News Culture

Someone Paid $145,000 for a 1987 Saab 900 on Bring a Trailer

You can't put a price tag on sentimentality.

It seems that every week there’s a new Bring a Trailer auction in which a seemingly ordinary car sells for an extraordinary price. The latest example was a 1987 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible, a nice car but nothing inherently special, which sold for a whopping $145,000.

At first glance, it might seem unusual that someone would sped Porsche 911 GTS-money on a 35 year old Saab. Dig a bit deeper, though, and it becomes a bit more understandable.

For starters, it’s a true time capsule of a car. With only 246 miles on its odometer, it may have only been driven a handful of times at most in the past three and a half decades. It’s also in perfect museum-worthy condition. There’s nary an imperfection to be found. Black interior plastics from the ’80s usually age like milk but this one was obviously kept out of the sun for the vast majority of its life because its cabin has aged perfectly. After looking at the incredibly in-depth photos from the seller, I’d actually be surprised if any of the buttons were ever pressed or if any of the dials were ever turned.

The body is in perfect condition, too. There isn’t even any dust in the door or trunk jambs. It’s a remarkably well-kept car, one that’s sure to make Saab enthusiasts salivate. But it’s still just a Saab 900 Turbo. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty neat car, with a punchy turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, manual gearbox, front-wheel drive, an aviation-inspired interior, and a drop-top driving experience. That turbocharged, 16-valve engine made 160 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque when it was new and the 900 Turbo was said to be a fun little car back in its day. But could it really be worth more than the upcoming Corvette Z06?

To be honest, it probably isn’t worth that much money to most people but it is to the winning bidder, whose sentimentality is what drove the winning bid so high. According to the winning bidder, who goes by the username Ljals15, a Saab 900 Turbo Convertible was his first car and the car he took his wife on their first date in. That sort of sentimentality is hard to put a price tag on, especially if you’ve got the money to spend.

One of the big issues with buying such a low-mileage, well-kept car is that driving it even a little bit instantly diminishes its value. Its perfect condition is what makes it so financially valuable. Every mile driven is money lost. However, thankfully, it seems the Saab’s new owner is willing to drive it at least once a year. “Will drive it every anniversary with my wife at least,” he commented. Funnily enough, it seems the sentiment meant more to the buyer than it did to his wife. Apparently, his wife only gave her blessing for $80,000 and he spent almost double that.

I get it, though. When my son was two years old, he had a favorite matchbox car, a yellow classic Mini Cooper, and he used to give it to me when I’d travel for work. It was his version of saying good luck and it always meant a lot to me. Ever since, I’ve desperately wanted a classic Mini in yellow, just like his matchbox car, and I’d probably pay stupid money for a similar one if I could afford to. So spending $145,000 on a 35 year old Saab might seem unusual to you but sometimes you just can’t put a price tag on the way a car makes you feel.