Opinions Please..

Salutations:
As many regulars will know - we were coming up on (and am now at) the the point where we must do something about our '89 9000T CD..
There have been several options pursued to no great success surrounding buying a newer, less tatty, perhaps hatchback body and moving the still ok 89 engine over to the newer body on the premise that we could get into a better overall ride relatively inexpensively if we could find an early 90's 9000 with a dead engine and because we would have a substantial supply of spares for the final vehicle..
This has not turned out to be the case - indeed - as was finally agree, anyone that has a good 9000 body and interior still on the road in Eastern Canada is keeping it, fixing it or asking quite a princely sum for it.. Great Minds - Fools Never.. :) ..
Soooo - there is some loose talk about picking up SOB (some other brand) - notably a 87 Mercedes 300TD (Turbo Diesel) Wagon with about the same mileage (320,000km).. However, for the $6,200 (CDN) being quoted and knowing it will need repair in the coming couple of years - I have been wondering how far that might go to really fixing up the current 9000 using an older donor instead..
I have found an 86 9000T hatch five speed turbo with a black leather interior in good shape (has gauge pack) that runs - but is so badly rotted out as be available for $500 if I'm willing to tow it away..
I have a quote of around $2,000 to properly paint and repair what body work on mine needs to be done - closer inspection proved out that the primary rust on her is at the door sills and passenger rear quarter panel - but the shell itself is actually in very good shape structurally.. That $2,000 figure would include moving the black interior over from the 86 hatchback, putting to rights the passenger window(s) I messed up and dropping in a new windshield (mine is pitted and hazed)..
Leaving us with the engine bay and suspension/steering systems(s) to bring up to grade..
I'd move the 5 speed tranny over from the '86 (ours is currently automatic) as well as the gauge pack, pick the best turbo between the two and transplant what I think may be a non ABS brake system from the 86.. I have already fixed a CV and done all brakes as well as the ball joints and replaced all the springs (lowered the front, cargos on the rear) on mine - I still have to do *all* the lower bushings and will need to remake the exhaust from under the front seats to the tip as well as do the crank seal, distributor and generally replace most of the rubber hoses and lines under the hood.. Perhaps a timing chain and head gasket preventively as well while the engine is out.. This would bring all the worn bits under the hood up to grade and she still is within 4 pds of OEM compression across all pistons as it is..
Good mechanical labour is quoting around $1,500 - $2,000 for the engine swap and assorted bushing/exhanst work excluding parts - which I think I can bring in for around a $1,500 all told (with perhaps a nice set of three spoke wheels).. The labour figure - while not etched in stone - is reliable..
This would leave me with a completely serviced 5 speed 1989 9000T CD that I would paint to look a lot like this:
http://home.nycap.rr.com/stephens9000 /
.. which I think is about as perfect a 'rodding' of an old style 9000 as I've ever seen..
So frankly brothers and sister - I'm stumped.. It's a lot of money to throw at an old car for repairs/restoration - but I have to think that the mercedes will be in about the same shape in a couple of years as the current SAAB is and very probably as expensive to fix up..
While we very much love the SAAB for handling, comfort and safety, the 300TD offers seven passenger seating at the expense of comfort and handling - it's like piloting the Tirpiz from the test drive and just as safe I'll bet..
We are at the point where we have to make a call one way of the other in a month or two - so thoughts, comments, restoration experiences, opinions (other than what crappy tires they make these days) are welcomed and appreciated..
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J Dexter - webmaster - http://www.dexterdyne.org /
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Dexter J wrote:

I'd agree with you there - big old Merc estates are great cars, just not much fun to drive. I personally couldn't live with one. But they're *beautifully* engineered - no nonsense engineering at it's finest.
Are 9000s that thin on the ground where you are? You can't go anywhere without tripping over one round here...
--
Grunff


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Salutations:
Grunff wrote:

