Saab 900 Turbo 16

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One might think that the convertible is to Scandinavia what the M25 is to happy, carefree motoring. Why would Scandinavians want to produce an open can when they have to put up with such long and cold winters? The answer lies in America, for this model was specifically produced at the request of Saab-Scania USA. It was also to a specialist company in the United States that Saab turned for help with the design.

The American Sunroof Company (ASC) was already established as one of the country’s leading convertible specialists when it was approached by Saab in the winter of 1983-84. Using the Frankfurt Show concept convertible as a basis, the final result of its work was a soft-top version of the 900 Turbo. It was much more than the hard-top with just the roof sawn off, for 300 parts were unique to the convertible.

Rigidity is not bolstered by the addition of a roll-over bar behind the front scats, yet this is without doubt one of the most solid convertibles around. Chassis reinforcements include a stronger windscreen frame, and scuttle shake is almost nonexistant.

The hood folds completely away at the touch of a button and is protected by a cover; in this state the Saab is quite pretty. Unlike many other open cars the rear windows can also be fully lowered. Once the hood is up, the car becomes ungainly and the lines less fluent, not helped by the spoiler at the rear base of the hood, but protection from the elements is excellent.

Interior comfort is first-class, with the heating and ventilation particularly noteworthy. The front seats are very supportive and comfortable and the driving position good. Leather upholstery is fitted as standard and the machine has an opulent feel. What a pity then that it is a eunuch as far as performance is concerned.

If I had driven a manual instead of an automatic my impressions might have been different, but I felt I was driving a lazy American lump. This deficiency was more than made up for by lustrous handling, however. The steering might have been a little woolly and the brakes a little sensitive, but not enough to spoil my enjoyment. At £23,495 the Turbo 16 convertible is an expensive car, but has considerable luxury to weigh against its relative lethargy. WPK

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