m4ff3w Dork
9/3/09 10:10 a.m.

Last Feb I bought my wife a really nice 99 Subaru Outback. Super clean, recent HG/Timing job at the dealer.

She doesn't really like it. The last car she drove prior to it was our modded 91 Volvo 745T, which was pushing about 12psi when I gave it back to her.

She tells me all the time "I miss having a turbo" she keeps sending me links to mid/late 90's Saab 900s, some early 9-3, and a few early 9-5s, all turbo and auto.

How are they reliability wise? How about accessing the transverse engine for maintenance?

81gtv6 Reader
9/3/09 11:09 a.m.

First off let me tell you that I have a 99 9-3 SE that is my DD and my wife drives an 03 9-5 Aero, I have had the Kool aid and I like it.

With that being said, my 9-3 had 191K and it has only needed an AC compressor and a fuel pump. I am starting to have issues with the window switches, they are easy to rebuild, but other than that everything works. In my experience they are reliable if taken care of, but again YMMV.

Oil changes are the most important thing with these cars, particularly with the 2.3 engined cars. If full synthetic oil was not used and/or not cahnged enough sludge will build up in the oil pan, block the oil pump and things go south from there. When we were looking for my wifes car I took a piece of coat hanger with a loop on the end. I would put it down the dipstick tube and scrape the bottom of the oil pan, if anything was stuck to the hanger we walked. As far as working on the car, I don't think they are any worse than any other FWD car and actually the 9-5 has more room than I would have guessed as long as you get a 4 and not a 6. Another thing that is talked about alot is the Direct Ignition Cassette. These do fail and when they do you are stuck, the car will not start. My 9-3 is on its second one, the original failed at @120K. I had a new one in the trunk and my wife changed it in like 15 minutes and she was on her way. My feeling on the matter is this: keep the plugs gapped correctly and use only the OEM plugs and the DIC will last a long time, neglect those things and it will die sooner.

If you are looking at a 9-3, in my opinion the one to get would be a 99 SE with a manual (that is what mine is). In that car you get the turbo and intercooler out of the Viggen with the T5 engine managment system. All of the 9-5s,Viggens and 9-3 from 2000 on have the T7 system and it is not as mod friendly as T5. With a MBC you can get up to 15psi before the stock computer shuts things down, just be sure to hold onto the wheel . Mine has a 3in DP, 2.5in the rest of the way, a MBC and an opened up stock airbox with a dropin K&N. I get mid 20's driving back and forth to work and low to mid 30's on longer trips.

http://www.saabnet.com/ and http://www.saabcentral.com/ are great places to find answers.

If you were closer you would be more than welcome to take mine for a drive, anyway if you have any other questioins feel free to ask.

procainestart Dork
9/3/09 12:31 p.m.

If she decides on the smaller NG900, skip it and make sure it's new enough (1998-2002) to be a 1st-gen 9-3 (basically, a 2nd-gen NG900 with a new name), which benefited from many refinements over its predecessor. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saab_9-3#1998-2002)

Heed 81gtv6's advice about carrying a spare DI cassette in the trunk. These things are a really neat component of Saabs Trionic system (they handle both spark and, ingeniously, knock detection) but are sadly not the most durable thing ever bolted to a car...

fiat22turbo SuperDork
9/3/09 2:14 p.m.

How about a Subaru Turbo? Say like a Forrester Turbo or even and Impreza wagon?

m4ff3w Dork
9/3/09 3:18 p.m.

The Subaru turbos are not cheap enough yet.

mad_machine SuperDork
9/3/09 4:00 p.m.

I have one of the first NGs.. a 94 SE Turbo.

Great car, but everything not ontop of the engine requires you to pull the subframe to work on it (or so it seems)

Honestly they are great cars. Sludging is an issue more with the T7 cars. the pre 1999 T5s do not suffer as much from this problem as the later cars.

Interior fit and finish is better than most BMWs of the age. The headliner DOES fall down.. but the door panals are solid and the glovebox does not warp.

Agreed on the DIC. I found a working one in a junkyard and it lives in my (sizable) trunk. If these cars depreciate any more, they will be paying people to take them

fiat22turbo SuperDork
9/3/09 5:44 p.m.

Huh, I can find an 02 WRX for the price of a 99 Legacy...

How about a Volvo turbo wagon?

m4ff3w Dork
9/3/09 6:26 p.m.
fiat22turbo wrote: Huh, I can find an 02 WRX for the price of a 99 Legacy... How about a Volvo turbo wagon?

Where? Unless some place other than San Antonio the '99 Legacy is worth waay more than here.

A FWD Volvo wagon is a possibility, have had many RWD Volvos.

fiat22turbo SuperDork
9/3/09 6:49 p.m.

Portland, OR home of the Subaru (well next to Colorado at least) A road trip isn't too bad from here.

dj06482 New Reader
9/3/09 7:48 p.m.

Saabs are decent cars (we owned a '00 9-3 for a few years), but the best advice I can give you is to pay a little more and get one that was taken care of. I wouldn't think of buying one that didn't come with a stack of maintenance records. Similar to BMWs, deferred maintenance has the potential to drain your wallet.

m4ff3w Dork
9/3/09 9:20 p.m.

Thanks yall.

HappyAndy Reader
9/3/09 10:44 p.m.

I am a c900 junkie myself, but my wife has a 9000 with DI cassett ignition, and we have had no problems so far. use only oem plugs and make sure they are propperly gaped. change them more frequntly than the reccomended service interval on a turbo car. As far as ng900s go, I have a friend who is a SAAB tech, and he thinks highly of ng900s and 1g 9-3s with the 2.3 engines, he even says that the auto trans holds up decently in cars with stock boost levels. OTOH, he's not to keen on 9-5s at all. YMMV. I'm sticking with my trusty old c900s.

Feedyurhed Reader
9/4/09 5:41 a.m.

Love Saabs but I would look for a cheap Turbo Subie.

m4ff3w Dork
9/4/09 7:56 a.m.

The going rate for Outbacks down here seems to be $3000 +-500. Our is super nice, recent (before we got it) timing belt & head gaskets done @ the dealership. Leather interior is absolutely perfect.

It does have 167k miles though but on the upside it is a 30th Anniversary Limited.

We paid $3000 for it in Feb and wouldn't expect to get much more out of it.

No turbo Subarus anywhere near that down here.

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