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Saab 9000: A Swedish Classic

by Frank
saab 9000

Saab 9000: A Comprehensive Look at the Swedish Classic

When it comes to classic cars, the Saab 9000 holds a unique place in the hearts of many enthusiasts. With its distinctive design, innovative features, and undeniable Swedish charm, the Saab 9000 continues to captivate and inspire car lovers around the world. In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at the Saab 9000, its history, performance, and enduring legacy. So, buckle up as we explore the fascinating world of this Swedish classic.

The Saab 900 SPG: A Swedish Classic

Saab 9000: A Brief History

A. The Birth of The Saab 9000

The Saab 9000 was born during the Saab-Scania era, a period when the Swedish carmaker was part of the larger Saab-Scania group. The development of the Saab 9000 began in the late 1970s as the company sought to expand its product lineup with a larger, more upscale model to compete with European luxury brands. At the core of the Saab 9000’s design was the Type Four platform, a versatile chassis co-developed with Italian automaker Fiat. This platform was also shared with the Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma, and Lancia Thema, but each brand applied its unique design language and engineering expertise to create distinct models.

B. The Evolution of the Saab 9000

Introduced in 1984, the Saab 9000 made an immediate impact with its distinctive hatchback design and cutting-edge technology. Over the years, the 9000 underwent several updates and improvements, both in terms of design and engineering. Notable model years include 1988, when the 9000 CD sedan was introduced; 1991, with the debut of the high-performance 9000 Aero; and 1994, when the 9000 received a comprehensive facelift.

C. End of Production and Legacy

After a successful 13-year production run, the Saab 9000 was discontinued in 1997. Factors contributing to its discontinuation included the shift in Saab’s strategic direction towards smaller, more fuel-efficient models, as well as the end of the Saab-Scania era. Despite its relatively short production run, the Saab 9000 left a lasting impact on the automotive industry and the Saab brand, both in terms of design and technology.

Design and Innovation

A. Exterior Design Elements

The Saab 9000’s exterior design embodies the Scandinavian design principles of simplicity, functionality, and elegance. Designed by renowned Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the 9000’s clean lines and aerodynamic shape not only create a visually appealing silhouette but also contribute to the car’s efficiency and performance.

B. Interior Design and Comfort

Step inside a Saab 9000, and you’ll immediately notice the car’s focus on ergonomics and driver-centric design. The dashboard is angled towards the driver, putting all controls and instruments within easy reach. High-quality materials and comfortable seats make for a pleasant driving experience, while features such as automatic climate control, power windows, and a premium sound system further enhance the cabin’s appeal.

C. Safety Innovations

Saab has always been at the forefront of automotive safety, and the 9000 was no exception. The Saab 9000 introduced the Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) system, a groundbreaking technology designed to reduce whiplash injuries in rear-end collisions. Other notable safety features include anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, and advanced crumple zones.

Performance and Specifications

A. Engine Options

Throughout its production run, the Saab 9000 was offered with a diverse selection of engines that catered to different performance needs and preferences. These engines ranged from naturally aspirated inline-four units to more powerful turbocharged variants, delivering a wide spectrum of performance characteristics.

The Saab 9000 Turbo: A Deep Dive


One of the most popular engines found in the Saab 9000 was the 2.0-liter B202 turbocharged inline-four engine, which produced 160 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque in its initial configuration. This engine featured a 16-valve DOHC design and an intercooled Garrett T25 turbocharger, which ensured smooth power delivery and a broad torque curve. Paired with a manual or automatic transmission, the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine propelled the Saab 9000 from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 8 seconds, with a top speed of around 130 mph.


In 1991, Saab introduced the B234 engine, a larger 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four unit that offered even greater performance. In the 9000 CS and CD models, this engine produced 200 horsepower and 238 lb-ft of torque, while the high-performance 9000 Aero boasted an impressive output of 225 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. The B234 engine also featured a 16-valve DOHC design and an intercooled Mitsubishi TD04 turbocharger, delivering a strong and consistent powerband. With this engine under the hood, the Saab 9000 Aero could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds and achieve a top speed of 150 mph.

B202/B234 NA

Apart from the turbocharged variants, the Saab 9000 was also available with naturally aspirated engines. The B202 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four produced 130 horsepower and 134 lb-ft of torque, while the B234 2.3-liter naturally aspirated inline-four generated 150 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Although these engines lacked the punch of their turbocharged counterparts, they still provided a smooth and refined driving experience that was typical of Saab vehicles.


Throughout its life, the Saab 9000 received various engine updates and improvements that enhanced performance, fuel efficiency, and emissions. These updates included the introduction of Trionic engine management systems, which combined ignition, fuel injection, and turbo boost control into a single, integrated system. The result was a more efficient and responsive engine that delivered a truly exhilarating driving experience for Saab 9000 owners.

B. Transmission Options

The Saab 9000 was available with a choice of manual and automatic transmissions, catering to the preferences of various drivers. Both transmission options were designed to complement the performance characteristics of the 9000’s engine lineup, ensuring an enjoyable driving experience.


Manual transmission enthusiasts, including our writer who owned two Saab 9000 turbos with manual gearboxes, often favored the precise shifting and engaging driving dynamics offered by this option. The Saab 9000 was equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, which provided a direct connection between the driver and the car. The well-spaced gear ratios allowed for smooth acceleration and easy cruising at highway speeds. Additionally, the manual gearbox featured a short-throw shifter, which enabled quick and accurate gear changes, further enhancing the sporty character of the 9000.


