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July 30 Weekly Thread--Fantastically Pointless

Saab900Limo1I'm sure at least some of you have seen the 1985 Saab 900 Turbo limousine that has been making the rounds of the automotive blogosphere over the last few weeks, most prominently on Autoblog and Bring a Trailer. As a dyed-in-the-wool first-gen Saab 900 Turbo fanatic, this car leaves me sputtering and speechless, my mental wheels spinning helplessly while I try to sort out how I feel about it. Is it a heretical creation, a profane insult to the proud Saab 900 family that needs to be burned as an offering to the concept of Saabish purity? Or is it a cryptically compelling oddity that serves no discernable purpose but must be protected and treasured--like the automotive equivalent of a unicorn that recites baseball statistics in fluent Spanish?

I think I'm in the latter camp, but either way an opportunity may have been missed here. The Saab 900 Turbo was made in both hatchback and convertible bodystyles. How amazing would this limo have been had it been either a hatchback or convertible limo?

My bigger question, though, is this--what exactly do you do with this beast? I'd rule out any commercial business, as no carousing bachelor party or group of awkward teenagers heading off to Homecoming would prefer this to the usual dull black Lincoln Town Car-based limo. Finding a couple willing to cruise away from their nuptials in this creation in front of all their family and friends also seems like it would be a long shot. Sure, the 1980s are in style, but most people still look at the Saab 900 as strange, not nostalgic. The only potential commercial clients I can imagine are former Saab executives and possibly 1990s Swedish dance group Ace of Base.

Limiting your scope to personal activities doesn't seem to improve things much. The eBay listing says that this car is "the ULTIMATE dream method of transportation for the Saabophile !!.....", but I don't see it. Here at Car Lust we're all about embracing people who have vehicular tastes that are ... erm ... out of the ordinary, and I certainly don't have a problem with limo enthusiasts. I love that somebody had the inspiration to create this car, and it's fantastic that it exists.

But this thing can't be as much fun to drive as a normal Saab 900 Turbo, and if you don't have passengers in back enjoying the ride, what's the point? Do limo enthusiasts just use their cars for casual transportation with the back seats empty, or do they just keep them as show vehicles? I just don't know. 

In the hopes of priming the conversational pump, I have a few questions for the Car Lust readership that relate to this rare beast:

  • Is this Saab limousine a rare, delectable treat, or a horrifying abomination?
  • Would you consider personally owning a limo of any kind, and if so, for what purpose?
  • Would you drive it personally, or hire a driver to chauffeur you around?
  • What's the weirdest limo conversion your imagination can conjure? The minimum allowable weirdness baseline has been set by the Chrysler K-car Executive and the three limos created by the Top Gear UK team a few years ago.

--Chris H.


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My favorite thing about this limo? It led to this Saab 900 Turbo *Wagon*--a combination that leaves me a little bit flustered.

On a slightly different topic, I've been in the midwest (Wisconsin) for the past couple of weeks and the comparing what's on the road there to here (Pac. NW) is rather striking. Far, far more domestics -- notably GM -- around those parts (most observations in a small city, btw). And it was odd not to see the vast array of Volvos, Priuses, and Subarus that are ubiquitous round these parts. Not sure if the number of pickups is any different, but the ones there tended to be more, well, *used*.

Not nearly as many older models either, owing to the harsher winters and road salt. I noticed that when I first moved out here: mild winters = well-preserved cars.

The roads tended to be much better as well. Washington state, for some inexplicable reason, still allows studded tires. Consequently, all of our freeways have two roughened grooves worn down in each lane. Makes for incredibly noisy driving. Rarely snows here, but there is a significant number of people who regularly put the studded tires on the first of October and don't take them off until March 31. Hilarious to see Toyotas and Subarus puttering around in 50 degrees and rain for weeks with their studs crunching along the city streets.

This make DeLorean limos logical in comparison!

For the Saab, maybe hipsters would take a fancy for it.

Oh, and I'll take this time to say that Top Gear USA, particularly Tanner Faust's Corvette limo, RIPPED OFF Jeremy Clarkson's inner rail/seat thing-mechanism that, um, helps with the huge front door/rear seat access.

