Land Rover Discovery 3 TDV6

Model Year: 2005
Bought: May 2011
Kms:
135,000
Current Kms: 155,000
Price: $27,000

OK, I’ve probably always wanted a Range Rover, but sadly they have only 5 dedicated seats. My family requires the extra couple these days. Initially my choice seemed stark and somewhat depressing. Was I really going to consider a Tarago? Did I really want to stoop to a Chrylser Voyager, quite possibly the worst vehicle ever built, save for British Leyland’s Allegro of course.

Well no, I didn’t have to because these days there are a number of interesting choices. The Volvo XC90 for instance, or Honda’s Odyssey, Mazda’s CX9, Hyundai’s Sante Fe, Nissan’s Dualis, I could go on. But none of these were dream cars. To come close to my vision, it needed to offer something outstanding, needed decent looks, and though I couldn’t expect a 7 seater to perform well around a race track, I would take a fire track or a beach instead.

Enter the Land Rover Discovery 3. A car that in Australia polarizes the population like no other. Even Ford and Holden fans can agree on it. Its looks for starters. I used to think it reminded me of an old-school bread van before it started to grow on me. I guess when Nissan started making its Pathfinder to look like it, particularly its rear end, is when its styling for me hit home.

Then there’s the internal space. Its seat configurations are second to none and, when all are flattened, the load space is simply cavernous. There’s no loss of space due to an after thought third row hanging on the sides. It is so large it swallowed up an oversized 3-seater sofa with room to spare.

By: The Car Spy

Then there’s the engine. Granted it’s the older 2.7 litre turbo diesel that is perhaps not as powerful, refined or efficient as the new 3 litre in the series 4, but my word it’s a fantastic engine. Frugal on longer trips, sometimes returning less than 10 litres per 100 km for a car that weighs in at a tad over 2,400 kgs and fully laden with wife, 3 kids and all our camping gear. Around town it’s more like 13.5 but I can forgive it for that on Sydney’s clogged up arteries. And when you need to pull out sharpish the turbo kicks in and you’re away with a real shove in the back. Gone too are the days of a diesel sounding like something off a farm, certainly from within.

Then there’s the ride. The air suspension system has to be one of the most accomplished around and it is without doubt the most comfortable car I have ever owned. It’s so nice I almost forget my hatred for automatics as I waft here and there, serenely surveying the road ahead. Its all terrain system is a joy to use, as you simply select the setting for the road conditions ahead and let the car do the rest. Though so far I have only needed to use the sand option, I have witnessed others tackle every imaginable surface and it just works. I guess it is not an eight time winner of Australia’s best large 4×4 for nothing.

So then it’s a fantastic vehicle and it never goes wrong. Well not exactly and this is where Australia is polarized. Yes it does go wrong. Not smoking by the side of the road wrong, but its complex electronics are prone to gremlins. Take its suspension system for instance. Land Rover forums are full of problems with the car’s air suspension compressor. Warning lights and noises abound regularly it seems, particularly in the earlier models from 2005 to 2008. Mine being a late 2005 model is no different, but talking with the guys at Graeme Cooper, a wonderful Land Rover specialist I may add, its hardly surprising. The little compressor has the weight of the whole car resting gingerly on its shoulders and after a few years the poor thing wears out. A change costing around $1100 should sort it out, but others have not been so lucky. Diagnoses have included faulty wiring, faulty looms, corroded points and computer bugs. However, unlike the Disco 2, when such a problem would mean the car lowered on to its suspension rods and would become immovable, the Disco 3 merely continues at normal ride height and pings you incessantly about its problem. On the odd occasion that it does lower itself to its minimum, I have found that you simply stop, switch off, let it cool for a few minutes and the system rights itself.

I guess it’s a victim of its modernity. It knows when things are wearing out and tells you about it. Brake pads need changing, it pings you. Battery not charging, it pings you. Tyre pressures not perfect, it pings you. On long drives it sounds like you on a plane with the seat belt sign going on and off, and it becomes almost comforting. In other cars, say the Prado, there is no such system, and so you can be driving around without a care in world with the exact same problem as the Disco driver, the only difference being Prado man is ignorant of the problems and therefore thinks his car never goes wrong. Disco man is all too aware of them.

