It's been 3 months since I purchased my 1993 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible and, at the risk of spontaneous combustion, it has been a solid purchase.
If you don't remember, I was driving a 2013 Volkswagen GTI until I decided I wanted a lighter wallet, more headaches, and a bit of intrigue in my daily commute — something the GTI just wasn't doing for me. So, I sold the leased VW to Carmax (Thanks Doug!) and began trolling Craigslist.
I found the classic 900 'vert in Durham, NC offered by a private owner and we agreed on a price of $1,900. Or <1 bitcoin.
The car had some immediate needs which included the common lower brake light fix, belt replacement, and control arm bushings. Thanks to my local specialist, I have been able to triage the car's needs to keep my budget from capsizing — I have spent just short of $1,400 in maintenance and repair since the purchase.
So, what has gone wrong? One word: cooling.
The 900 cooling system is notoriously fickle and on the chilliest morning of the year (a crisp 6 degrees in NC), the car overheated on my 22 mile journey to work.
This incident proved just the beginning and I have since replaced the coolant reservoir tank, flushed the system, and replaced the temperature gauge. Shortly after the flush, the reservoir tank began leaking due to hairline cracking of the brittle plastic — all in all, a cheap fix comparably speaking.
As our friends over at Car Buying and APiDA Online always recommend, I have since changed all the Saab's fluids, which has resulted in smoother transmission shifts and piece of mind. The latter continues to pay dividends.
A basic post-purchase once over is not only a good idea, it's a necessity. Previous owners, especially shade-tree mechanics who may not know the ins and outs of a particular model, may overlook common issues or chalk-things up to: it's just old and cheap.
For instance, I was told the 900's A/C was in-op. Low and behold, it works! Add it to the list of quirks, but the 900 only distributes cool air to the center and defrost vents — something the PO was unaware of and mistakenly assumed the A/C was a goner.
All things considered, I remain pretty happy with the purchase and the future looks bright for the Saab. I'm thinking of keeping it around for a while because cheap transportation shouldn't be this much fun.