Weird limos....I recall seeing Phil Donahue (remember him?) getting out of a Volvo limo. Ranks right up there with a Checker limo owned by John McEnroe. There seems to ab a market for "anti-limo" limso used by celebrites who want to look like common folk, but really want a car to set them apart from the rest of us.

I spent two weeks in the Indianapolis area last year for an auto thing and also being from the Pacific Northwest noticed the same things Anthony mentions.
Lots of rust in the upper midwest, fewer imports..if you replaced every Subaru with a GM car here in the NW, GM would have never gone broke.

This is the perfect case in point for the adage that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. It could also be used as the focal point of a drug free shop class campaign.
I could never see myself owning a limo, a hearse maybe, but not a limo. If I had a hearse I’d use it as a mobile bar serving “embalming” fluid from the slide out cadaver shelf in the back.

That Saab wagon just looks so right.

As a Saab 900 hater, this only makes the abomination worse in my eyes because there is more of it. :-)

I wouldn't be interested in a limo, but there are some trucks that are nearly limo length and definitely bigger overall that I'd consider. Though not if I lived in the city. But the F350 Crew Cab long box? It runs 168 inch wheelbase, so definitely in the neighborhood.

I love limousines, but I have to put this in the "Horrifying abomination" category. Not because of the conversion itself, but because it is a party bus. It ruins the, er, "unique" lines of the 900. The proportions are all off. It misses the whole point of a limousine, in fact. If this was a reasonable more-legroom-and-division job, it wouldn't look so cartoonish.

That's the problem with ALL modern "limo conversions," actually: stupid lengthened for-hire SUVs are not elegant nor personal. Cadillac really needs to make a Fleetwood Seventy-Five again; they always knew how to get it right. Even the wee little FWD Series 75's in the mid-1980s got the elegance of proportion spot-on.

I have long since had a desire for a Series 75 sedan to put on my bucket list. It would be perfect for comfortable family road trips and touring. The models in the early '60s had the most elegant lines; and a uniquely glassy, airy feel, not like the dark, private enclaves of later examples.

I'd love to be able to afford a chauffeur, but unfortunately I'm the best driver I know, so I guess I'm stuck up front.

I honestly can't think of a weird limo idea. (Except party buses: they are ALL weird.) If it's done well, and keeps the proportion of the original design, there isn't a single car made today that wouldn't benefit from the addition of 18 inches or so of rear legroom, and a division with air vents and fold-out picnic tables.

Weirdest, most pointless limo conversion I can imagine? That's easy, a stretch Austin Martin Cygnet. (It also happens to be the most pointless badge engineered car.)

@ Bill T, +1 on the series 75!

What would I do with it? Tour van!
Way cooler than a clapped-out Econoline, and probably good for 20 MPG on the interstate.
You only really need a couple of mods to make it work. Weld-in some tie-down attachments so the amps are secure, make sure the back seats recline, add a flat screen.

Personally I think the strangest, but also one of the best, limos has to be the Chapron Citroen DS Presidential -

Yep, DS limo, with a formal saloon styled body.

Years ago I remember seeing a Lamborghini Diablo limo, although my guess it that is was a Diablo look-alike, I can't imagine anyone really hacking up a real Diablo to make it into a limo - but that aside, I got to thinking how impractical such a limo would be to actually try to ride in, since Diablos are so low I can't imagine there would be a whole lot of space in there - surely the claustrophobic need not apply.

But I guess if you value the "wow" factor above all else, I guess that's a limo for you.

How about the Jetway 707 airport limo, which is a super-stretched Oldsmobile Toronado with tandem rear wheels?

OT: I was going to be at the Studebaker national meet in South Bend on Thursday for the car show and parade, but my work schedule and various events have conspired to prevent me from going. If anyone has photos to share, please send them to the Car Lust mailbox.

Ooh the 1st generation Olds Toronado, the absolute, top of list, biggest waste of potential in North American automotive history.

That Barris Toro is awesome, as is the deGaulle DS. They look so "right." The proportions are so good, they don't even look that long, until you focus directly on the wheelbases. That's the difference between Art, and a hack-and-stretch job.

Remember the Honda Accord Limo?? LOL! They even made 2nd and 3rd generations before this 87.

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