REVscene - Vancouver Automotive Forum


Welcome to the REVscene Automotive Forum forums.

Registration is Free!You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today! The banners on the left side and below do not show for registered users!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact contact us.


Go Back   REVscene Automotive Forum > Automotive Chat > Vancouver Auto Chat

Vancouver Auto Chat 2016 VAC Community Head Moderator: Raid3n

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 05-24-2014, 11:12 AM   #1
Head Moderator
 
Lomac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 1982
Location: Kamloops / NY
Posts: 22,510
Thanked 6,325 Times in 2,018 Posts
RS Tech Article: The $500 Beater Project (Saab 900 Turbo) - June 28 Update

This is the first of hopefully an infrequently updated series of threads about what may or may not be the dumbest purchase I've ever made and whether I come to regret the decision. You may laugh, you may cry, or you may even think to yourself WTF... but I hope that, if nothing else, you will come away from this series with a little more knowledge about the used car market than you entered with.

For those with access to the Member's Rides forum, you can also follow a slightly more frequently updated build thread here.




PART I: The Introduction

Many of the older members of Revscene are familiar with my rather checkered history with cars. While I've generally no aversion or dislike of new cars and the advantages they give to the standard driver of the road, I tend to shy away from them. Oh, sure, I've owned a couple of new cars in the past -- and wholeheartedly enjoyed the accompanied warranty they came with -- but I always find myself being drawn back to cars from the 80's and early 90's. There's something about the relative simplicity of a Volkswagen 1.8L 8v that I enjoy or the wiring of Mazda's 90's era computer system that makes running a standalone engine management system a breeze. That, and parts can typically be found simply lying in a ditch on any given road you happen to be driving on. Some of my cars have gone on to live a healthy post-Lomac life, while others have found themselves relegated to an automotive grave yard (usually) due to no fault of my own. However, what they all shared was a willingness to always strive to be better. Even if that means one of those cars decided they could be better by blowing a headgasket on the middle of the Coquihalla.

I moved to Salmon Arm in the middle of summer in 2013 while in the middle of my ownership of a seventh generation Honda Accord Coupe EXL. Mechanically it was more or less stock, but I had played around with the suspension a fair bit and ended up with a car that was constantly scraping the frame on every loose pebble on the road.



Unfortunately I knew what winter was going to be like while living at the top of a mountain and this thing was not going to cut it. I regrettably ended up selling it and bought qa '99.5 Nissan Pathfinder off a fellow RS.net member to tackle to deep snow that was bound to come. Apart from a careless mechanic trying his best to burn my car after working on it, this thing was relatively reliable. Actually, considering it had 400,000km's on it, it was damn near perfect.



However, the winter was pretty rough on it and by the time snow started melting, a bunch of problems started raising their ugly heads. After pricing out the parts required to fix it (nearly the whole rear suspension, minus the shocks... which I had already replaced... a full exhaust replacement and new bushings for most of the front end) on Rockauto, and factoring the amount of money gas was costing me, I decided to do the only honourable thing I could. I sold it to some girl from 100 Mile House who had already crashed and written off four cars this year. Seriously.



By this time I had moved to Kamloops but found myself in a conundrum - I had no easily accessible wheels and after taking the taxi for a week (side note: taxi drivers up here are even more messed up than those I was used to down on the Coast) I decided enough was enough and started looking for a car.

Seeing as my main automotive history had revolved around both Volkswagen and Nissan, I set my sights on either a stock Nissan S12 (200sx) Turbo or a mint '91/'92 Volkswagen GTI/Jetta GTX. A couple weeks went by with me checking out Craigslist and Kijiji ads on "mint" vehicles that were anything but, when out of sheer boredom one night I decided to see how cheap of a vehicle you could find online.

The usual suspects came back as search results -- Cavaliers/Sunfires with blown engines, completely rusted out K-cars, and a bunch of other crap that's not even worth mentioning. The one thing they all had in common was that I wouldn't trust any of them to drive me to the end of the block, much less use as a LeMons racer or a daily driver. Mechanic Specials that require more money in parts at-cost than you'd ever see back if you thought about flipping it. However, seeing as I wasn't even thinking about buying a cheap vehicle, I simply kept chuckling and browsing.

Then one ad stood out.

FS: 1997 Saab 900 SE Turbo. 5spd. Electrical issues, surging idle, rough physical shape, etc., etc. $500

Like 99% of those of you reading this, Saab as an alternative choice never crossed my mind. If someone thinks of a Swedish brand, it's always Volvo. At this point, all I knew of the NG900 was that the A-pillars are freakishly strong and that this one came stock with a turbo. Since the pictures in the ad were beyond useless, I emailed the seller asking to meet up so I could check it out. Even at this point I had no intentions of actually buying. Yes, I was going to be one of those annoying tire kickers. However, if for some reason I decided to actually buy this piece of crap, I thought it best to do some research online about common issues.