I’ve tried a friend’s Prado and I know it’s a great 4×4. It can go anywhere, like the Disco. It seats seven, like the Disco, but the sixth and seventh passenger had better be a person of restricted growth or a small child. In the Disco, fully-grown men of 6 feet or more can fit in the third row without a hint of discomfort. But as soon as the key was turned I knew which one I preferred. It was a case of: one is a tractor, the other is a limousine. The difference is that stark.

By: The Car Spy

I bought a high mileage vehicle fully aware I was purchasing someone else’s problem. At 235,000kms it was very high indeed for a 7 year old car, but all of those kays were motorway miles meaning the engine would have been spared the stop start of city driving. The previous owner had also liked to go bush bashing, though you’d never guess externally. Internally the bull dust told a different story. So I was prepared to pay for a few repairs and at $27,000 it seemed a steal. I had ensured the timing belt had been changed and the transmission was in good spirits and off I went.

So far, over 2 years, I have needed to replace the sway bars, both front and back ($50 and $90 respectively), and the serpentine belt ($56). The alternator gave up the ghost not long ago as well ($850). Yet these should go after so many kilometres, so I don’t feel too bad about them. The suspension compressor needs to be changed but I have put up with this warning for over a year now and will do something about it when it suits me. It certainly doesn’t need to be imminent. Servicing is not cheap on Land Rovers, but talking to a Mercedes GL owner recently, I began to feel a little smug. Oh and the cable that operates the tail-gate snapped and meant the rear door would not open. Luckily that was only a $90 repair bill. There was a $250 charge for taking the ignition barrel apart, clean and replace it, but that had nothing to do with the car and everything to do with a small lego sword my son saw fit to insert and attempt to start the car. Needless to say his name was mud for a day or so.

Along with small boys, tyres, I read on the web, are also a bugbear, due the 18inch rims and therefore difficult to source. After a brief search I found a solution and can recommend Kumo Roadventura’s, fine for road and sand and a snip at $250 a corner, half the price of the more expensive all terrain tyres. That being said, if I were intending to go bush bashing I would probably source some 17inch rims and fit a Cooper or Wrangler tyre.

For a Buyers Guide, visit the Research page

SAAB 900 Turbo 16v

SAAB 900 Turbo 16v 5 Speed Manual DSCF1171

Year Registered: 1991

Mileage when bought 132,000
Mileage when sold 247,000

Buying a car out of warranty and heading for its first 8th birthday, you know that certain repairs are likely to be needed. Clutches tend to go around the 100-150k mark, depending on how you drive and whether you like to rest your left foot on the pedal. Gearbox’s have a similar shelf life and so too for transmissions. If you buy well and have a full service history to guide you, you can mitigate some of these costs, but you know that eventually parts will wear out.

Saab’s were built by snow loving Swedes and designed to survive a head on collision with an elk. It is perhaps because of this the 900’s predecessor, the 99, was the only car allowed to race in the UK’s Rallycross series in the 80’s without the need for an aftermarket roll cage. The 900 Turbo inherited much of this strength and it is quite possibly one of the safest places to be in an accident, so long as you don’t launch through the windscreen or smash into the steering wheel for there are no such things as airbags. You could also do yourself a mischief with a poorly placed hot drink, for SAAB’s idea of a cup holder at the time extended to two shallow rings on the inside of the glove compartment. Handy for when stationary perhaps, but not at a canter.

DSCF1162This model was the last of the true SAAB’s, pre-General Motors and the hideous piece of machinery that superseded it in 1994. As with any vehicle, if maintained properly and regularly, it can and most probably will last very well. The 900 is no exception and a mileage in excess of 400k (644,000 kms) is entirely possible.

I ran the car for 13 years and a glance through the receipts showed some common threads. Engine mountings, CV joints and boots, and front disc’s were the most habitual repairs other than the exhaust mounting that must have been changed 7 or 8 times. Luckily the part was inexpensive but you took sleeping policemen with care for the consequences meant a day or so of creaking and clanging before a replacement could be found and you’d be convinced the shock’s had gone.

In time, costly repair bills did eventuate including a new clutch, transmission, radiator, brake master cylinder, exhaust system, steering column and a new headliner. However, these were parts that had to go at some time and then only once.

