The Saab 900 Turbo Handled Like a Champ

In 1985, the Saab 900 Turbo was the safest and most fun front-wheel drive car on the American market.

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YouTubeMotorweek

The 1979 Saab 900 Turbo was the first mainstream turbocharged car, featuring a double wishbone suspension at the front and a beam axle design with a Panhard rod at the rear. But the Swedish aviation experts didn't stop there, upgrading the 2.0-liter engine with electronic boost control not long after.

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Here's how Saab explained the technology to Australians in the 1984 Melbourne Motor Show Magazine:

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FlickrSaab via aussiefordadverts

Getting rid of engine knocking was great for sure, but for 1985, Saab had another trick up its sleeve: A new 16-valve head for their turbocharged DOHC. Peak output was raised to 160 horsepower, paired with 188 lb.-ft. of torque, making overtaking maneuvers much easier. Once the performance version known as Aero landed in America (wearing an SPG badge), sway bars became standard as well.

Driving the standard 16V, Motorweek found that the slippery Scottish leather upholstery was somehow compensated by a fast-moving sunroof. The 900 scored excellent for handling as well, as long as you got optioned the Pirelli P6 tires instead of Michelin's hard all-seasons. Power, safety and with that hatchback body, loads of practicality—that was the Saab 900 Turbo's offer in the mid-eighties. And it still is—so long as you can put the effort into maintaining one.

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