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The Saab 9000 Turbo: A Deep Dive

by Frank
saab 9000 turbo

The Iconic Saab 9000 Turbo: A Deep Dive into its History, Performance, and Legacy

The Saab 9000 Turbo is an iconic car that has captured the hearts of automotive enthusiasts worldwide. This Swedish masterpiece combines a unique blend of performance, practicality, and innovation, making it a beloved classic in the car community. In this detailed blog post, we will explore the history of the Saab 9000 Turbo, its design and engineering, its participation in motorsports, and its lasting legacy. So, buckle up, and let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating world of the Saab 9000 Turbo.

Saab 9000: A Swedish Classic

The History of Saab 9000 Turbo

The Birth of Saab Automobiles

Saab as an Aircraft Manufacturer

Saab, short for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (Swedish Aeroplane Company), was originally an aircraft manufacturer established in 1937 to meet the needs of the Swedish Air Force. The company’s first airplane, the Saab 17, was an innovative design that set the stage for its future success in the aviation industry. Over the years, Saab has continued to produce a wide range of aircraft, including fighter jets, bombers, and reconnaissance planes.

Transition to Automobile Production

After World War II, Saab saw an opportunity to expand its operations into the automobile market. In 1945, the company began developing its first car, the Saab 92, which was unveiled in 1947. The 92 featured an aerodynamic design inspired by Saab’s aircraft heritage, along with a two-stroke engine and front-wheel drive – a rarity at the time. This combination of innovation and practicality would become a hallmark of Saab cars throughout the years.

The Saab 9000 series

The Development And Launch of the 9000 Series

In the early 1980s, Saab sought to expand its product lineup with a larger, more upscale car. The company partnered with Fiat to develop a new platform, known as the Type Four, which would underpin both Saab’s new model and several Fiat, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo models. The result was the Saab 9000, which debuted in 1984.

The 9000 was Saab’s first foray into the executive car segment and was designed to compete with vehicles like the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The car’s spacious interior, advanced safety features, and distinctive styling helped it stand out from the competition, quickly garnering a loyal following.

Collaboration With Fiat

Saab’s partnership with Fiat was instrumental in the development of the 9000 series. The two automakers collaborated on various aspects of the car, including platform sharing, engine development, and manufacturing. This collaboration allowed Saab to leverage Fiat’s resources and expertise while maintaining its unique identity and character.

The Saab 9000 Turbo: A game-changer

Introduction of the Turbocharged Engine

The Saab 9000 Turbo was introduced in 1985, just a year after the launch of the base 9000 model. The Turbo featured a 2.0-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine equipped with a Garrett turbocharger, producing 160 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. This marked a significant performance upgrade over the naturally aspirated version and catapulted the Saab 9000 Turbo into the realm of sports sedans.

Market reception and Impact

The Saab 9000 Turbo was met with rave reviews from both critics and consumers alike. Its combination of performance, luxury, and practicality made it a compelling option in the executive car segment. Additionally, the Turbo’s advanced technology and innovative engineering helped solidify Saab’s reputation as a forward-thinking automaker. Sales of the 9000 Turbo grew steadily throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with the car becoming a popular choice among driving enthusiasts seeking a unique and versatile vehicle.

Design and Engineering: What Makes the Saab 9000 Turbo Unique

Exterior Design

Aerodynamic Design

The Saab 9000 Turbo’s exterior design was heavily influenced by the company’s aircraft heritage. The car’s sleek and aerodynamic shape was designed to minimize air resistance, improving both performance and fuel efficiency. The 9000 Turbo’s low drag coefficient of 0.32 was among the best in its class at the time, highlighting Saab’s commitment to efficiency and innovation.

Hatchback Style

Another distinctive feature of the Saab 9000 Turbo was its five-door hatchback body style. While hatchbacks were relatively uncommon in the executive car segment, the 9000 Turbo’s practical design allowed for greater cargo capacity and versatility compared to traditional sedans. The hatchback design also contributed to the car’s unique look, setting it apart from the competition.

Interior Features

Spaciousness and Comfort

Inside, the Saab 9000 Turbo offered a level of spaciousness and comfort that was uncommon in its class. The car’s large cabin provided ample headroom and legroom for passengers, while the supportive seats ensured a comfortable ride on long journeys. The 9000 Turbo’s interior also featured high-quality materials and craftsmanship, giving it a premium feel that rivaled its more expensive competitors.

Ergonomics and Attention to Detail

Saab’s focus on ergonomics and driver-centric design was evident in the 9000 Turbo’s interior layout. The cockpit featured a logically arranged dashboard with easy-to-read gauges and intuitive controls. The car’s various buttons and switches were designed to be easily accessible and operable while driving, ensuring minimal distractions on the road. This attention to detail helped create an enjoyable and engaging driving experience for 9000 Turbo owners.

Performance and Handling

Turbocharged Engine

The heart of the Saab 9000 Turbo was its potent 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. This powerplant was a technological marvel for its time, featuring cutting-edge advancements such as an intercooler, electronic fuel injection, and Saab’s revolutionary Trionic engine management system. These innovations helped the 9000 Turbo deliver impressive performance figures, with the car capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds and reaching a top speed of around 140 mph.