By using Hollobon’s rule of addition and subtraction, developed mostly on beer mats and coffee stained post it notes, the car cost me in the region of $1200-1300 per year including services but not including tyres. I tried to service the car every 6 months and for a time used cheaper repair garages such as Ultratune. I can’t knock their service but the parts did seem to have a shorter lifespan and ultimately paying slightly more at a specialist proved more efficient and the car drove far better.

 

TYPICAL COSTS

Transmission replacement  $2272

Clutch replacement  $1550

Radiator $ 275

Outer CV Boots kit (fitted) $ 215

Brake Master Cylinder (fitted) $ 260

Front Engine Mount  $ 190

Steering Rack Boots  $ 150

Starter Motor  $ 150

Steering Column $ 113

Exhaust Mount  $   10

DSCF1170RECOMMENDED SERVICE CENTRE

SAABTech – 3 Taronga Place, Mona Vale NSW 2103 – Tel 02 9999 2771

www.saabtech.com.au

RECOMMENDED FORUMS / KNOWLEDGE BASE

www.saabcentral.com

Here is a more comprehensive report from Simon Turner, to read more visit:

http://www.saabcentral.com/techhelp/c900/900_buyers_guide.php

Head gasket: Signs of water and/or oil leaks from the cylinder head. Unless you are a fairly competent mechanic you will be looking at around 10 hrs labour plus parts for a replacement. Expensive!

Gearbox:One of the major weak points in a Saab is the gearbox. You hear of gearboxes, both automatics and manuals giving up the ghost at 60,000 miles and others going on for over 300,000 miles. It all depends how it has been treated. Auto boxes coupled to Turbo motors probably have the worst reputation for letting go first. As a rule of thumb you can reckon on some major gearbox repairs between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. Again gearboxes can cost anywhere from £200.00 for a second hand box to £1000.00 for a fully recon box, plus the labour to fit it! The whole engine and gearbox has to be removed for repair or replacement. Things to look out for, difficult to engage gear, not engaging any one of the gears, a whining noise whilst travelling in 3rd or 5th and popping out of gear particularly reverse.

Turbo:Again the Turbo’s seems to have a life span from anywhere around 60,000 miles to 300,000 miles. As a general rule a turbo can be expected to last around 120,000 miles. The earlier oil cooled Turbo’s tend to go sooner than the later water cooled turbo’s but obviously again it depends how they have been treated. The earlier oil cooled Turbos require a lot more time to cool down. Again they are fairly costly to replace averaging around £300 to £400.

Timing/Cam chain:Expected lifespan around 150,000 miles. Listen for rattles from the engine especially when the engine is cold. You can replace the chain without removing the engine with a link chain, but it is recommended by Saab that the guides are replaced at the same time which does involve removing the engine.

Exhaust system:Might seem obvious but a complete exhaust system is a fairly expensive item to replace. If you are able to get under the car check the system for general condition and check the exhaust manifold for cracks, especially the 8v cars.

Oil and Water: Check the oil for signs of ‘mayo’ water leaking into the oil system and at the same time check the coolant for signs of oil getting into the water system. Both are usually signs of gasket failure.

Clutch:If the clutch pedal is taking just after you have started to release it then it would indicate that either the hydraulic clutch system has air in it and it needs bleeding or more than likely the seals have gone in the mastercylinder and it needs repairing or replacing. The other less likely reason is that there is wear in the pedal linkage allowing for freeplay in the pedal itself. Of course the clutch itself might need replacing at around £150.00 including labour.

Power Steering Rack:Try to get access to the underside of the vehicle to check the steering rack for leaks. When test driving the vehicle the steering should be light and responsive. If stiff when the car is cold and becomes more responsive as the car warms up, this is a sign of a rack on it’s last legs. Replacement racks are available for around £150.00 to £200.00 plus around three hours labour to fit.

C/V joints: When test driving a car with steering on full lock and you hear a click, click, click sound this is a sign of worn CV joints. Replacement joints cost around £70.00 plus a couple of hours labour to fit.

Ball joints: If you have the facility available. check the ball joints. Although fairly cheap and easy to replace they can lead to bad handling and uneven tyre wear. Listen for signs of loud knocking.

