Just a short post to set the record straight on SPGs and whether I, personally, actually ever owned one. I didn’t. It wasn’t my fault! (Read on).
After studying the recent spread on the 900 SPG in Hemmings Sports and Exotic Cars, I had to face the fact that Saab stopped making SPGs in 1991. Since I owned a 1993, that caused me to think. (I’m at least bright enough to figure that out!)
I owned a 1993 Saab 900 3-door which was specially equipped for performance. “Factory tuned” to make 10 more hp than any SPG ever made. It had the same (or similar) suspension modifications. It had the factory SPG body kit installed. It was black. It possessed some of the best leather that money could buy.
But, alas, it wasn’t an actual SPG, and I’ve always assumed that it was.
In my defense, in those days you really only could get information on the differences between model years from a few reliable sources. Even if you had the information in hand, you likely had to collate and compare manually and account for the undocumented exceptions on top of that. So as ludicrous as it may sound now, even a Saab enthusiast wouldn’t know the exact model year changes on a long-running automobile such as the 900 without a lot of effort.
What exactly did I own? It appears that it was a 1993 900 Commemorative Edition. From the Saabce.com site (with thanks to PGAero for pointing me in this direction):
The 900 Commemorative Edition Turbo Coupe was offered in the US market in the spring of 1993. This model was only available as a three-door turbo with a manual transmission. It had a 185 Hp engine which made it the highest performing 900 ever. The extra horsepower was achieved through the modified “red box” APC, a 2.8bar fuel pressure regulator, and a special distributor with enhanced vacuum advance. It also offered an improved suspension. You could get it in any color you wanted; as long as that color was black with tan interior. At the time, it was considered the quintessential Saab 900 Turbo. Only a limited number were produced (literature states 325 but it appears only about 314 were actually built). All included leather interior, a burled walnut instrument panel facia (the first Saab 900 to get this treatment), a leather gear knob and boot, and special directional alloy wheels with polished outer lips and metallic gray centers.
Each 1993 Commemorative Edition came with a special 3.5″x 1.5″ engraved brass plaque to be mounted on the floor console in front of the shifter. The plaques showed each car’s specific number in the series (xx of 325). The plaques were not mounted on the cars when they were built and may not reflect the cars actual build number. The plaques came in the owner’s packet for each car and were to be installed by the dealer or by the owner. They were mounted with double-face tape and often came off, or perhaps were never installed, so some CE’s may not have their original plaque.
This fits my car’s description exactly. That silly little plaque was an eyesore that I removed almost as soon as I bought the thing. It was affixed to the glove box door on my car. Cheesy. It was as if Saab USA had contracted with Things Remembered or a local sports trophy shop to make a few thin little stick-on markers with the standard serif font. As stated above, they simply used double-sided tape to stick the plate to the car. Again, cheesy.
When I bought the car from TRA Saab, our local Saab dealer in Knoxville, Tennessee (I lived there at the time), it was two years old and already had the SPG body panels installed. In fact, it is quite possible that they were installed on the car when new, either by the dealer (TRA also sold the car when it was new) or by Saab USA. Either way, it would have been an undocumented upgrade. As an interesting bit of trivia, TRA Saab may have been the smallest Saab dealer in existence at the time. I have no way of knowing 100% whether that’s true, but it was small. The owner, Gary Wagner (I cannot believe that I remember his name), was also the only salesperson! There was one Saab mechanic and only two other employees for a total of four people working at the dealership. They sold out to the local Cadillac dealer in an odd bit of foreshadowing only a couple of years later.
So, here’s the “tale of the tape” as they say. 1991 900 SPG v. 1993 900 CE:
1991 900 SPG: 175 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 195 ft-lbs. @ 3000 rpm
1993 900 CE: 185 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 201 ft-lbs. @ 2800 rpm
1991 900 SPG: Gas-filled shocks with shorter, stiffer springs. Lowered two inches.
1993 900 CE: Gas-filled shocks with shorter, stiffer springs. Lowered two inches.
1991 900 SPG: Sway bars front and rear.
1993 900 CE: Sway bars front and rear.
1991 900 SPG: Silver SPG/Aero three-spoke wheels.
1993 900 CE: Metallic grey/silver directional three-spoke wheels.
The bottom line: I owned a great Saab 900. It wasn’t an actual SPG, but it was darn close. I wish like heck that I still had it.