Unique Suspension Setup

The Saab 9000 Turbo’s handling was another area where the car excelled. The 9000 featured a unique suspension design, with double wishbones at the front and a semi-independent beam axle at the rear. This setup provided excellent road-holding and cornering capabilities, allowing the car to navigate twisty roads with ease.

Trionic Engine Management system

The Trionic engine management system was a groundbreaking innovation developed by Saab for the 9000 Turbo. This advanced system combined engine control, ignition control, and turbocharging control into a single unit, allowing for more precise and efficient engine operation. The Trionic system played a significant role in the 9000 Turbo’s impressive performance and helped set the stage for the advanced engine management systems found in modern cars.

The Saab 9000 Turbo in Motorsports

Rally Racing

Saab’s Rally History

Saab has a rich history in rally racing, dating back to the company’s earliest days in the automobile industry. The company’s first rally car, the Saab 92, proved to be a formidable competitor in the 1950s and 1960s, scoring numerous victories in both national and international events. Throughout the years, Saab continued to participate in rallying with various models, including the Saab 96, Saab 99, and the Saab 900.

The Saab 9000 Turbo’s Rally Achievements

The Saab 9000 Turbo was no exception when it came to rally racing. Though not as prolific as some of its predecessors, the 9000 Turbo still made its mark in the world of motorsports. The car’s powerful engine, advanced suspension, and rugged build made it a competitive choice for rally teams. The 9000 Turbo saw success in various regional and national rally events, showcasing its capabilities and performance in demanding conditions.

Endurance Racing

Saab 9000 Turbo’s Participation in Endurance Races

In addition to rally racing, the Saab 9000 Turbo also participated in endurance racing events. These races, which typically lasted for several hours or even days, tested the durability and reliability of competing vehicles. The 9000 Turbo’s robust construction and reliable performance made it a strong contender in these grueling events.

Impressive Results and Milestones

The Saab 9000 Turbo achieved several notable results in endurance racing, including class victories and impressive overall finishes. These successes served to further demonstrate the car’s performance capabilities and build its reputation as a formidable competitor on the track.

The Legacy of the Saab 9000 Turbo

Lasting Influence on the Automotive Industry

Turbocharging and Engine Management Technology

The Saab 9000 Turbo’s innovative use of turbocharging and advanced engine management systems had a significant impact on the automotive industry. The car’s groundbreaking Trionic system paved the way for future advancements in engine control technology, with many modern cars now utilizing similar systems for improved performance and efficiency. Additionally, the 9000 Turbo’s success helped popularize turbocharging among mainstream car manufacturers, leading to a widespread adoption of this technology.

Safety and Environmental Innovations

Saab has always been known for its focus on safety and environmental responsibility, and the 9000 Turbo was no exception. The car featured numerous safety innovations, including advanced crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, and passive safety features such as headrests designed to minimize whiplash injuries. The 9000 Turbo was also one of the first cars to use CFC-free air conditioning systems, reflecting Saab’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

The Saab 9000 Turbo as a Collector’s Item

Popularity Among Car Enthusiasts

The Saab 9000 Turbo has become a sought-after collector’s item among car enthusiasts, thanks to its unique blend of performance, practicality, and innovative design. The car’s rarity, particularly in well-preserved condition, has made it a prized possession for Saab fans and classic car collectors alike.

Tips for Buying and Maintaining a Saab 9000 Turbo

If you’re interested in purchasing a Saab 9000 Turbo, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, try to find a well-maintained example with a documented service history, as this can help ensure the car’s long-term reliability. Additionally, be prepared to invest in regular maintenance and repairs, as parts for the 9000 Turbo can sometimes be difficult to source.

The End of an Era: Saab’s Demise and its Impact on the 9000 Turbo

Reasons Behind Saab’s Bankruptcy

Sadly, Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy in 2011, following years of financial struggles and dwindling sales. The company’s demise was a result of several factors, including a declining global economy, increased competition, and a series of ownership changes that ultimately led to an unsustainable business model.

The Future of Saab 9000 Turbo Ownership and Maintenance

Despite the end of Saab as an automaker, the Saab 9000 Turbo’s legacy lives on through its dedicated fan base and the continued availability of parts and service through independent Saab specialists. Many Saab enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to ensure the continued preservation and maintenance of these unique vehicles, sharing knowledge and resources through online forums and social media groups.

Additionally, some aftermarket companies have stepped in to provide replacement parts and support for Saab vehicles, including the 9000 Turbo. This has helped to alleviate some of the challenges associated with owning and maintaining a car from a defunct manufacturer, ensuring that the Saab 9000 Turbo’s legacy can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of automotive enthusiasts.


In conclusion, the Saab 9000 Turbo remains an iconic and beloved classic in the automotive world. Its innovative design, performance, and groundbreaking technology set it apart from other cars of its era and continue to inspire admiration among car enthusiasts. The 9000 Turbo’s rich history, participation in motorsports, and lasting influence on the automotive industry serve as a testament to Saab’s ingenuity and vision.

Though Saab may no longer be in existence, the 9000 Turbo’s enduring appeal ensures that its memory will live on for years to come. For those who appreciate the unique character and engineering prowess of the Saab 9000 Turbo, the car remains a cherished piece of automotive history and a symbol of what can be achieved when innovation and passion collide.

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