For those who preferred a more relaxed driving experience, the Saab 9000 was also available with an automatic transmission. Early models featured a 3-speed or 4-speed automatic transmission, depending on the engine configuration, while later models were equipped with a more advanced 4-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift logic. The adaptive shift logic technology optimized gear changes based on the driver’s input and driving conditions, ensuring smooth and responsive shifts. The automatic transmission also featured a “Sport” mode that held gears longer and downshifted more aggressively, providing a more engaging driving experience when desired.


Regardless of the chosen transmission, the Saab 9000’s drivetrain was designed to work in harmony with its engines, suspension, and chassis, delivering a well-balanced and enjoyable driving experience. The combination of precise manual gearboxes and smooth, adaptive automatic transmissions made the Saab 9000 an appealing choice for a wide range of drivers, from enthusiasts seeking a sporty, engaging ride to those who prioritized comfort and convenience.

C. Suspension and Handling

The Saab 9000’s advanced suspension system played a critical role in delivering the comfortable ride and exceptional handling characteristics for which the car was renowned. Designed with both comfort and sportiness in mind, the suspension system employed a combination of sophisticated components and carefully tuned settings to achieve the perfect balance between the two.


At the front of the 9000, MacPherson struts were utilized, a common choice for many European cars due to their compact design and excellent handling capabilities. These struts featured coil springs and gas-charged shock absorbers, which contributed to the car’s responsive steering and stable cornering performance. Additionally, the use of an anti-roll bar helped to minimize body roll during cornering, further enhancing the 9000’s handling dynamics.


At the rear, the Saab 9000 employed a semi-trailing arm suspension setup, which consisted of longitudinally mounted control arms, coil springs, and gas-charged shock absorbers. This design provided excellent wheel control and stability, allowing the car to maintain its composure over a wide range of driving conditions. The rear suspension also featured an anti-roll bar, ensuring consistent handling balance between the front and rear of the car.


To deliver a comfortable ride, the Saab 9000’s suspension components were carefully tuned to absorb road imperfections without compromising handling performance. This tuning was achieved through the selection of specific spring rates, shock absorber valving, and bushing materials, all of which were optimized to provide a refined and compliant ride.

As a result of its sophisticated suspension system and carefully calibrated settings, the Saab 9000 offered a refined yet engaging driving experience that could easily rival its European competitors. The car’s ability to strike the perfect balance between comfort and sportiness made it a standout choice for drivers seeking a versatile and enjoyable vehicle, and it remains an enduring testament to Saab’s engineering prowess.

Special Editions and Trims

A. Saab 9000 Aero

Introduced in 1991, the Saab 9000 Aero was the performance-oriented variant of the 9000 range. It featured a host of upgrades, including a more powerful 2.3-liter turbocharged engine, stiffer suspension, and larger brakes. Visually, the Aero stood out with its unique body kit, larger alloy wheels, and special badging. The Aero’s performance and handling capabilities earned it a dedicated following among Saab enthusiasts and cemented its place as a true Swedish performance sedan.

B. Saab 9000 CD and CD Griffin

The Saab 9000 CD, introduced in 1988, was a more luxurious and elegant version of the 9000, featuring a traditional sedan body style instead of the hatchback design. The CD Griffin was an even more upscale version, offering additional luxury features such as leather upholstery, wood trim, and a high-quality sound system. Both the CD and CD Griffin were well-received by the market, as they catered to those who sought a more refined and sophisticated Saab 9000 experience.

C. Other Limited-Edition Models

Throughout its production run, the Saab 9000 was offered in various limited-edition trims and packages. These unique models often featured special color schemes, upgraded interiors, and exclusive badging, making them highly sought-after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The Saab 9000 Today: Enthusiasts and the Aftermarket

A. The Saab 9000 Community

Even though the Saab 9000 is no longer in production, it continues to enjoy a dedicated following among car enthusiasts. Online forums like The Saab Network and social media groups dedicated to the Saab 9000 serve as platforms for owners and fans to share their experiences, offer advice, and discuss their passion for this Swedish classic. Additionally, local and regional enthusiast clubs organize events and meetups, allowing Saab 9000 owners to connect and celebrate their shared love for this iconic car.

B. Maintaining and Restoring the Saab 9000

As with any classic car, maintaining and restoring a Saab 9000 can be a labor of love. Common maintenance issues include wear and tear on suspension components, electrical gremlins, and the occasional turbocharger replacement. However, with a wealth of resources available online and a dedicated community of enthusiasts, finding parts and expert advice has become easier over the years.

C. The Aftermarket and Tuning Scene

The Saab 9000 has also found a home in the aftermarket and tuning scene. Popular modifications and upgrades include performance-enhancing engine software, upgraded suspension components, and high-performance exhaust systems. These modifications not only improve the Saab 9000’s performance but also allow owners to further personalize their vehicles to suit their preferences and driving styles.


In conclusion, the Saab 9000 remains an important part of automotive history and continues to captivate enthusiasts around the world. With its unique design, innovative features, and Swedish charm, the Saab 9000 has truly earned its place as a classic. From its inception during the Saab-Scania era to its enduring legacy in the hearts of car enthusiasts, the Saab 9000 has left an indelible mark on the automotive landscape.

We hope this comprehensive look at the Saab 9000 has provided you with valuable insights into its history, performance, and the passion that continues to surround it. Let us continue celebrating the unique and enduring appeal of this Swedish classic.

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