turbo trims lines, the 1979 Saab 900 had four different engine types. First, the GL had a 99-horsepower, single-carburetor engine. The next trim line, the GLS, had a twin-carburetor, 106-horspower engine. The EMS/ GLE trim lines had the same fuel-injection, 116-horsepower engine. And the last one, the Saab 900 Turbo, had a 143-horsepower engine.
In 1982, Saab introduced the Automatic Performance Control (APC) which has a knock sensor that allowed the car’s engine to use different kinds of gasoline without damaging the engine. This was followed by the 16-valve DOHC B202 engine with a turbocharger and intercooler that was released for Saab 900 models in Europe in 1984. Shortly a year after, two upgraded models were released, the 8-valve and 16-valve engines for the Saab 900 Turbo. In the early 90s, a 2.1L engine was made available for the US market.
1994 – 1998: The New generation
Built from the platform of the Opel Vectra, the second generation of the Saab 900 received numerous improvements. The variants of the vehicle were 900i, S and SE. While the engine for all the variants had standard four cylinders, only the SE had a turbo or V6. A significant and innovative future that came with Turbo models was the “Sensonic” clutch variant. It was designed with the same manual gear lever, but the clutch pedal was omitted because a computer controlled the clutch actuator. The black panel feature, that was available for the S and SE models, was also an innovation that was designed with a button that switched off most panel lights on the dashboard. This was inspired by the aeronautics roots of the Swedish car manufacturer. While the speedometer remained illuminated, the other instruments were automatically dimmed to eliminate distraction during night driving. They would only automatically light up when the car reaches the 84 mph mark.