Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saab’s 900 / 9-3 Convertible Turns 25 this Year

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This year marks the 25 anniversary of Saab’s Convertible model that was first launched under the 900 nameplate and later on, the 9-3 moniker, which is still used today. And while the Swedish firm’s current financial woes don’t allow for a more appropriate celebration, Saab released some key facts and figures on its drop top model.

The convertible’s history started in 1983 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where Saab unveiled a new concept model with a powered soft-top based on the 900 liftback. After gauging the public’s reaction, Saab decided to introduce a production version of the four-seater model, which was built by Finland’s Valmet Automotive.

The car went on sale in 1986, with the first 400 examples built for the US market. The 900 Convertible was launched with a 175 hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, with Saab later on enhancing the range to include full and light-pressure turbo engines, more model specifications and top-of-the-line Aero variants.

After GM’s involvement in Saab in 1989, the Swedish company presented a new generation of the 900 series based on the Opel Vectra platform in 1993. The following year, Saab added the Convertible version to the lineup under the banner: 'We didn't invent the Convertible, but we made a Saab of it'. The second generation 900 Convertible kept the same four-seat layout and powered soft-top with its predecessor, but featured a completely flat rear with the roof stowed away under a flush-fitting 'tonneau' cover. In 1998, Saab refreshed and renamed the entire 900 series to 9-3, with the Convertible model benefiting from the same upgrades as the rest of the range.

The next chapter in the Convertible’s history began in 2003, one year after the presentation of the sedan model based on GM’s Epsilon platform architecture. The third generation Saab Convertible, which is still in production today, brought several improvements at the time such as two phase’ automatic tonneau movement for quick roof deployment, water repellent textile seat upholstery and an automatic climate control adjustment for a ‘top-down’ heating mode. Saab also notes that tt was also the first soft-top model to achieve a maximum, five-star EuroNCAP rating.

Today, the 9-3 Convertible is offered with a choice of gasoline, diesel and bio-fuel engines, and various trim levels, while the Swedish automaker celebrating its first year of independence from GM with a special edition of the drop top model at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

If Saab manages to its financial health and keep to its plan of revealing a brand new 9-3 in 2012, a Convertible version should make its way into production shortly after.


Saab Convertible Key Facts [From Saab]

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