Saab still exists, but their bankruptcy dealt the company and its loyal customers a huge blow and they may never be the same again. Now, Saab's history is divided into three phases: pre-GM, GM, and post-GM. This is one of their pre-GM cars.
The 9000 was a great car for Saab and it came at just the right time. They had been garnering praise from critics and consumers alike for their sporty, practical and yes, that annoying word always used when describing Saab - quirky - 900 series cars. Sure, they were front-wheel drive and only utilized 4-cylinders but they were extremely well built and fun to drive. So, while things still looked up, Trollhattan made a natural move: launch a new, bigger car, not to replace, but to compliment the 900.
The styling was a joint effort by two geniuses: Bjorn Envall and Giorgetto Giugiaro. Together, they created a shape that was modern, simple, likable and still uniquely Saab. COTC particularly likes the pre-1991 facelift models which are true to the original vision of the designers. This one looks exceptionally cool in black with BBS-style crosspoke rims, and flush fog lamps.
The mechanicals weren't entirely unique, however. The platform was shared among several European automakers and was also used for the Alfa Romeo 164 and Lancia Thema. Still, that's not bad company. It turned out fine, and it fit the car's character perfectly. The 9000 did everything the 900 did, but better. It was larger, wider, and roomier. It handled well and was a smooth, refined cruiser. It was also a sales success.
The 9000 was available in a bunch of trims and engines. One interesting addition was the "CD" in 1988 which hacked away the versatile hatchback and replaced it with a conventional trunk. Sure, it may be counter-intuitive, but the body took the new shape really well, looking very adult and business-like, and the rarity of the model alone makes it noteworthy. And, the classy grey felt-lined trunk is STILL enormous. Angular, defined trunk decks are disappearing today in favor of fastbacks.
Inside, occupants are treated to one of the best interiors of all time by any manufacturer. Saab's experience in building airplanes translated into clear, ergonomic, driver-oriented gauges and dashboards. Information glows green, needles are orange and only emergency lights are yellow or red. It also helped those seats were damn comfortable.
For power, this 9000 has a water-cooled, turbocharged, double overhead camshaft, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder engine good for a healthy 175 horsepower. Later cars were either downgraded with a non-turbo engine or upgraded with a V6, but we like the original turbo 4 for its blend of thrift and speed.
The seller of this example says it's just a two-owner vehicle with 154k miles. That's nothing on these. Most that have been regularly used since new have over 500k by now. These were built for the long haul, provided they didn't rust first or have the faulty automatic transmissions, which this mercifully doesn't.
This really deserves a good home. The brand has been irreversibly altered, and the older pre-GM models are slowly getting their due, if there any are left at all. Still, you know the ones that already departed most likely did their service honorably.
Available here on craigslist for $2,950.