Many people will have you believe that shortly after today’s featured Buick was built, everything went downhill. The feds forced big bumpers, impact bars, smog equipment and retarded timing on cars and made them into shriveled up versions of their former selves. But that’s not entirely true, as some interesting solutions came out of those difficult times, including one of the first truly successful applications of turbocharging to a passenger car (yes anoraks, Corvairs and BMW 2002 turbos came first). Have a look at this 1978 Saab 99 turbo, for sale for $900 in Portland, OR.
Ah, the old “wash the car and photograph it wet” trick. But we won’t be fooled – look at that big patch of oxidation on the center of the hood, the gray rubber bumper and faded rear view mirror. That said, for the price this is a pretty straight 99, turbo or not, assuming it’s in similar shape all around. This running-when-parked special has been at rest since 1991, and no clue is given as to the cause of its long-term slumber. While these were successful for Saab, they did share some weaknesses with their naturally aspirated brothers, so you’ll have to dig a little to see if that applies here. Seats do appear to be from a 900, which is a shame since the originals were funky in a way only the Swedes can pull off.
A couple of iconic designs came from the 99 turbo, though – what car nut doesn’t remember these Inca wheels? Water on the finish notwithstanding, this wheel is in great shape, with the center cap present and no curb rash or chipping. The TURBO badge is also a classic piece. While these cars were not insanely powerful on paper, getting hit by a wave of torque when you reach 3000rpm is an experience every car nut should have.
So basically we’re looking at a project 99 turbo, which is great, since it gives you the latitude to make some neat changes while maintaining all the classic styling cues. How about this – stock exterior, replace the engine with a 900 turbo unit if it’s failed, and update the interior with 9000 Aero seats, redone in brownish-red with black accents to recall the originals?