Shock absorbers & Springs: There should be no ‘spring’ in the suspension. If there is then the shock absorbers need replacement at around £40.00 each. They should last around 100,000 miles. Also check the rear springs as they tend to sag on older higher mileage cars especially ones that might have been used for towing.

Heating system:Check the operation of the heater and for water leaks in the left footwell. Water leaks indicate the heater control valve needs replacement. No heat, or if you are unable to turn the heat off would indicate a problem with the heater controls.

Sagging Headliner:A common problem which to be fixed properly requires the complete removal of the headliner shell and application of new material and replacement. The lining and adhesive are resonably priced.

Central Locking:Central locking can play up for a number of reasons.

Heated Seats: Quite often on higher mileage Saabs the heated seats have ceased to work. This is usually due to a broken element in the seat itself which involves removing the seat for repair.

Radiator: Might seem like an obvious one, but make sure you check the radiator for leaks and general condition. Cost is around £150.00 to have it replaced.

Electric window winder:This seems to crop up quite often and can range from just requiring a good lubrication to the replacement of both the window motor and regulator. Fairly easy to replace yourself and inexpensive if using second hand parts.

Body: Although generally rust free, the 900’s do have some common places where rust can appear. Check the bottom insides of doors, wheel arches and petrol cap cover in particular. Also around the base of the spoiler in the Turbo and along the inside bottom edges of the doors.

 

Audi Quattro: The Original

audi ur quattro

The Ur-Quattro

The Ur-Quattro, or Original Quattro, arrived in 1980 and took rallying to a whole new dimension, dominating the sport for over two years. It was the first rally car to take advantage of new four-wheel drive rules and spawned panic amongst its rivals to catch up. This reached fever pitch with the advent of Class B rallying between 1982 and 1986 when such monsters as the Ford RS200, Metro RS4, Lancia Delta S4 and of course the Sport Quattro S1 arrived.

These cars travelled so fast along winding, slippery, often mountainous roads they appeared to defy laws of gravity and adhesion. To give you an idea of how fast Class B became, Henri Toivonen once famously tested his Delta S4 at the Estoril Grand Prix track with a lap time that would have put him sixth on the F1 grid, in a rally car. Turbo’s could be boosted to 5 bars or more and horsepower easily eclipsed 500 in race form. 1000 was apparently quite possible. Now this amount of power is all well and good in a race involving long straights and steady left handers, say NASCAR for instance, or something similarly boring. But on a forest track covered in mud, ice, snow, water, gravel and more often than not involving hairpin bends over blind crests? I am sure you get my drift, no pun intended, these were accidents waiting to happen.

Sadly all too soon for Toivonen in 1986, who flew off a thin strip of tarmac high up a Corsican hillside at speeds barely imaginable, taking his co-driver with him. Overnight the era of the Rally Supercar ended and these powerful machines became obsolete.

However, one sport’s loss became the consumer’s benefit with the opportunity to emulate our rallying heroes by purchasing one of these cars that were only very slightly modified for road use. Lancia sold its Delta as the Integrale, Ford as the RS200 and

Audi with its Quattro. In its original guise it came with a 2,144 cc, 10 valve turbocharged in-line 5 pot engine, or WR as it became known, and it is this example I am about to jump into.

audi quattro

In fact I am about to drive a car whose original owner was none other than

a former Australian Formula 1 driver, and winner of the Le Mans 24 hours, Vern Schuppan.

Sitting low in a its dated but hugely comfortable leather chair, you notice the wheel is set slightly left of centre but the pedals are perfectly positioned directly in front of you and spaced ideally for heel and toeing. No doubt Vern would have been a dab hand at left foot braking, but with Ian from Shannons sitting beside me there was no chance of that today.

The dash ahead of me is pure Audi of old, no different to an 80CD I owned many years ago or a mate’s 90 Quattro. Turning the key and hearing that 5 pot rumble immediately took me back to my teen years and my yearning to own one of these iconic cars. Depressing the clutch I half expect a work out for my thigh, but not so. It’s as light as any modern day car and snicking it into first heralded the typical mechanical clunky feel that all Audi’s had at the time. Not particularly smooth nor solid, but its an Audi, they don’t go wrong.