By the way, there are some fantastic Saab forums out there dedicated to everything from the classic 900 right up to the last 9-5x.

Anyway, after arming myself with a wealth of internet knowledge (remember: always take everything with a grain of salt), I took the hour long drive to Enderby and checked out the car.

Yes, there was rust (very minimal)... yes, there were electrical issues (a quick glance suggested than many could be solved by replacing blown fuses)... but no mechanical issues seemed to rear their heads when we turned over the engine. A sheer moment of insanity came over me after chatting with the seller for half an hour and decided to buy the car without even test driving it.

Wait, what?

Yup. I decided to forgo my desires of a mint MK2 GTI (or whatever else my ever changing mind had landed on at that time) and bought myself a $500 beater with the intentions of using it as a daily driver. Oh, sure, I've purchased cars for that price or less in the past, but they were always as either a rolling shell or to use as a parts car for another project I was working on... never as an actual daily driver.


I behold to you what $500 can buy you when you're not meaning to buy anything.











It was delivered fully loaded from the factory, including the dreariest shade of grey leather you can think of. But floor mounted ignition! Rear heated seats! Headlight wipers! Deleted cat and cherrybomb! Okay, so that last one was installed by the previous owner, but it makes the overrun sounds mean as hell.



After towing the 900 to my friend's place in Salmon Arm, I put it up in the air and started trying to figure out what was wrong with it. The seller mentioned that the brakes were shot. Well, apart from the worse-than-useless tow truck operator who failed to release the e-brake before towing the car, the calipers, pads and rotors all looked new. I simply bled the lines and magically the brakes started working again.



Next up was the second most important thing to check - the tires. Again, the seller mentioned that the tires were old and should probably get replaced within the next year or so. However, he kept telling me that he would drive from Enderby to Vernon and back (40-50 minute round trip, depending on traffic), and that I'd be fine if I kept them on for the rest of the season.



Uhm.... no.

Those death traps were instantly discarded and new tires installed.

The last major thing I wanted to tackle before actually driving this thing on the road were a few electrical issues. First was the centre console mounted switch pack.



All it required was a good cleaning with a soft metal brush and some electrical contact cleaner. After plugging it back into the car, all four windows suddenly started working again. I also replaced a few fuses controlling things like external lights, rear defroster, radiator fan, and some other things I can't remember.

I did also notice under the hood that a few vacuum lines were showing some signs of wear and tear, so I spent a couple dollars over at Lordco and replaced everything I could, along with the PCV.

And you know what? After a month of driving this thing on the road, a trip from Kamloops down to Vancouver and back, and weekly trips between Kamloops and Salmon Arm, it's running almost flawlessly. It has sadly been more reliable in the first month of ownership than many of my previous cars costing 10-20x as much were. The turbo pulls strong, the clutch grips hard, transmission is decent (2nd gear syncro seems worn, but I'm used to it from my old KLZE days ), the auto climate works like a charm, and the e-code headlights give a surprisingly impressive light pattern for those nights when I'm driving on the backcountry roads.

Just goes to show that you can't necessarily judge a book by it's cover.

If you've managed to make it this far, congratulations. I intend to use this as a series over the course of my Saab ownership to illustrate the perils (or, hopefully, lack thereof) of buying a dirt cheap car without even test driving it. And not just any sort of cheap car, but one belonging to a brand that doesn't even exist anymore with virtually no dealership network. While I'm busy knocking on wood here by making sure nothing goes wrong with it, any trials and tribulations I come across will certainly be shared with you all.
Advertisement
Lomac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 11:29 AM   #2
My homepage has been set to RS
 
sdubfid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: AB/BC
Posts: 2,045
Thanked 989 Times in 309 Posts
this is way better than reading about lip kits and racing lug nuts
sdubfid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 11:54 AM   #3
My dinner reheated before my turbo spooled
 
swfk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 1,733
Thanked 3,678 Times in 672 Posts
Inspirational for others! Then I realize I have pretty bad luck
swfk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 12:00 PM   #4
RS has made me the bitter person i am today!
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Richmond
Posts: 4,792
Thanked 7,485 Times in 1,953 Posts
i have always loved the early 80's saab turbo's and im happy to see this one too. i think i fall under many car enthusiasts; love the saab, but would never actually consider owning one.
320icar is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 01:31 PM   #5
RS.net, helping ugly ppl have sex since 2001
 
hk20000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Richmond
Posts: 8,637
Thanked 1,356 Times in 508 Posts
Used car markets you get all sorts of stuff between gem and utter crap and everything inbetween. Saabs are cool. Will gain hipster status really soon and appreciate.
__________________
⇐ If I bothered replying, that's the face I made while I typed.

hk20000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 01:35 PM   #6
My AFC gave me an ABS CEL code of LOL while at WOT!
 
