Unexceptional Classics

Unexceptional Classifieds: Saab 900 GLS

by Antony Ingram
26 April 2024 2 min read
Unexceptional Classifieds: Saab 900 GLS
Photos courtesy Car & Classic

Price: £10,995
Mileage: 98,200
Condition: Ready to drive to its homeland
Advert: Car & Classic

There are probably people out there who don’t “get” Saabs. Maybe they like their classics rear-wheel drive, or they simply aren’t enamoured by the quirky styling. Perhaps they simply prefer cars from other countries, or maybe their Swedish car of choice is from that other manufacturer.

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But I suspect you’d struggle to find anyone who actually hates Saabs. There was once an assumption that the people who bought Saabs were likeable, respectable, intelligent people – architects were the popular profession associated with the cars, geography teachers another – but that wouldn’t have been the case were the cars not likeable, respectable, and intelligent too.

Saabs, perhaps like Hondas and Mazdas, like older Audis and Mercedes, and like even older Citroëns and Lancias, have an engineering-first air about them, as if decisions were made not for the sake of it but because doing something might genuinely improve the experience of whomever was buying them, be that in terms of comfort, safety, or driveability.

It would have been fascinating to see how a modern-day Saab might have handled the current trend for distracting touchscreen-based controls. Surely the company that used to give you a ‘black panel’ switch to kill all the instrument lighting save the speedometer, or fitted separate, big buttons for front and rear foglights rather than a fiddly switch on a column stalk, wouldn’t bury vital functions within layers of touchscreen menus?

You can get a taste of this sensible application of ergonomics in this month’s Unexceptional Classified, a beautifully pale 1981 Saab 900 GLS, for sale in London via Car & Classic.

Just drink it all in: that yellow colour and shape a hangover from the 1970s (the 900 debuted in 1978), the burnt orange upholstery, the padded safety steering wheel, and just the impressive condition of it all. As an earlier 900, this one’s already an unusual sight – most you see these days tend to be later Turbo 16s, it seems, and invariably in black – but a car like this twin-carb, three-speed automatic model would no doubt have been more familiar at the time.

1981 Saab rear 3/4

As a 1981 car, this one is now also old enough to avoid the ULEZ charge in London, so it’d make a fine city-based classic, while it also gets zero-rate VED and is MOT exempt – though this being a Saab, the current owner has put a ticket on it anyway, as ignoring annual safety checks wouldn’t seem like a very Saab thing to do.

The seller writes that it’s had plenty of recent maintenance too, which goes a way to justifying the asking price, which at £10,995 is higher than we’d tend to feature in this spot and a fair distance above the Condition #1 value in the Hagerty Price Guide. But with so few like this about, there’s definitely some wiggle room in values, particularly for such a usable car and one that should, with regular maintenance, go on nearly indefinitely. Dependability, of course, is another very likeable quality that Saabs have in abundance.

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