Hey brother Grunff - you were right about the unpleasant threads - glad I was busy otherwise.. And yes sort of thin - but not just 10+ year old SAAB examples - it's the sodium bargain with the devil we have to make round here..
Nova Scotia is sort of a small isthmus into the North Atlantic and thusly we have a very active freeze thaw cycle through the winter such that the highways folks are forced to pretty much bury all the roads in an inch of rock salt come late fall, reapplying to maintain safe depth from about Nov 1 through May 1 - when they then have to reroll most roads to push the heaves back down and, of course, bring in the tandems to fill in the pot holes where they had pushed down the heaves the previous year..
I can't find it, but there is a spring picture of the road up to our campground that looks almost exactly like those old shots you see of Flanders during the first world war.. Complete with rusty barbed wire, dead trees and what looks for all the world like a pair of facing trenches that have been shelled with rail guns..
In short - it's absolute hell on bodies and chassis around here and most locals swear you can actually go out on quiet nights and hear the salt cooking your machine.. Assuming you haven't blow off an engine mount or broken a coil in your travels through the fall/winter/spring - you can expect to find at least one rust hole (pin right up to custom air vent) come spring..
Consequently - there are very few examples of 8 or 9 years old cars of any kind that don't (or won't shortly) need substantial chassis and body work (including the 300TD) - and the very few pre '93 SAAB 9000's that aren't already knackered are cared for lovingly and not usually for sale, or for sale at fairly steep prices given the love and care that has been lavished upon them to clear annual safety inspections (MOT) to this point ..
For example, there is an OK - not great - but OK Anniversary 9000 on the blocks for $12,000 (CDN) that we were looking at until I saw the tell tale oil pooling around a fresh passenger side engine mount AND a slightly rough welding patch just behind the rear wheel well on the drivers underside..
There are of course several good 95's and even a couple of OK NG900 - but again - prices start in the 4.5k range for non-turbo automatic 900's with cloth and worn springs/shocks..
The Mercedes turbo wagon does have curb appeal for us and around the same fuel mileage on diesel interestingly - but I will make the leap that work on it will very expensive - perhaps more expensive than the SAAB.. So - I really wondering if my estimates for parts or service on my current 9000 is way off because based on current research, I might be able to pretty much restore and customize my current SAAB for about the same $6,200 it will take to buy this Mercedes - which no doubt will require about the same kind of work I'm looking at for the SAAB now in another season or two..
Is the 89 9000T CD 'the one', if you get the reference.. Can I invest in a proper job now before it's too late body wise and end up with another 300,000k?.. Or - is it again time to put a round between the headlights and move on to the next machine?
It's a sour pickle that has to be dealt with soon one way or the other brother Grunff - my toe in current changes about 1.5 on both sides every time I hit the brakes above 60kph - but you can't quite hear the control arms binding because of the pretty much open pipe under the passenger seats..
Arrggggg - why? -- WHY damn it -- is it always the pretty ones?..
--
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Dexter J wrote:

Gees, I thought we had it bad. Sounds horrible. In the UK, you very rarely see a rusted out 9k, the galvanised body seems to take care of most of what British weather can throw at it.

They have their weaknesses, but they're all easily taken care of. If you sort out the suspension (wish I could send you my pair of spare struts at reasonable cost - they're just sitting here doing nothing), do all the engine mounts, new clutch/brakes/fuel pump/steering rack, it's as good as new.
Sure you'll have the odd wheel bearing going over the next few hundred k, but that's easy saturday morning stuff.
Have you considered something in stainless steel? That's kind of my dream actually, a C900 built entirely in s/s. Mmmmm....If I ever make my millions, that'll be close to the top of the list.
--
Grunff


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Salutations:
Grunff wrote:

It's exactly like Scotland - except it ranges from 1 or 2 degrees above freezing right down to 20 below, sometimes within a 24 hour period and usually with a light rain that at some point turns into ice pellets then snow.. Hence - the sodium bargain with the devil.. On the other hand - it stays cool and breezy in the summer and it's relatively safe to park your car unlocked and unarmed most places..

I may well be interested in your struts - I'll need a fresh front pair if I do go ahead and depending - they might be a bargain.. One of the reasons I'm looking at this now is that I can avoid a lot of rush shipping if a decision is reached soon (Mrs J Dexter says hi to the group and is interested in what opinion is gather on the is thread too)..
The assumption isn't being made that I can weld the hood shut upon completion of course, but, can it be assumed that it will be mostly reliable and possibly rust free for a couple of years given work outlined?
As an example, I replaced the engine mounts last spring, but didn't do the engine seal and have since rotted out the rear one again from hot oil contamination (and a run through a particularly nasty pothole/trench on a secondary I didn't spot in the dark a couple of weeks ago)..
As to the perfect Nova Scotian car?
That's easy.. Build a slightly wider, flatter 1992 9000 CSE completely out of carbon fibre using 1 ton adjustable springs (3 inch normal - variable to 9 inch clearance - sort of like the old Cit) and all stainless fittings and hoses.. Put the coil and distributor back in - but on a 2.3 turbo engine and issue them with optional 4 speeds from the old 99/900 - but with real overdrives..
We'd actually be willing to sign financing for one at the dealer and be glad to wait on delivery - because it would pretty much be the last car we would ever need..
I always liked the delorian of course, but no rear seats and I would have to drop that crummy V6 for a SAAB 225 Turbo engine if I ever did pick one up.. In fact, I'm sure I saw a 9000 custom with gullwing doors somewhere last night when I was surfing around.. Now that would be really neat I think..
--
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Dexter J wrote:

They would be a bargain, but the shipping really kills the deal..