Fafine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: vancouver
Posts: 3,219
Thanked 1,225 Times in 382 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdubfid View Post
this is way better than reading about lip kits and racing lug nuts
but but replica seats, led dome lights, coilovers, wheels and spacers are mods too!
lol not rly
Fafine is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 02:06 PM   #7
2x Variable Nockenwellen Steuerung
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: N49.2 W122.1
Posts: 6,179
Thanked 1,175 Times in 705 Posts
Pics of the running car you got for free with the purchase of the Saab?
godwin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 02:19 PM   #8
MiX iT Up!
 
tiger_handheld's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: vancouver
Posts: 7,678
Thanked 1,906 Times in 769 Posts
sub
__________________

Sometimes we tend to be in despair when the person we love leaves us, but the truth is, it's not our loss, but theirs, for they left the only person who couldn't give up on them.


Make the effort and take the risk..

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't." - Eleanor Roosevelt
tiger_handheld is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 02:25 PM   #9
Revscene.net has a homepage?!
 
Klondike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 1,248
Thanked 2,300 Times in 478 Posts
__________________
'18 Mk7.5 Golf 1.8tsi (5MT)
'02 SAAB 9-5 Aero (5MT)
27th September 2015 - 17th September 2017


'03 Toyota Corolla CE 2011 -
Present
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ
Klondike is offline   Reply With Quote
This post thanked by:
Old 05-24-2014, 04:18 PM   #10
"Entertainment" mod.
 
CorneringArtist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Surrey, BC
Posts: 4,524
Thanked 2,827 Times in 850 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by 320icar View Post
i have always loved the early 80's saab turbo's and im happy to see this one too. i think i fall under many car enthusiasts; love the saab, but would never actually consider owning one.
True Saabs maybe, especially some of the GM-era stuff to a certain point. But the one Saab most of us could get on board with is the WRX-based 9-2x Aero.
CorneringArtist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 05:13 PM   #11
RS has made me the bitter person i am today!
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Richmond
Posts: 4,792
Thanked 7,485 Times in 1,953 Posts
not just that, but if anyone was at that faggot ass WCCE meet at spanish banks earlier this year, they would have seen that bright yellow saab. tri-spoke wheels showing brembo brakes, beautiful recaro interior etc. such an oddball sexy as fux car
320icar is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2014, 07:03 PM   #12
I don't get it
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: im over here!
Posts: 449
Thanked 246 Times in 115 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by CorneringArtist View Post
True Saabs maybe, especially some of the GM-era stuff to a certain point.
What defines a "true Saab?"

All Saab, just like Volvo, were always the same car company regardless of who owned them (GM or Ford in Volvo's case). Ultimately what caused the demise of the company of Saab, and almost Volvo too was poor leadership and decisions from Saab.

All the parent company provided them was the funding. Nothing more! If you watch the top gear special, it's all explained there
watch from 12:00

nothing I hate more than people acting like they know shit, when they clearly don't!

Last edited by StanleyR; 05-24-2014 at 08:49 PM.
StanleyR is offline   Reply With Quote
This post thanked by:
Old 05-25-2014, 11:05 AM   #13
Ready to be Man handled by RS!
 
Zoomy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 76
Thanked 73 Times in 21 Posts
haha great read! My c900 also cost $500, and has many of the same problems lol
Zoomy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2014, 01:07 PM   #14
S12 King
 
Indy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: New Westminster
Posts: 2,948
Thanked 180 Times in 69 Posts
*slow clap*
__________________
2017 Subaru WRX Sport
2005 Infiniti G35x - Sold
Quote:
"I'm fairly sure that if they took porn off the internet, there'd only be one website left, and it'd be called 'bring back the porn'"
Indy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-27-2014, 09:46 AM   #15
Head Moderator
 
Lomac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 1982
Location: Kamloops / NY
Posts: 22,510
Thanked 6,325 Times in 2,018 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by godwin View Post
Pics of the running car you got for free with the purchase of the Saab?
Haven't grabbed it yet.
Lomac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-28-2014, 03:17 PM   #16
Head Moderator
 
Lomac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 1982
Location: Kamloops / NY
Posts: 22,510
Thanked 6,325 Times in 2,018 Posts
Part 2: Update #1

So it has now been two months of ownership of this car. I've just realized this is probably the first car I haven't actually named yet, though that might have been due to the fact that I wasn't expecting it to last very long. However, now that I've hit the two month mark, maybe it's time to start thinking of something.

