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:

GRAT CAR. CA$H ONLY. REALLY PURRS. NO CREDIT OKAY - HABLA ESPANOL

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.

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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.

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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.

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