Pulling away, the sound emanating from those twin pipes still shames any contemporary V8 and considering the car is now 33 years old you’d expect the odd rattle and perhaps some loss in power. Blipping the throttle it doesn’t sound much has past it by, but the lag is more pronounceable than I thought. I have to remind myself this is normal of all early turbos, even of supercars.

Unfortunately the back roads around Artarmon are busy with trucks and traffic lights, but with a hill and some space in front of me, I floor it as much as I dare, half expecting Ian to tut in disapproval. It doesn’t come, and the question concerning its power is answered with a strong surge in second up to 60. Third is some distance away, surprisingly, but fourth is a quick pull back and we’re travelling smoothly, bathed in its inline din.

Sounds good, I shout to Ian. He agrees and I think both of us wish for a local track to delve down and put it through its paces.

 

audi quattro

Sadly the test drive is all too short but it is obvious this car has been well looked after. It rides the atrocious concrete slabs, synonymous of this area, with barely a shudder of disapproval and shakes off the inconvenience of mini roundabouts with the nonchalence of a gorilla swatting a bug. The last one I come to I drop down to second and gave it some welly, with window down and a wall across from me, that noise, the drama, just makes me want to drive this thing further and faster. Shame its not in red though.

The car is being auctioned at Shannons of Artarmon on May 6. Visit http://www.shannons.com.au/auctions for more information.

 

RESEARCH

Check out the Research category for more information about typical costs, repairs and what to look out for, click here:

http://wp.me/P3rCxt-9Y

Recommended Service Centres:

Eagle & Raymond Automotive  – 1/14 Brennan Close, Asquith NSW 2077‎m

(02) 9477 1500
 audi quattro bulge

 

Audi Ur Quattro

According to Ron Eagle of Eagle and Raymond Automotive, Quattro’s in Australia tend not to go especially wrong.

For instance, he has never had to deal with any Turbo issues or even replaced one of his customers clutches. That may say more about the owners than  the car, but it does go to show that even though these cars are now 20 to 30 years old, Audi built them to last.

I am indebted to Bob Jones, probably my only reader and therefore a hugely important person, for sending me the link to Octane Magazine, for some excellent information on what to look out for.

Externally we are rather lucky in Australia that rot, either on the panels or beneath the car, is unlikely, unless of course your Quattro was shipped in from Europe, probably the UK due to right hand drive, after a few years of its life. If it had to endure a number of wintry, salt laden roads corrosion could have set in.

In the current absence of personally collated local data, more of which will be added soon, Richard Dredge’s article for Octane Magazine sums it all up nicely.

The quattro’s in-line five-cylinder engine was built in three forms. First came the 10-valve 2144cc WR unit, followed by the MB in 1987 (2226cc, 10 valves) and the RR (2226cc, 20 valves) from 1989. Most troublesome is the WR, while most reliable is the RR – although the latter unit is also the priciest to buy parts for. That leaves the MB, which gives the best balance of affordability and reliability.

Engine rebuilds are costly but, if looked after, a WR unit will despatch 150,000 miles before it needs attention; expect at least another 50,000 miles from an MB or RR. Hopefully the owner will have changed the oil every 5000 miles, using a synthetic lubricant.They will also have used only Audi oil filters (WR engines have two), which have non-return valves to prevent oil starvation of the top end at start-up.

To allow a low bonnet line the powerplant is canted over, leading to pistons and their rings eroding the cylinder wall and causing it to become oval. It takes a long time for significant wear to occur but, once it has, things get expensive. It’s simplest to find a decent used unit; they’re not plentiful but can be sourced through the owners’ clubs for around £750.

Key WR weak spots include a failed turbocharger, given away by poor performance and blue exhaust smoke – the problem is largely solved on later cars by the use of a watercooled unit. Also listen for ticking from the exhaust manifold as the engine warms up: this indicates a cracked manifold, and new replacements are unobtainable. To check for this you must start the car from cold; if it’s already warm, the manifold will already have expanded.

If you’re testing a 10-valve car that’s unable to run cleanly, it’s probably because of perished or split rubber intercooler hoses. If the rubber is damaged, it’s straightforward to replace them; they cost £30-170 each and there are three of them.