Personally don't see why not, but luck can have a big part in this.

Before I say anything, let me say that the DeLorean is one of my dream cars - I've wanted one since I was 12, and would buy one in a heartbeat if I could afford it.
*BUT* #They have crap engines. #The stainless panels are non-structural, over fiberglass mostly. #The chassis isn't stainless, and is very good at rusting. #They drive like crap
PS - did you know that both the 9000 and the DeLorean were styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro? Of course you did.
--
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Salutations:
Grunff wrote:

http://www.italdesign.it /
Actually I did - which is why I said 'of course'.
I still feel The 9000 represents possibly the best interior design in terms of ergonomics and operation of all time and I think the basic lines are pretty much close to perfect for a utility classic. For a sedan of it's size and capacity it really was inspired and I'm hoping mine can be made to look as impressive today as when it was released with some minor updates and paint..
I still dream that the GM folks will use Epsilon platform will revive the 9000 body - only wider and even flatter as part of their 'platform' concepts - a four door Delorean/SAAB sort of thing. I wonder if they accept unsolicited concept drawings? A solid Canadian boy is running the ops over there I think.. :) ..
Anyway - Guigiaro did many of my favourite all time the super wedge dream cars including Delorean, the Esprit and the BMW M1, as well as the Maserati Merak and Quattroporte (sedan).. Very unfortunately, like his current website where the navigation is a not well thought out, a lot of the underlying engineering isn't usually as good as the design - except for the SAAB and the Volks Golf where Guigiaro finally got lucky.
If we do keep her - I still think this fellow has really gotten to the heart of the look and except for possible suicide door conversion on the rear - and the fact that I'm running a CD instead of a hatch - I would want mine would look a lot like this at the end:
http://home.nycap.rr.com/stephens9000 /
In terms of 'the call' - we have released our dealer out for one last hunt around to see what can be had in an early 90's SAAB 9000T for $6,000 (CND) locally - I remain pessimistic that anything suitable will be found, but he wants to try.. Mrs Dexter J are both sitting on the fence, however a quick round of calls regarding work on Mercedes chassis and panels will give us a better idea..
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DExter, Someone in Conneticut has 3 '89 9000CD turbos for sale on TSN <http://www.saabnet.com/tsn/class/9000.html . Would a donor car or 3 help to rebuild yours? Rod.
On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 19:44:45 -0300, Dexter J

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Salutations:
Hey bother Rodney - can't get them across the border cost effectively (Free Trade my Toque).
However, that's going to be a really great link for parts if we go ahead. Thanks very much man.
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Grunff wrote:

As long as it's not mine. I'm not selling my 1993 CSE 2.0T, no way...
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Cars must be really expensive in Canada. I would not put that money into keeping a car that age on the road. I am currently looking at changing my 1996 NG900 which I bought for 3,500 ( I'm in the UK) to a 1998/99 9-5 (sedan). I have priced several good examples at between 5,000 and 6,000 with mileages running between 50K and 100K.
Saab main dealer servicing is pricey in the UK. I get mine done by an independent.
Avoid the Merc (which is a barge compared to the (any) Saab). Stay with Saab!
Anyways good luck in your quest.
Pete Brown Ballyclare County Antrim Northern Ireland

