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Owner Review

1978 Saab 99 review

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I can trace my desire to owning a Saab back to when my father purchased a red Saab 99 GL 3-door brand new back in 1977. My father chose this car because he was impressed with its safety and engineering, so much so that this car served our family for the next 13 years. In that time I grew to love its unique sound and style, not knowing until later how unique this brand was compared with others.

Time passed by and I always wanted a car like my father's, but upon learning that the ultimate 99 was the turbo model I knew I had to have one. I read all the reviews I could and when the time came to buy one I jumped at the chance.

I was really surprised at the cars rolling acceleration (it's still impressive today), and whilst many of its features were similar to our old car, the turbo really elevated the car into a different category. There is a period video on YouTube which shows how the car compares to some period rivals, and the difference in off-the-mark versus rolling acceleration.

Initial acceleration is slow before the turbo chimes in, and along with manual steering, the car can be tiresome to drive and park if you aren't in the mood. This is a car that you do have to "drive" but it's still great fun and unique even compared with other Saab models.

Handling is quite good considering its age, as Bilstein shocks were fitted as standard, along with firmer springs compared to a regular 99. With discs all-round braking isn't too bad either.

Since owning my first 99 Turbo I have owned another five, along with many other Saab models. The latest example I own has a unique history as it was subject to a rebuild way back in 1994 by a local Saab Specialist.

As well as a bare metal respray the car was retrofitted with a 5-speed gearbox from a later model 900 turbo in place of the 4 speed. It also has a modern water injection kit fitted allowing more turbo boost than standard. Water injection was actually a period dealer fit accessory that was available for the 99 and early 900 turbo's.

I've always liked the appearance of the American market cars so have since had the dealer fit side decals, and fitted many NOS parts over the years.

Doing preventative as well as routine maintenance has ensured the car stays reliable, though many cosmetic parts unique to the 99 are becoming harder to obtain.

Jeremy Clarkson also did a good review on Top Gear of the 99 Turbo and Saab in general, and it's great to see interest has markedly increased over the years, with this model featured in classic car magazines and online reviews around the world. People forget this car was one of the first Turbo Pioneers.

Sadly there are very few 99 Turbo's left road registered here in Australia, so hopefully more surface in the coming years. Mine certainly will be with me for a very long time.

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