Saab's much loved old-shape 900 was in production for decades. By the time it was replaced in 1993, there was a huge and intensely loyal group of buyers awaiting the new car with interest. What they got was a re-bodied and re-engineered Vauxhall Cavalier with typically eccentric Saab touches, like the ignition switch on the floor.
After a slow start, sales of this new 900 gained momentum and its reputation is fast approaching that of the original. These cars are strong, safe, responsive and feel like they'll last forever. They also hold their values well too, so if a 900 interests you, you're making a sensible, if ever-so-slightly unusual decision.
A choice of three body styles was the limit to the range; three-door hatch (usually known as a Coupe), five-door hatch and convertible. Only the five-door was available at the October 1993 launch. Engines were either 2.0 or 2.3-litre four cylinders (and a 2.0-litre turbo version) or the Vauxhall-made 2.5-litre V6. The turbo four was powerful (more so than the V6) and smooth, due to Saab's special engine balance shafts.
The three-door arrived in February 1994, followed by the convertible in September. There was a small upgrade for base model cars in February 1995 when colour-coded bumpers were added.
The range stayed much the same since launch - trim levels were base, S or SE. A further variant called Sensonic S became available in May 1995. No longer in production, it differed from the standard car by having a manual transmission without a clutch pedal - you simply changed gear as normal and a computer operated the clutch for you. One to keep an eye out for, it was also available in the convertible model.
To boost sales, a better-equipped version of the lower-order 900 2.0 five-door was introduced in 1996 - the 900 2.0i XS - while a 2.3i XS five-door model was added in 1997.
Other 1997 improvements included larger, more supportive front seats with velour upholstery, a more precise gearchange, larger brake discs and heat-reflecting glass. Every version above 2.0-litres got a rear reflective panel inserted between the rear light clusters, and engine size badging.
Saab celebrated the 900's successful attack on the world endurance record with a new trim level called Talladega. The super-fast speedway in Talladega, Alabama was the site for Saab's non-stop lapping of a banked circuit in early 1997. Cars so named gained a host of luxury equipment and special badging.
The 1998 year-model cars began to appear in time for the R-plate changeover, with the main change the dropping of the V6 engine. A heavily modified range appeared in March 1998, renamed '9-3', with changes centred on chassis modifications as well as a mild facelift.