1995 Saab 9000 Aero
I sold the 9000 on 11/6/2010. The 9000 had been an interesting car to own. When I bought it there were too many things broken or missing to list. The heater core, the brakes, motor mounts, no interior lighting, the list goes on. Still I recognized that the car had potential. Over the years I put in lots of work on the car, fixing all its issues, and I was very happy with the results. Still, there was the transmission reverse issue and the clutch grinding problem. Although I almost fixed these problems too, I realized that there was always going to be laundry list of things to fix on this car. Its not that it was not reliable. This last year I hardly did any work to it at all. No, the issue is that I hate driving a vehicle that has any problems. I perseverate on the issues and end up fixing them as soon as possible. The saab had its share of issues would continue to generate new ones always keeping me busy. I decided it was time to let it go.
I still have very fond memories of the car. There are a couple things this car did better than most so I could not help but make a list:
- Absolutely awesome seats, very comfortable and supportive
- Great looks, straight from mid 90's without looking too dated
- Great gas mileage, often up to 29 mpg. Great for a 15 year old car with space for 5 adults
- Love the space the hatchback provides. I think the full size 5 door sedan is the perfect body design
- Acceleration that swells up and kicks your butt. Once you hi 2500 rpm in 2nd, the tires break loose. I love it. It made the car feel crazy fast even though it was only mildly quick
- Distinctive car without being too european luxury cliche
Thanks 9000 for trips we had together.
It has been a couple years since the Contour went up in smoke and I replaced it with the Bronco. While the Bronco is a very capable vehicle and has served me well, I still did miss driving an enthusiastic stick shift that nimble yet comfortable on the road. I finally decided to take the plunge and buy another vehicle but on a budget, a very low budget. A search on Craigslist turned up a Saab 9000 Aero in my area so I went to go see it. It had been beat up and had numerous electrical problems but had lots of potential. Due to an extremely low price it also had a line of buyers waiting to get their hands on it and I didn't get it. The car left an impression on me though so I checked other internet sources for other Aeros near by.
There was an Aero listed on Ebay in Pennsylvania, a mere 100 miles away. You may not remember but I also went to PA for the Bronco. It seems all the cars I like are just over the border. Anyways Nikki and I made the 100 mile trip up there only to find a very beat up 1995 Saab Aero. I did only have 118k miles on it but the body and interior looked like it had twice that. The left rear door would not open as it had a huge dent in it, the leather interior was filthy, there were numerous electrical problems inside the car. The Ebay add was not a very good representation of the car. Well since we had driven all the way up there just to see this car we went ahead and took it for a test drive anyways.
I was surprised at how responsive the engine felt. The clutch didn't slip and the car was capable of roasting the tires from a roll on in first with no clutch work but just a tap of the accelerator. Hmm... perhaps this car deserves more attention! The more I looked at the car the more I could see the potential. It still drove just fine. Most of the broken stuff was auxiliary and could be repaired at my leisure. Both Nikki and I agreed the car was in desperate need of a thorough cleaning.
After everything was said and done, we bought the Saab for $2500. I would not say its a steal at that price given the number of stuff that needs replacement, but it definably is a whole lot of car for the money and it is exactly what I was looking for, a powerful car with a manual and decent fuel economy that is cheap (to buy at least).
Nikki and I got the car home and immediately started cleaning. We spent all day cleaning just the interior, and replacing burned out headlights, driving lights, and high beams. Once we finally had it clean we really took it for a spin. Surprisingly the seats are the most comfortable of any car I have been in. The have a lot of lateral support which I love. The car can easily seat 4 adults. The back seat has plenty of leg and head room and the trunk is enormous. This was certainly not a requirement for my car (given that I was also looking at 70's Corvettes) but is appreciated. The ride is actually very smooth. Perhaps too smooth. I would like a little more feedback on the steering wheel but all in all this is an excellent road car. The performance is top notch. It is easily the quickest (but the not the fastest) car I have owned. That turbo really kicks you in the pants when it gets going and the car makes it top torque at a surprisingly low 1950 rpms which makes passing easy. Overall I am blown away by this car. I just wish I had purchased one earlier.
