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Motoring: Saab 900 Turbo - 1978

In a world that is dominated by blandness and mediocrity, you can almost have your cake and eat it when it comes to the Saab 900 Turbo. Forgive it for its faults and love it for its brilliance and you'll be laughing. Its looks are an acquired taste, but once acquired rarely forgotten. I still marvel at them when I see one out on the road. I am talking about the three-door model. It also came as a 2/4 saloon or 5 doors, but all of these models are flawed in their looks. I saw it once described as looking like it had been designed by a committee, but actually its design was incredibly function-led. Saab completely rethought many of the car's design elements, taking little for granted. It is a testament to its forward looking design that when you see one on the road, while it looks dated, it doesn't look as if it was first launched in the 1970s. The first model hit the street in 1978.

As the state aircraft manufacturer in Sweden, Saab tried to incorporate many aircraft design principles in the car. The dash on a new Saab has barely changed from the first 900's ergonomic design that was to allow the driver to see and dial or operate any switch with the minimum of fuss.

The wraparound windscreen that seems like a 70mm movie screen gives a superb view forward and the seats are joy to sit in, even for hours on end. Apparently, lots of osteopaths drive them. Finding the ignition is tricky though as the key lock is next to the handbrake. This is an integrated lock system for safety and security. It is difficult for a thief to access, and the you cannot remove the key without putting the gear lever in reverse - an additional security feature as well as being a handbrake failsafe.

The boot is huge, flat and firm. Saab's is legendary and you can see why when you pull the door shut. The car is very heavy and solid. Fire up the engine and you are rewarded with a distinctive deep but warm sound. The 900 turbo model came in three variants: the 8 valve (145/155 bhp), the 16 valve (175 bhp) and the 16 valve model which had the same power but had uprated suspension and plastic skirting. It is the classic collectors model and is the most desirable, especially with leather seats. S models and all later Saabs had ABS brakes.

It is not as zippy around town as one would expect, but as a touring 'A to B' car it is second to none. At highway speeds, lag is non-existent and it is easy and fun to move about and fit nicely into gaps with no fuss. Even at high speed, the car can overtake with ease, keeping up with the majority of sports or high performance cars being made today. It feels very stable and the clunk of its heavy doors attest to it being very solidly built.

A true Classic, the Saab 900 was manufactured from 1979 until 1993, and remains to this day a very popular car with many thousands having been sold around the world. Over the 14 years of its production the classic Saab 900 was sold in many variations, including 3 and 5 door hatchbacks, 2 and 4 door saloons, convertible and of course with a Turbo charger.

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