There aren’t any problems specific to just the MB or the RR engine, but there are some which might crop up in any of the three types of unit (and particularly the WR). The first is worn valve guides and hardened valve seals, given away by blue exhaust smoke on the over-run. If the engine has been thrashed, a top-end rebuild could be needed in just 60,000 miles, costing up to £1300.

Look behind the offside corner of the front air dam, at the oil cooler and the unions on its pipes. These corrode, allowing the engine to lose its oil and potentially to seize. Get to it in time and the bill is £200 plus four hours’ labour; leave it and the bill could be £4000 for a full rebuild.

If the engine runs badly or won’t start at all, take a look at the turbo boost gauge. If this gives a permanently high reading it’s because the inlet manifold pressure sensor has packed up; replacements are £150, available only from The Quattro Workshop.

The Bosch fuel-injection system is reliable but the fuel pump can give trouble if the car hasn’t been used much. It’s easy to spot because the engine won’t start but will turn over. A new pump at £150 is the only solution.

Whichever model you’re looking at, ask when the cambelt was last changed. This should be done every 45,000 miles or five years, but it’s not straightforward. The crankshaft securing nut needs a 27mm socket and a torque wrench that goes up to a massive 450Nm (331lb ft).

Transmission

Despite the quattro transmission’s complexity, it’s incredibly durable. Synchromesh may have taken a beating if the gearbox has been abused, but this is easy to spot by trying to change ratio quickly when the box is still cold; crunching means the synchromesh is weak. As a rebuild is nearly £1000, most owners live with it or fit a used gearbox for around £200 – plus 10-12 hours’ labour to fit.

Clutches typically last 150,000 miles unless they have been abused. Accelerate smartly in each gear and see if the clutch slips; if it does, all is not lost as specialists can supply an original equipment Sachs unit for £170. It’s possible to buy even cheaper clutch kits, but don’t be tempted – the Sachs one has proved the most reliable
of the lot.

Finish by checking the diff locks haven’t seized up. They’re vacuum operated and you should ensure that the lights on the centre console go on when the locks are engaged and, just as importantly, that they go out when disengaged. Usually, reluctance to do either means the control units just need freeing off and lubricating.

Suspension, steering and brakes

Quattros tend to be thrown about, wearing out the suspension bushes, which also have a hard time because of the quattro’s torque and tyre grip. The front and rear sub-frame bushes bear the brunt, along with the wishbone bushes, so checking these is essential. Look for split wishbone bushes – a new set is £50 and it’s an easy swap.

If a 20v quattro has been really chucked around, it could be suffering from cracks down the nearside of the rear subframe; a replacement is £800. That’s why most owners use the same from a lesser quattro (such as an Audi 80), sourced from a scrapyard for £35 or so.

The steering should be sharp, with plenty of feel. If not, it’s probably because the wheels are out of alignment, leading to uneven tyre wear. Each corner can be adjusted for camber and toe in/toe out, and it should be checked annually by a quattro specialist.

Moaning from the front wheels as the steering wheel is turned on the move means fresh bearings are required; it’s not possible to detect play by feeling for it while the car is jacked up. New bearings cost £30 per corner and they usually last around 80,000 miles. Replacing them is a DIY job if you’ve got access to a press to get the old units out.

The wheels can get damaged on the inside of the rim, because of their width. With the car on axle stands, get underneath and spin the wheel, looking to see if it runs true. If it’s badly damaged it will need renewing – at over £300 apiece from Audi. It’s more cost-effective to buy secondhand ones and have them refurbished.

On MB and RR models, pull the connectors off the low servo pressure warning switch mounted on the brake servo. With the engine switched off, but the ignition on, attach a continuity tester. Press the brake pedal repeatedly on a two- to three-second cycle – if the switch closes after five or fewer depressions the system’s hydraulic accumulator needs changing, at £250.

The rear brakes can give problems, especially if the car isn’t used much, as the handbrake’s self-adjuster piston rod seizes. The best cure is to fit reconditioned brake calipers at £120 per side (double this on the RR).

Bodywork, electrics and trim

Thanks to plenty of zinc plating on most cars, exterior panels are fairly durable. Pre-1985 quattros, with no galvanised panels, can show signs of localised rust even if they’ve never been pranged. From 1985, various panels such as the wings and bonnet were galvanised – but it’s not possible to say with certainty which panels were galvanised and when, as Audi mixed and matched. Until 1987 the bootlid was made of steel, but after this date it was plastic.

