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From Bargain Buy to Summer Joy: Martijn’s Saab 900 Convertible Restoration Story

Reviving the Classic: Martijn's Journey of Transforming a Bargain Saab 900 Cabriolet into a Timeless Youngtimer

The resilient Saab 900 Cabriolet, having clocked over 300,000 kilometers, stands as a testament to its enduring quality and remarkable journey.The resilient Saab 900 Cabriolet, having clocked over 300,000 kilometers, stands as a testament to its enduring quality and remarkable journey.

In the world of automotive enthusiasts, there’s a special joy in bringing an old, neglected car back to life. Martijn Stadman, a passionate car enthusiast from Ruinen, embarked on an extraordinary journey when he acquired a Saab 900ng Cabriolet for a mere 580 euros.

Despite its challenging condition and a history of multiple owners, Martijn saw potential in the car and set out to transform it into a pristine youngtimer. This article delves into Martijn’s inspiring restoration project, highlighting the challenges, triumphs, and the sheer joy of breathing new life into a classic automobile.

The Saab 900ng Convertible

A Diamond in the Rough: Martijn’s adventure began with the acquisition of a Saab 900 Cabriolet, a convertible beauty that had seen better days. Originally sold for a staggering 50,000 euros in 1995, this Saab had traveled a winding journey through Italy, Germany, and eventually found its way to the Netherlands.

Martijn recognized the potential in its solid bodywork, but was aware of the numerous technical issues plaguing the car, including engine problems, transmission woes, and a worn-out convertible hood.

Martijn’s Background and Motivation

Martijn’s passion for car restoration stemmed from an unexpected turn of events in his life. After a tragic accident left him unable to pursue a career in farming, he redirected his energy towards reviving automobiles.


Armed with a limited budget, a determined spirit, and a knack for problem-solving, Martijn had already transformed a Renault Laguna II into a reliable vehicle. This success gave him the confidence to take on the Saab 900 Cabriolet restoration project.

Martijn Stadman with his second Saab car
Martijn Stadman with his second Saab car

The Saab 90 and Martijn’s Love for the Brand

Martijn’s affinity for Saab grew stronger after he traded a bottle of port for a Saab 90 in 2016. Although it required extensive work, this experience deepened his appreciation for Saab’s premium craftsmanship, thoughtful engineering, and timeless design. Inspired by the challenge of restoring the Saab 90, he set his sights on the larger and more daunting task of bringing the 900 Cabriolet back to its former glory.

The Journey Begins: Unveiling the Challenges

Finding the neglected 1995 Saab 900 Cabriolet in Coevorden was just the first step. The initial assessment revealed a multitude of technical issues and a tired interior. Martijn took on the challenge with gusto, starting with refreshing the convertible hood and gradually delving into the car’s mechanical components.

Over the course of six years, he meticulously overhauled the entire engine, often relying on his resourcefulness and the assistance of experts like Wim Timmer from Saab Specials in Meppel.

Resourcefulness on a Limited Budget

With a modest budget, Martijn embarked on a scavenger hunt for original Saab parts. He scoured Saab scrapyards in the northern and eastern regions of the Netherlands, searching for affordable components. This relentless pursuit allowed him to acquire the necessary parts without compromising on the car’s authenticity. His commitment to using only the best-quality original Saab parts ensured the integrity of the restoration.

A Labor of Love: The Interior Upgrades

Martijn’s attention to detail extended beyond the mechanical aspects of the car. He undertook interior upgrades, meticulously refurbishing and merging three Saab radios into a single fully functional unit. The pursuit of perfection led him to seek out a compatible automatic gearbox, which he and his trusted “tech buddies” expertly installed. Every step of the restoration process was marked by Martijn’s dedication to preserving the car’s original charm.

Martijn's transformational journey: From a humble 580 euro purchase to a meticulously restored and stylish youngtimer, the Saab 900 Cabriolet showcases the power of passion and dedication.
Martijn’s transformational journey: From a humble 580 euro purchase to a meticulously restored and stylish youngtimer, the Saab 900 Cabriolet showcases the power of passion and dedication.

Overcoming Unexpected Obstacles

As with any restoration project, unexpected obstacles emerged along the way. Martijn encountered difficulties with the hood operation, only to discover that the wiring had been chewed by martens, causing a short circuit that disrupted the complex roof computer. Calibration and repairs were necessary to rectify the issue, demonstrating Martijn’s resilience and determination to overcome challenges.

The Cost of Restoration and Future Aspirations

While the initial purchase price was a mere 580 euros, Martijn invested approximately 8,500 euros in the restoration of his Saab 900 Cabriolet. However, for Martijn, the true value lies not in financial gain but in the sheer pleasure of transforming a neglected car into a beloved classic.

Martijn intends to enjoy his Saab for at least another fifteen years, cherishing the regal driving experience and relishing the satisfaction that comes from breathing new life into a piece of automotive history.

Martijn’s Saab Story

Martijn Stadman’s restoration journey with his Saab 900 Cabriolet exemplifies the passion, perseverance, and joy that can be found in bringing a classic car back to its former glory. From humble beginnings as a farmer turned car enthusiast, Martijn’s story is an inspiring testament to the power of determination, resourcefulness, and a love for automobiles. The Saab 900 Cabriolet, once a forgotten gem, has been revived to grace the roads once again, embodying the spirit of timeless design and the joy of driving a true youngtimer.

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