Saab History

Saab 900NG: The First Thirty Years

The success of the Talladega Challenge helped to establish Saab's reputation for reliability and durability and contributed to the popularity of the Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe in the US market.The success of the Talladega Challenge helped to establish Saab's reputation for reliability and durability and contributed to the popularity of the Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe in the US market.

It has been 30 years since the Saab 900 NG was introduced to the world, and it remains one of the most iconic vehicles ever produced by the Swedish automaker.

The 900NG, which stands for “new generation,” was built on General Motors’ GM2900 platform as a successor to the classic first-generation Saab 900. While it received a lukewarm reception upon its release, the Saab 900NG has since become a cult classic beloved by car enthusiasts worldwide.

The Saab 900NG, or “New Generation”, was born out of the unlikely partnership between General Motors and the struggling Swedish automaker Saab in the 1990s. The 900NG was designed to be the successor to the Saab 900, and while GM had intended for the car to be based on the Opel Vectra platform, Saab’s engineers had other ideas. The resulting car was a unique blend of GM’s platform and Saab’s engineering, with a focus on quality and innovation that would define the brand for years to come.

Released in 1994, the Saab 900NG was met with mixed reviews. While it featured many of the distinctive design elements that had become hallmarks of the Saab brand – including a sloping hood, prominent front bumper, and a hatchback design – the car failed to make much of an impact with consumers. However, the car’s interior was typically Saab, featuring a unique ignition key that was inserted between the seats and a dashboard inspired by aviation design, with a Black Panel (Night panel) control that only displayed the speedometer.

Design and Styling

The Saab 900NG inherited many of the design elements that made the Saab 900 so iconic. It had a long, sloping hood, prominent front bumpers, and a hatchback rear that gave it a distinct look. However, the 900NG also had a more modern, streamlined look that set it apart from its predecessor.


Saab 900NG

The interior of the Saab 900NG was typically Saab, with a dashboard that was directly inspired by aviation. The Black Panel feature, which only kept the speedometer illuminated, was a nod to Saab’s aviation heritage. Additionally, the ignition key was located between the front seats, adding to the unique character of the car.

Variants and Trim Levels

One of the major selling points of the Saab 900NG was its versatility. The car was available in a range of body styles, including a three-door, five-door, and convertible, and was offered with a choice of three trim levels – the 900i (a four-cylinder non-turbo), the S (a four-cylinder non-turbo in the US, and sometimes turbocharged in other markets), and the SE (available with a four-cylinder turbo or V6 engine). The SE also featured an automatic climate control system, leather interiors, wood-trimmed dashboards, and 16-inch wheels.

The perfectly preserved interior of the Saab 900NG convertible with real wooden inserts in the dashboard gives the impression of luxury
The perfectly preserved interior of the Saab 900NG convertible with real wooden inserts in the dashboard gives the impression of luxury

The SE models were typically better equipped, with features such as automatic climate control, leather interiors, wood-trimmed dashboards, and 16″ wheels. In contrast, the S models had a more basic level of equipment. However, there was a significant amount of variation in the trim levels depending on the market, so it’s worth doing research on the specific model you’re interested in.

Engine and Performance

The Saab 900NG was available with a choice of 2.0 L or 2.3 L Saab 16-valve DOHC engines (Saab engine codes B204 and B234) in naturally aspirated or turbocharged form (2.0 L only), as well as a 2.5 L version of GM’s European 54° V6 engine. The engine management for the turbocharged engines was handled by Saab’s Trionic 5 with Direct Ignition (SDI) and Automatic Performance Control (APC) systems, while non-turbocharged engines used Bosch Motronic fuel injection. In some markets, naturally aspirated engines were equipped with a distributor-operated ignition system.

Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe Talladega Challenge '1997
Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe Talladega Challenge ‘1997

In terms of performance, the Saab 900NG was capable of impressive acceleration and handling. The turbocharged models could achieve 0-60 mph in under 10 seconds, while the V6 engine provided even more power and torque.

One major departure from the previous Saab 900 was the transverse engine layout, which replaced the previous longitudinal layout. The hood of the car was hinged at the rear, further emphasizing the car’s unique design. The convertible variant was produced in Finland at the Valmet plant and was introduced in 1995. The convertible was available in both S and SE trim levels.

Legacy and Value

The Saab 900NG has become a cult classic among car enthusiasts due to its unique design, excellent performance, and quirky character. While it was not initially well-received upon its release, the 900NG has since gained a loyal following and is now a sought-after classic car.

As with any classic car, the value of the Saab 900NG varies depending on factors such as condition, mileage, and rarity. However, it is still possible to find well-maintained examples for reasonable prices. While some Saab enthusiasts may prefer the classic first-generation 900, the 900NG is still a worthy successor and a classic car worth rediscovering.

Despite its unique design and innovative features, the Saab 900NG failed to make a significant impact in the market. The car was ultimately succeeded by the Saab 9-3 in 1998, but not before it had sold nearly 280,000 units worldwide. Today, the Saab 900NG can be found for less than €2,000, making it an affordable and interesting option for enthusiasts looking for a classic car with a unique design and innovative features.

The Saab 900NG was an important car for Saab, marking a new era for the company and representing a unique blend of GM’s platform and Saab’s engineering expertise. While the car was not a commercial success, it remains an interesting and innovative option for car enthusiasts looking for a classic car with a unique design and features that were ahead of their time.

Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe Talladega Challenge ‘1997

The Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe Talladega Challenge was a special edition model produced by Saab in 1997 to commemorate the brand’s record-breaking speed run at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, USA.

The Talladega Challenge was a high-speed endurance test carried out by Saab in 1996 at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, USA. The goal of the challenge was to demonstrate the durability and reliability of Saab’s new generation of turbocharged engines, which were used in the Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe.

The Talladega Superspeedway is a 2.66-mile (4.28 km) oval track with steep banking that allows for high speeds. Saab engineers modified a standard 900 SE Turbo Coupe for the challenge, including increasing the turbocharger boost pressure and adding an intercooler to produce more power. They also reinforced the chassis and suspension and added a roll cage for safety.

The car was based on the standard Saab 900 SE Turbo Coupe but featured a number of upgrades to enhance its performance and aesthetics. It was equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that produced 185 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

The exterior of the car was finished in black with contrasting silver accents, including the unique 16-inch alloy wheels, grille, and side mirrors. It also featured a special “Talladega” badge on the trunk lid and a limited edition plaque on the dashboard.

Inside, the car had black leather seats with silver piping, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a premium sound system. It also had a number of performance-oriented features, including upgraded brakes, suspension, and exhaust.

Only 150 Talladega Challenge models were produced, making them a rare and highly sought-after collector’s item. Despite being over 20 years old, well-maintained examples can still fetch a premium price in the used car market.

Leave a Reply