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…
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.