It was all about sacrifice when I decided to forgo my cushy 2013 Volkswagen GTI with heated seats, blue tooth, and a manufacturer's warranty. Driving a new car isn't very satisfying; it's not as interesting as something that creaks, rattles, and sputters on occasion.

That's why I just bought a 1993 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible...for $1,900.

My criterion was simple: find an interesting car locally that I could purchase with cash, drive daily, and show up to cars and coffee and not look like a putz. The Saab checks all of these boxes, plus the top retracts โ€” with power! All for less than $2k.

It's not all rosy though. The car was listed on Craigslist and when I went to view the car, it was obvious that it had needs: paint is questionable on nearly all panels (less the passenger door, which was resprayed sometime over the last 7 years), the lower brake lights were in-op, the brakes felt a bit needy, and there was a wretched belt squeal.

But for less than $2k, I couldn't find another car on Craigslist that didn't have a listing that read:


Searching for a good Saab specialist, I rolled the dice with the number I found on a maintenance reminder on the top left of the wind shield โ€” it read 133,000 miles, the 900 had 147,000 when I got her.


Turns out that the shop owner, Eric Patterson of Patterson Performance, performed the Pre-Delivery Inspection when the car was new โ€” it was obvious I was in the right place.

Eric provided a post-purchase inspection report with a list of 9 or so things that needed replaced โ€” I had him triage the needs (which in total was a modest $1,500), and I got the first tier plus the permanent brake light fix (these cars have a notorious design flaw concerning the lower brake lights).

$675 got me back on the road with solid brakes, lights, new control arm bushings, and no more horrific belt squeal.


Considering Saabs are notoriously peculiar and often expensive to own โ€” I'm pretty satisfied with the quirky swede. Enjoy some photos from the first sunny weekend in Raleigh since the purchase.