Saab 900 Turbo T16

The Saab’s re­turn makes Richard so happy that he, er, drives it into a field. All to do with art, ap­par­ently…

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - RICHARD GUNN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

It’s back! My Saab 900 Turbo T16 has fi­nally re­turned to the road af­ter six months away. A long list of prob­lems laid it low – in­clud­ing a blown man­i­fold gas­ket, a cor­roded, noisy ex­haust and (the real big­gie), a dis­trib­u­tor whose wiring had de­te­ri­o­rated so badly that the car was prac­ti­cally un­drive­able at any­thing over 30mph. A search for a re­place­ment Bosch dis­trib­u­tor turned up noth­ing, so in the end I had my old one re­built by Steve Lewis Saab (stevelewis­saab.com). Elling­worth’s Garage in Peter­bor­ough then fit­ted it, set the tim­ing and tight­ened up the man­i­fold/ex­haust union be­cause it had worked loose.

Af­ter such a long time with­out be­ing able to drive the Saab, it was an ab­so­lute joy to have it back again. The Panda’s a crack­ing lit­tle city car and the Volvo 940 es­tate has the load-lug­ging qual­i­ties of the Queen El­iz­a­beth – the Cu­nard liner that is, not our 91-year old monarch – but for per­for­mance, han­dling, looks and sheer Scan­dana­vian cool, noth­ing beats the tur­bocharged Saab. And re­con­nect­ing with its many su­pe­rior qual­i­ties on the fast drive home up the A1 was a fine re­minder of what I’d been miss­ing for the bet­ter part of half a year.

Not that there was a lot of time to en­joy driv­ing it. Six months out of use spent stand­ing around in the open had left the 900 look­ing pretty de­crepit. It needed a thor­ough clean, not least be­cause the night af­ter I got it back, it was due to take part in a pho­to­shoot for Pho­tog­ra­phy News. A rushed valet at least ti­died it up, but also re­vealed that rust is break­ing out in both front whee­larches again – some­thing else that will need sort­ing out sooner rather than later. The shoot was for a tu­to­rial on how to set up lights for night pho­tog­ra­phy – and be­cause an un­clut­tered but moody back­ground in the mid­dle of nowhere was needed, it in­volved driv­ing the suit­ably ti­died Saab into a field. Now, Saab 900s aren’t the most ob­vi­ous off-road­ers – that’s what Panda 4x4s are for, if you ask me – but the 900 coped pretty well with its cross­coun­try ex­cur­sion as a tem­po­rary trac­tor. And, with a light­ing rig set up around it, the af­ter-dark pic­tures shot by friend and ace snap­per Kings­ley Sin­gle­ton were im­pres­sive. It even man­aged to emerge from the field still look­ing clean, too.

Let’s off-road, Saab-style! The 900 in the mid­dle of a pho­to­shoot… in the mid­dle of a field.

Shiny re­fur­bished dis­trib­u­tor pos­i­tively glows in the Saab’s grimy en­gine bay.

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