Any post-1984 quattro that hasn’t been scraped should be largely rust-free as at least some of its panels will be galvanised; post-1988 examples are the most durable of all. Original factory stickers on the underside of the bonnet are a clue to an untouched car, as these decals haven’t been available for years.

Sills can rot on the earliest quattros, along with the underside of each door and the wheelarches. All quattros need their wings analysed – especially their seams, which often harbour rust as a result of poor accident repairs. These models were handbuilt at the factory so panel fit should be good on an original car.

Make sure all the instrumentation is working, especially if it’s the digital system fitted from 1983. Then switch the ignition on and check that all the warning lights illuminate – bulbs may have been removed to disguise major problems.

Pre-1983 examples have a simple wiring loom, while later ones don’t. But the latter models are also more reliable because the components were of a higher quality. The most common problem with the earliest cars is corroded connections. Before starting the difficult task of tracing dodgy circuits, however, take a look at the fusebox: the board in it can crack and break the connections. A new one is £50.

On WR models, the synthesised voice should spring into action if the ‘Check’ button is held depressed while the ignition is switched on. Then make sure that all the equipment is working – although it’s rare to find functional heated seats and air-con, as replacement parts are obsolete. Also, replacement wing-mounted electric aerials are no longer available and neither are substitutes.

New interior trim is extinct, so it’s worth paying a premium for a car with a really good cabin. Most parts are available on a used basis, though.

Conclusion

Bridging the gap between classic and modern, the quattro can theoretically be used every day or just for the occasional Sunday run. However, the spares situation is currently poor, with many parts available only secondhand, so clocking up a high mileage could prove very expensive.

Things are less of an issue if you’re buying a mint example, but make sure that’s what you really are getting. Despite the quattro offering huge levels of handling, grip and roadholding, there are plenty of examples that have been crashed heavily. As a result, you must ensure the bodyshell isn’t twisted and that the rustproofing hasn’t been compromised. Uneven panel gaps and strange tyre wear patterns will normally give away the former.

Buying the best you can afford is a good mantra for any motor, but especially so for the quattro. A sorted example is one of the most complete cars ever built – but purchase a dog and you’ll have a serious money pit on your hands.

 

SAAB 900 Turbo 16v

Final Drive: SAAB 900 Turbo 16v

Model Year: 1991

Bought for: $16,995 in Sept 1999

Kms: 135,000

Sold for: $3,000 in Dec 2012

Kms: 247,000

Thirteen years is a long time in partnership with anything. It’s no less emotive than when it’s with a car and the split up has become inevitable. In my case not by choice either which only amplifies the pain.

DSCF1155

This is not just any old second car, occasionally rolled out at weekends to annoy those who actually have a purpose to their journey. No, this, for much of its relationship with me, has been the every-day-use car. One that has never let me down, ignoring that one occasion with the wife that I put down to a girl thing; neither wanted to be usurped as being the most important female in my life.

In saying that, is she really female? This is a phenomena that is new to me. I’ve never been one to assign a gender to my cars, but since I started the trials of selling, I’ve been turned by a rather passionate lady extolling my car’s many delicate virtues and it struck me that, much like my wife, if treated tenderly she did indeed respond well. So it has sort of stuck.

There’s undoubtedly something of the gut pain one has when wrenched away from loved ones. Or, as was often in my case, wrenching themselves away at a brisk trot, back turned and facing a mother imploring her to run faster.

But anyway, I’ll definitely miss her, the smell of leather and fuel as soon as you open the door. The creak of hide as you slide into its still very comfy drivers seat. The idiosyncracy of its ignition placement. That whine of the turbo as it spools into life. The joy of the second gear kick-down. For sure I’m going to miss the manual box, clunky and long travelled it may be, but with it comes involvement, and a reason to drive smoothly and efficiently at pace. It forces you to take note of the road, else be dragged into the abyss of boredom and laziness that autos and other latter day gadgetries afford a man. However smooth and excellent they maybe today, in my opinion an automatic will always be trumped by a manual for sheer connection, to the road as well as to your driving style. All drivers should be forced to take the test in a manual is what I say. The skills learned and abilities improved can only benefit our urban society.

