This Tuned Saab 900 SPG is One Speedy Swede
In years past, if you wanted a quick, comfortable, and unique (bordering on odd at times) alternative to German performance…Saab could accommodate. A generation of fans grew up at the altar of the 99 Turbo, and Saab kept its spirit alive with zesty turbocharged versions of the first-gen 900 through the early ‘90s. The top of that turbo pile? The sleek 900 SPG. Denoting its performance bend, these 1985 to 1991 “Special Performance Group” cars fashioned calling card low-drag body modifications, stylish three-spoke alloy wheels, and ushered in a literal boost in horsepower. This blacked-out 900 is one of those 7,000-plus SPGs to land on U.S. shores during that period, but it’s surely a tad rowdier than most. RELATED: Check Out Saab's Amazing, Last Concept Car
First, a bit of history. The Saab 900 SPG was born in 1984 as a concept, known as the Turbo 16 Aero, which wore the aforementioned aero-tuned body kit and three-spoke wheels. What it also packed was a turbocharged, twin-cam, intercooled version of Saab’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which pumped power to 160 hp initially, and a heroic 175 hp by 1990. Tweaks to Saab’s Automatic Performance Control (APC) system aided turbo behavior, and if let loose, these cars could dash from zero to 60 mph in just over eight seconds, clocking top speeds of 130 mph.
Combined with a lower-slung suspension (’87 and on), these SPGs could handle themselves well, and received high marks in their day. And this customized ’88 SPG evolves the breed further still.
According to the owner, it packs an updated APC unit, newer Garrett turbocharger, and water injection, which complement higher performance camshafts, the head from a 2.3 Saab 9000 and higher-flow intake from a 2.1 900 S. Power goes unmentioned, but thanks to a modified 900 S gearbox, the car can allegedly best 160 mph at the top end. Not what you’d call slow.
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On visuals alone, it certainly looks quick. The racy Saab dons a flat graphite gray paint scheme with a nod to Sweden’s flag on the carbon fiber hood, and punches out laterally with larger fender flares. Underneath, the SPG leverages adjustable competition shocks, which explains the menacingly low appearance, and rides on 18-inch blacked-out alloy wheels. Inside, things get racier still with Recaro buckets, aluminum door inserts and dash, and a Momo steering wheel.
As far as tunable ‘80s European performance cars go, BMW might as well own the segment. There seems to be a modified 3-series on every corner these days, and that’s fine. But the hi-po 900 SPG is a rarer breed still, and it’s good to see the ‘ol Swedes in fighting fit shape.
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