Saab Classic 900 Model Year Changes
Model Year 1979
Revealed in May 1978 and in production and on sale by the Autumn as the 1979 model year, the 900 was based on the 99 although forward of the A-pillars it was an entirely new body.
Safety is a priority of Saab. Perhaps the priority. The 900 featured a new, ergonomically designed curved instrument panel that put all controls into logical groupings and within easy reach of the driver. The steering column was telescopically collapsible with deformable steel bellows. In the event of a collision, the steering wheel is drawn away from the driver to minimise the risk of chest and head injuries.
For comfort a new heating and ventilation system and, another Saab industry first, a pollen filter to protect the occupants.
For performance the 900 was a three or five door hatchback (Combi Coupé) in the following specifications: GL with 100hp single carb engine, GLS with 108hp twin-carb set up, the fuel injected EMS delivering 118hp same as the GLE and the flagship 900 Turbo with 145hp turbocharged two-litre in-line slant four.
Model Year 1980
For interior comfort and safety the 900 was fitted with a new type of seat with vertically adjustable head-restraint. External changes were dual tail lamps and a new grille. A five-speed gearbox was optional on the EMS and turbo.
Model Year 1981
A new model year saw a new four door 900 saloon. Originally shown at the Spring 1980 Geneva Motor Show, the 900 saloon (or Sedan) went on sale as the 1981 model.
Interior changes were new rear seats, electric windows on some models, a larger fuel tank and a larger boot with the spare now stowed under the floor. Externally, the 900 acquired larger side mouldings.
A lighter and more powerful H engine proved to be more economical and now powered all 900s. The GLE was now offered only in four-door with model designations in the United States becoming just 900 for the base model and 900S for the EMS.
Model Year 1982
The Saab innovation of 1982 was APC – Automatic Performance Control – on the 900 turbo. Available initially only on the Scandinavian markets it was soon made a available to the United States and other markes.
APC enabled the engine to detect knocking tendencies and automatically adjust the charge pressure to raise the compression. In effect, this permitted the engine to be run on different grades of fuel.
Central locking became a new feature for the GLE and turbo models and the wide-angle rear view mirror was made available to all. However, whether it was fitted or not was dependent on legal requirements in different markets.
Model Year 1983
If the pulling power of Saabs was good, then the stopping power was now enhanced with asbestos-free brakes – yet another industry first for Saab.
The specification list was further improved with a tachometer with economy markings on five-speed cars. Rear fog lamps and a de luxe equipment package with electrically operated sunroof and leather was an optional extra on the turbo.
During the year a five door 900 GLi with a fuel injected 118hp engine was released in Sweden.
Model Year 1984
Saabs’s innovation for 1984 was a new 16-valve engine with four valves per cylinder and domed compression chambers with the spark plug mounted centrally at the top, double overhead camshafts and hydraulic valve lifters. With an intercooler this engine generated 175hp.
The 1984 model was recognisable by a new silver-grey grille with slightly rounded corners and the EMS, GLE and turbo sported a new three-spoke steering wheel.
Previewed at the Geneva Motorshow of Spring 1983, the Saab 900 Turbo 16 appeared as a four door saloon and a three or five door hatchback. A special extra de luxe model, the 900 T16S Aero was available on certain markets in only black or silver. Delivering 175hp it could reach 210kph.
Model Year 1985
New model designations were complemented by the new Saab-Scania logo on the bonnet. The 900 became the base model: 100hp from a carburretor engine. The 900i had a fuel injected engine generating 118hp. The 900 turbo had 145hp and the 900T16S was 175hp.
All Saabs now carried the new logo on the bonnet, on the bootlid and in the centre of the steering wheel. Four door turbos got a new rear boot spoiler and all turbos got a chrome grille.
Model Year 1986
An intercooler (charge-air cooler) was now fitted to eight-valve turbos increasing power to 155hp. Hydraulic engine mounts were now fitted to 16-valve engines. A new, enhanced interior featured a rear seat central armrest and the main extaernally visible change was the introduction of side indicator repeaters towards the rear of the front wings.
Model Year 1987
The major styling change was the new sloping nose with a new front grille, new headlamps and revised bumpers font and rear with integrated spoiler on the front bumper.
The 900 Convertible went on sale in all existing markets with a 175hp engine. Interestingly, the first 400 convertibles were flat front 1986 models. All were sold in the US.
A catalytic converter was now fitted to the exhaust system as standard for most markets including Sweden. The United States had them since 1976.
Model Year 1988
The turbo unit in the 900 was now water-cooled, for the first time, to ensure greater operational reliability and longer life expectancy. A new braking system with vented discs at the front. The handbrake now acted upon the rear wheels.
New wheel hubs with bolts, same as the 9000 where introduced. External changes were matt black window strips, handles, decor plate and tinted windows on the 900i.
Model Year 1989
The eight valve turbo engine was phased out during the 1989 model year, all turbos acquired the 16-valve engine. The same 16-valve unit, less the turbo, powered the 900i delivering 126hp or 130hp depending on whether a catalytic coverter was fitted or not. The carburettor engine was also phased out.
Another safety innovationç the high-level third brakelight was mandatory for all US models and was fitted as standard on models in other markets where it was not prohibited. ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) brakes became standard on the turbo and was available as an option on other models.
Model Year 1990
All models, regardless of turbo-charged or plain fuel-injected, were now propelled by the 16-valve engine. Saab introduced another first – the light pressure turbo, or LPT, delivering 145hp. The LPT represented a sensible balance between performance and fuel economy. The LPT powered 900 was now badged the 900s.
The fuel tank capacity was increased from 63 to 68 litres and only one rear foglight was fitted so as to avoid confusion with the brakelights.
Model Year 1991
On certain markets, some 900 models were now fitted with a 2.1 litre (2,119cc) fuel-injected engine developing 140hp. For comfort, a new electrostatic compartment air filter was fitted.
The 900 now had the same front seats as the 9000 with the option of an electrically-adjustable drivers seat.
Model Year 1992
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) was now standard on Nordic, US and European markets. The 2.1 litre introduced in the previous model year now became an option in Nordic markets. The 900s (light-pressure turbo) was fitted with alloy wheels as standard.
The 900 convertible got a new spoiler that extended forward along the doors and was also available in Monte Carlo yellow.
Model Year 1993
1993 was the last model year of the Saab that has since become known as the classic 900. The last 900 rolled off the production line on 26 March 1993 – an Imola Red 900 Aero which was driven straight to the Saab Museum in Trollhättan.
In all 908,817 Saab 900s were built over the course of some 15 years, of which 48,888 were convertibles.