Before BaT: 1978 Saab 99 Turbo – Sold?

by | Jul 2021 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

July 25, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this Malaise Era Saab 99 Turbo “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” We’ll be keeping an eye out to see whether the seller posts a new Craigslist ad or in fact, the car actually makes it on BringaTrailer.

While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

A growing yet disturbing trend we’re finding in some Craigslist ads are sellers writing, “Buy it on here before I list it on Bring a Trailer.” Our latest example is this 1978 Saab 99 Turbo currently originally listed on Craigslist in July 2021 in South Burlington, Vermont for $16,000. currently. Comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the private seller has their Saab priced between this guide’s #2 “Excellent” estimate of $14,300 and its #1 “Concours” appraisal of $28,400.  Interestingly, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool provides a slightly different assessment as in this case the asking price is one thousand dollars above this guide’s #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $15,000.

Saab produced their iconic 99 series from 1968 through 1984 and was the Swedish company’s first foray into the compact executive car class.  While Saab built most 99’s in Saab’s own Trollhättan manufacturing plant, some variants were built by the Finnish Valmet Automotive. Porsche enthusiasts might recognize that name as being the manufacturer of many 986 Boxsters.
Although Saab engineers liked the company’s existing two-stroke engine, increasing emissions regulations meant a four-stroke engine was necessary. Engineers decided to use a 1.7 Liter slant-four engine supplied by, wait for it, Triumph! While this engine was the same one used in the Triumph Dolomite sedan, Saab engineers fitted it with a Zenith-Stromberg CD carburetor developed specifically for Saab and an electric cooling fan. Fun fact: a number of Saab 99s were equipped with the notoriously bad V8 from the Triumph Stag, but the V8 was later dropped in favor of a turbocharged unit which later powered the 99 Turbo.  In a shocking development, the Triumph Slant four proved to be unreliable, so by 1972 Saab developed and launched its in-house 2.0 Liter “B” engine.

The Saab 99 was front-wheel-drive, its engine being fitted in a reverse longitudinal position similar to other pre-transverse engine designs which oriented the clutch and output shaft towards the front to place the weight of the engine behind the gearbox to avoid nose heaviness. Drive to the under-mounted gearbox was by triplex chain. Front-wheel-drive was still a relatively uncommon configuration at the time of the 99’s introduction, although traditional in Saabs.

Another innovation by Saab was the use of a front-hinged and the panel extended over the front wheel arches. Designers gave the car a very deep wrap-around windshield.  Due to the American sealed beam headlamp requirement in place at the time, the USA models had a special front fascia with four round headlights instead of the two rectangular units it had in other markets. The “US front” then became an item for car customizers in Europe, and vice versa.

The owner of a similar-looking 1978 Saab 99 Turbo provides this great point-of-view (“POV”) of what it’s like to drive one of these cars:

The seller initially listed their Saab in late June and subsequently updated their ad just five days ago.  Knowing that Bring-A-Trailer’s average turn-around to list a car is now six weeks(!), we have a feeling this seller that despite how nice and unique his 99 Saab is, BaT quickly rejected his car. However, given the site’s long lead time, we’re not surprised to see people trying to sell their car before it does hit their site. Besides that nuance, the fact the seller reports being a Saab technician and several pictures clearly show several parts cars in the distant background, it’s a safe assumption this 99 Turbo is a well-sorted piece.

We will keep an eye out in the next few weeks to confirm whether this car does in fact make it to Bring a Trailer and if it does, how it ends up performing at auction. 

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Saab enthusiasts will know how special this car is. Owned, built, and cared for by a career Saab Tech, this example is as solid and turn-key as you will find.
-5 speed
-Very stock and original in appearance.
-No rust or rot whatsoever
-Paint and panels all A+
-Interior is in excellent condition. Seats are not worn, no tears. Dash is not split.
-Various tweaks and tuning make this car a go-cart on steroids.
-OEM Saab intercooler installed.
-OEM 900 suspension with Bilstein and sway bars (inch wider stance).
-Turbo boosts up quickly and 100%.
-Full tune, brake job, clutch serviced, and full detail June ‘21.
-Comes with parts car if desired.​

Show or go: what would you do with this Survivor Saab?  Comment below and let us know!


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