90's
work
the
new
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seal,
hood
three
I
throw
handling
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Salutations:
Hey brother Pete - thanks for the info.
The problem really comes down to this I guess. Is it better to get down to brass tacks and do a functional body and mechanical restoration/service round on everything at the end of it's duty cycle on the current 9000T CD (320,000kms) where the previous owner serviced several very expensive turbo/tranny things and as I can get a fully operational but unserviceable rusted 86 9000 Turbo hatchback with an almost complete set of spares and upgrades for this project - or - move on to the next victim - or - bodge the current ride together for another winter and live with a 'Rat SAAB'.. Which on the 9000 is actually pretty lame - not at all like running an old 900 into the ground - where it *can* be kinda neat in a butch kinda way..
I'm from the 'utility classic' end of the spectrum regarding SAABs (bring back the 4 speed I say!) - however I also don't want a car making lifestyle statements I would rather not want to be held by my neighbours and business associates and I have a couple of other very fab toys that require 'special' luv.
It is strictly the family rod - so I have to maintain 'perspective' about all of this. Which goes both ways sometimes..
The 89 9000 CD is a *very good* (exceptional actually) all weather family rod given conditions here and the numbers being quoted are Canadian dollars - about 2 to the sound old pound these days (I think).. That said - you can appreciate that you really have to be willing to put a round between the headlights and move on to the next two year ride when you are looking at any 14 year old 320,000km device - no matter what it is.
I was forced to replace all the springs, rear shocks, joints, a CV, rotors as I have been rolling along.. The $500 86 Turbo donor - 'The Other' - was started with an engine restoration but abandoned when the body got a closer inspection.. It runs strong as well - but is kinda 'breezy' from *all* the wheel wells and several floor/firewall points.
The Other has a solid five speed, a great non-ABS master as well as fresh bearings and seals, a good black leather interior - and would represent a fair collection of other bits that I currently would need to fix mine now and will need in the near future.
I paid $1,800 for mine as it was considered 'unserviceable' locally 2 years ago and sunk I another $3,000 in over the past 80,000kms/2 years on wear and tear items mentioned above..
Basically - the unfathomable 'pwob' at purchase was a 10 cent o-ring on the distributor - which was replaced in about 15 minutes when it was figured out by a real mechanic.. Bingo - Bango - Bongo - it's been running strong and proud winter and summer since - hauling me and mine anywhere anytime every time and even came away from a light smack to the bustle this spring unscathed.. That black vinyl bumper shroud even lost the 'JEEP' dimple after a couple of sunny days and some strategic parking angles - which was kinda kool considering the kind of expenses those little pats on the bottom can lead to in a colour matched plastic shroud..
So my thinking is - in the longer term - a fully serviced and painted 5 speed 9000 Turbo with a good old coil and magnetic ignition system, no ABS and a locker of spares to back her up (including a turbo, an engine, full loom and glass to the rear doors) *should* be a relatively inexpensive tractor for another 300,000kms - perhaps beyond.
Things are going to wear out - but not several big things I could do now relatively cheaply as the tranny is swapped and the body work done..
The work will run me between $6,000 and $8,000 depending on paint - which is surprisingly varied in terms of cost and quality around here.. Several folks have simply refused the job or priced it so that I'll go away and leave them to the insurance calls.
This is pretty much exactly what it will cost me to buy the 87 mercedes turbo diesel wagon (also 320,000km) - including springs/shocks/brakes.. It is a surprisingly fuel efficient diesel given the near Bismark proportions (same average mileage numbers as the 9000 on $.69 cent litres) - but it will likely require exactly the kind of work the current SAAB needs now in about 2 years/80,000kms - as well as wear and tear items as we roll along.
Now while the 87 Mercedes wagon is old Ford Galaxy wagon *BIG* - it's not a lot more roomy in the actual passenger compartment and I just can't be talked into strapping anyone I love into the jump seats as any kind of good idea if I don't want to spend the rest of my life wondering how things might have turned out differently - if you get my meaning.
Especially given rear wheel drive technology through the Nova Scotia winter.
However - it *is* also a top drawer german turbo diesel of considerable reputation well known for being a *very* high mileage conveyance - if you do the service.. Million Kilo machines are not uncommon at all in it's class and say what you will about the sexes - married Ladies with broods like my 'missus are a little weird for mercedes wagons..
I think - where we see ourselves blasting at red line into Karlstad in the midnight dawn - they see themselves hauling saddles and velvet helmets across a cobble paddock on dewy spring mornings.. Viva La Difference I say..
Anyway - on the whole - we are leaning towards the SAAB as it's *probably* better to end up with a completely serviced 320,000km SAAB with a good paint job now (if I can afford one).. But - just to throw yet another kitten in the bag - my wrench meister is (well was) strongly leaning towards the Mercedes until I pointed out that several parts we were looking for were on the $500 '86 - which then brings us back to the paint - labour and potential longevity/cost of ownership.
Apparently there is a much broader spares after market for Mercedes than for SAAB 9000's (which I thought was a little odd)..
But as noone here seems to have undertaken a non performance 80's series 9000 Turbo restoration - I fear I may be breaking new ground.. Which brings up the question - is the reason this particular road is less travelled because it's a crummy road?
It's a pickle brother Pete - as I said earlier on this thread - why must it always be the pretty ones?. :/ ..
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