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SAAB 900 SPG – BORN FROM JETS

People keep asking me to show my other rides, my daily, projects and  other cars I have or had in my garage. Going to start today with my Saab 900 SPG. Actually, it’s the second Saab 900 Turbo I bought, but anyway. A lovely car with a special place in automotive history – not only because that car is born from jets!

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THE TURBOCHARGED SAAB IS A PIECE OF AUTOMOTIVE HISTORY

Many car afficionados or connoisseurs, if you live in the french-speaking part of Canada, identify Saab not only with the place of the ignition switch, the clamshell hood or the blackout instrument feature, but the hottest component: the turbocharger.

Oh yes, there were other turbocharged engines before the one of the much praised Saab 99 Turbo. In fact, big engines, for trucks and marine applications for example were turbocharged decades earlier. And the Oldsmobile Jetfire and some other Chevy were the first passenger cars that had a turbo in it. That was in the early 60s and in the early 70s, it was Porsche who made the turbo glamorous and ready for everyday street use.

FIRST TURBOCHARGED PRODUCTION CAR

But why is Saab considered the first turbocharged production car and even the pioneer of turbocharged cars? Well, they made the technology feasible for everyday use with modern wastegates and their APC technology. Back in the day, Saab wasn’t able to develop new years every year due to low sales numbers, instead, they developed a new engine to keep up with the competition. The engineers at Saab realized the potential of the turbo, offering performance with a smaller engine instead of developing a bigger engine. Saab came up with a number of useful features for the turbo, not only the wastegate, that controls the pressure but also the APC, a system that lowers the boost under load in order to prevent ignition knock and of course, last but not least, the electronic fuel injection paired with the turbocharger.

FROM 1978 TO 1993

The first turbocharged Saab 99 came out with the 1978 model year. Many changes have been made along the way, but the DNA remained intact. Four cylinder engine, backwards installed and at an angle, transmission underneath. Meanwhile 16 valves with two overhead camshafts instead of 8 valves with just one cameshaft. Slightly more pressure, more horsepower and a more or less troublefree engine.

This example here is a 1990 Saab 900 SPG or Aero or 16S, depending where you are located in the world. In the US, General Motors had the rights to use the word Aero for automotive products, therefore Saab decided to name their top model SPG, Special Performance Group and if I remember correctly, Turbo 16S in the UK for some sort of the same reason as in the US.

You like my number plate? More Gs – you really feel them the moment the Turbo kicks in.

It is a blast to drive, it’s got a performance increase by the factory, called the red box – instead of 160HP it produces 185HP, tested with app 200.000mls on the clock, 179HP at the wheels. Pretty happy with that. Of course, you see signs of wear from the years and of course the mileage but still, it’s a lot of fun to drive! BORN FROM JETS!

SAAB STEERING WHEEL

You’re probably wondering if I kept the original steering wheel. Yes, kept it, but not inside the car. First thing I did when I got it was to install a Momo hub and a steering wheel. Which one? Well, first I installed the Momo Saab steering wheel, a dedicated wheel Momo produced for Saab but changed it a few days later. Now I am pretty happy with my Momo Rally 2000 suede steering wheel.

Momo Saab 370mm Steering Wheel

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