Anyway...

Amazingly, there's nothing major to report. Since buying it on April 19th, I've driven a total of 5005 kilometres, which is, frankly, a hell of a lot of distance for two months. The only issue to speak of was that the trim around the windshield decided to let go one day while driving the highway.



The plastic bit on the side of the windshield I ended up tearing off for now as the mounting clips snapped off and it's virtually impossible to find replacement bits right now. The top rubber trim is currently held on with duct tape. I did end up getting a giant rock chip in the windshield a short while ago, so I'm just waiting for a time to get the actual glass repaired before fixing the trim. Luckily it's sunny more often than not, so I'm not terribly worried about rain getting inside the car right now.

The other thing I decided to work on was the stereo. The stock head unit, though allegedly a decent piece of hardware, didn't want to work. Even after talking with an extremely helpful service/parts adviser in Ontario -- probably the only existing Saab dealership still in existence in Canada -- and getting the radio code from Saab of Sweden, it still refused to work. So I went through my dustbin of old electronics and found the very first USB deck I had bought. I bought this thing from Beamriders when they were still around, to give you an indication on the age of it. Anyway, I spent hours searching online trying to find a proper wiring diagram for the stereo system. I'm getting the impression that not many people like to play around with wiring in their Saabs because I couldn't find anything that was helpful. Finally I did revert back to a very basic wiring diagram for the car and managed to figure it all out (though I'm still stuck with three oddball wires that seem to have no mate... likely something to do with the SID). I also need to still swing by Soundsgood the next time in on the coast and pick up a proper dash kit, but for the moment it's nice to finally have music in a car again. It's been a very quiet 5000km's so far.




Running Tally:

Cost of car: $500
New tires: $514
Vacuum hose & PCV: $14
Misc bulbs: $9
Stereo: $Free
Fuses: $Free

Grand total (including cost of car): $1037

Total mileage driven since purchase: 5005km
Lomac is offline   Reply With Quote
This post thanked by:
Old 06-28-2014, 08:04 PM   #17
Revscene.net has a homepage?!
 
Klondike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 1,248
Thanked 2,300 Times in 478 Posts
Name it after the rally driver Erik Carlsson (like Erik or Carl).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Carlsson
__________________
'18 Mk7.5 Golf 1.8tsi (5MT)
'02 SAAB 9-5 Aero (5MT)
27th September 2015 - 17th September 2017


'03 Toyota Corolla CE 2011 -
Present
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ
Klondike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2014, 10:36 AM   #18
14 dolla balla aint got nothing on me!
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Surrey, BC
Posts: 680
Thanked 78 Times in 50 Posts
Saabrina?
__________________
1993 Tourquise MR2 Turbo
2005 PWP TSX
2001 Nissan Pathfinder LE
saveth is offline   Reply With Quote
This post thanked by:
Old 07-02-2014, 06:28 PM   #19
...in the world.
 
Ronin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Richmond
Posts: 28,460
Thanked 7,646 Times in 2,324 Posts
Out of curiousity, how much does insurance cost on this thing? I assume it's your second car so you automatically get 43%.

I'm kinda playing with the idea of buying an interesting older project car and want to know what sort of insurance and storage costs I'd be taking on.
__________________
- edeats.com <-- my food blog
- edlau|photo <-- photos
- Instagram <-- moar photos
Ronin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2014, 09:46 PM   #20
2x Variable Nockenwellen Steuerung
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: N49.2 W122.1
Posts: 6,179
Thanked 1,175 Times in 705 Posts
Probably between 500-1000? Cheaper if you only take collision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronin View Post
Out of curiousity, how much does insurance cost on this thing? I assume it's your second car so you automatically get 43%.

I'm kinda playing with the idea of buying an interesting older project car and want to know what sort of insurance and storage costs I'd be taking on.
godwin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2014, 10:21 PM   #21
Head Moderator
 
Lomac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 1982
Location: Kamloops / NY
Posts: 22,510
Thanked 6,325 Times in 2,018 Posts
I'm actually running it as my main vehicle and it's insured as such. I'm not sure of the total yearly cost ss I transfered the insurance off another vehicle onto it. It's around the $1100 mark, though, with specified peril and $2 million. It's also at the 40% mark because my accident with the Accord knocked me back a couple steps.
Lomac is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:24 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.
Revscene.net cannot be held accountable for the actions of its members nor does the opinions of the members represent that of Revscene.net