But I digress.

AAS 60C, or arse-sixty-see as I’ve taken to calling her, a 1991 Saab 900 Turbo 16v, pre-GM ownership. For a car that’s age is beginning to nudge the idea of a quarter century, it still looks good. The original paintwork has taken to the Aussie climate rather well and it gleams at me in the morning sun. Looking at it objectively, it is in good nick this one. No major exterior signs of any collision or corrosion. She makes me proud. Its engine is strong enough for couple more hundred thousand klicks, if regularly serviced too.

The smell of 98 octane fuel is a pleasant one as you close the door, alarming initially I grant you but I came to adore it, hooked you might say. I sit motionless for a second drinking it in. The cockpit’s ever so slightly biased toward the driver and its beginning to look its age in aesthetics, but functionally all still sound. The CD is an after market affair that works well enough but the lights have mostly died out for night time use, so it then becomes a hit and miss affair. And there’s a rattle in the ventilation system that has always been there and can only be cancelled out by exactly trimming the air duct controls. Idiosyncratic you might say.

I reach down to my left and insert the key in the centre consol. It starts energetically with maybe a hint of chattering tappets. I let the oil work itself around the engine before I pull away.

Let’s face it, this is a twenty two year old car, twenty three if you add the year it was built prior to registration, so the creaks and rattles that come through the facia and rear quarter have to be expected. Much often turns out to be for ancillary reasons; a clunking seat belt holder for instance or a loose parcel shelf. Nonetheless this is an old car and should be treated with some care, just in case. That being said, in the main it still feels tight.

The steering wheel is so much smaller and skinnier than more contemporary cars and loses nothing for it. The feel you receive through its thinly padded rim is one that inspires trust and respect. And it’s the same minimalism throughout the cabin, for there are no signs of airbags, cup holders or blue tooth connections in here. It’s because of this that what looks small on the outside, a latter day Ford Mondeo dwarfs it, it almost makes up for when inside, thanks to the absence of all that safety rubbish. Saab, as Top Gear showed us, had not forgotten its safety responsibilities, damn near wrapping the whole vehicle in a roll cage.

DSCF1189

Not that a generation junior would agree with me after a first acquaintance with the brakes. They are certainly not as well assisted as anything they would have learned to drive in, but once you get used to the extra effort and travel required, they are effective enough.

At the lights, if the revs are kept up it pulls away strongly and still a match for most V6’s. But woe-betide if your timing is out, the lag will reduce you to a snails pace for an interminable few seconds before finally and, satisfyingly, hitting its sweet spot with such panache that you can almost forgive it.

Find a clear, winding stretch of road however and it hunkers down at the back and acts as if its rear wheel driven. If you get your line right through a series of sweeping bends, using the gears to full effect and taking care to keep the engine working in the power band, it flows as sweetly as any spirited 5 door wagon of today. It’s the sense of involvement you feel with a car of this era though that really shines. In a few years you’d be hard pushed to find a new car that comes with a manual transmission, and we as drivers will be the worse for it.

But you don’t drive this car like a sports car, no, she’s too boat-like, as my GTi driving friend once remarked. It’s more of a Grand Tourer. More sedate but rapid when the moment comes. Its ability to overtake in the 50-70 kph range is still a marvel and one that brings a smile to your face.

DSCF1182

That said, when faced with a series of speed bumps, its low stance makes you wince every time you scrape over some of the more severe ones. Its ride is a tad firm for Sydney road conditions but thanks to its excellent seats you’re never troubled that much.

I drive for fifty kilometres and notice I’ve gone through a quarter of a tank, so spirited driving does come at cost. But for a price of an expensive handbag this fair lady comes with a lot of bang for your buck.

Over the years I tried a few places to maintain my Saab, from Ultratune to the original dealer, whose mechanics as it happened set up their own garage a few years after I bought the car. It was there, at Saabtech, I found real maintenance value. Its all well and good saving on a service by going to a local non specialist, but ultimately using Saab experts paid off in quality and a better driving experience.

For detailed costs visit the research link: 

http://wp.me/P3rCxt-av