That said the car does have its share of problems. Most notably, the electrical system seems to have been designed by monkeys. Perhaps I am being harsh but almost every electrical component in the car requires some sort of work. For example, the electronic door locks will lock about 70% of the time. The high beams work about 50% of the time. The interior lighting does not work at all even though the bulbs and fuses are good, etc. I think I am in for a lot of work to get this car back to its prime, but at least I can see the potential and I have a car that is easily worth the effort.
Saab'isms and Notable Features
I am familiar with many types of vehicles including Ford, Mazda, and Toyota. After spending a couple days with this 9000 Aero, I can tell you that Saab does some things differently. I would not call it better or worse, just different.
- (strange) The window and door lock controls are located in between the driver and front passenger seat.
- (strange) The manual transmission requires that a lock out ring be pulled up on the shifter before reverse can be engaged. You also pretty much have to shift to 5th before you can shift into reverse.
- (cool) This 1995 Saab comes with an advanced trip computer that tells you the time, short term mpg, long term mpg, distance to empty, count down distance to arrival (you initially type in how far you have to go), estimated time of arrival, speed required to arrive at the user specified time given the user specified distance, average speed, and outside temperature. No compass though.
- (cool) Automatic climate control on a 95, that's pretty sweet.
- (strange) Air conditioning is always on unless you press the "Economy" button which says nothing about air condition.
- (strange) You can switch the climate control to manual mode. You still have to enter a target temperature though and no matter how high you say you want the fan to be, nothing will come out until the heater can match your target temperature. This is more like an automatic climate control with a suggestion box.
- (cool) If the outside temperature is below freezing when you start up the car, the automatic climate control automatically turns on both front and rear defrosters.
- (cool) Turning on the rear defroster also activates defrosters on both side view mirrors.
- (strange) The keyless entry only has 2 buttons. You would assume one locks and the other unlocks. In reality one button opens the trunk, the second locks or unlocks the doors depending on the current state of the vehicle.
- (strange) The horn only works once the car has started.
- (cool) Drivers seat has position memory for 3 different people accessible at the push of a button.
- (cool) Factory radio has a tiny removable face plate. 70% of the radio stays, you remove the other 30% containing 6 buttons. I doubt at this point anyone would steal my tape deck though.
- (strange) Headlight switch has 3 modes. In modes one and two your headlights are always on as are your driving lights. If you hit your brights they just flash. There is no difference between these modes. In the third mode if you hit your brights they stay on. I though the previous owner mutilated the lighting circuit but the owners manual confirms this is how it is supposed to work.
- (cool) There are reverse lights integrated into the front turn signals so that you can see what is to your side when reversing.
- (strange) There is only one reverse light in the back of the car. There is a second identical but red light opposite the reverse light. I still have never seen this light come on. I have no idea what it does.
- (strange) There is a rear fog light. It even has its own little button on the dash to turn it on and off. I want to meet the person who needs a rear fog light and ask them why.
- (strange) No glove box.
1995 Saab 9000 Aero
Powered moon roof
Power locks (with key fob)
Power seats on both driver and passenger seat
Dual heated seats with 3 levels of heat
Automatic climate control including AC
AM/FM + Cassette + CD player
Advanced trip computer
Fuel economy: 21-29 mpg
Driver and passenger front air bags
4 wheel ABS brakes
No traction control (was an option in 95, this one does not have it)
Engine: Turbo charged 2.3L I4
Horsepower: 225 @ 5500 RPM
Torque: 258 @ 1950 RPM
Transmission: 5 speed manual
Curb weight: 3250 lbs
Work Done To Date
||Edmonds.com page that lists all the technical information about the Saab 9000 Aero
||MSN autos page with slightly different stats on the Saab 9000 Aero