Friday, January 30, 2004

In thinking about the new 9-3 Sport Sedan, I recently did a comparison with my very first SAAB--a 1984 4-door, 5-speed 900 turbo (924M). Both are 4-door (with trunk) turbocharged sport sedans. When I was through with my comparison, I was amazed at the similarities, and impressed with the value of the 2004 car vs. its 1984 progenitor. For this comparison, I chose the 9-3 Linear with two options: sunroof and cold weather package. My 1984 900T had one option: cruise control. Here's how they compare (the 1984 spec will always appear first):
8-valve turbocharged 2 liter 135 hp engine / 16-valve turbocharged 2 liter 175 hp engine. 5-speed manual transmission (both). Solid front brake discs / ventilated front brake discs. Non-ABS / ABS. No TCS or stability program /standard TCS and stability program. No anti-sway bars / front and rear anti-sway bars. Solid rear axle / independent rear suspension. Manual steel sunroof / electric glass sunroof. Dealer-installed cruise control / standard cruise control. Cloth seats, automatic heaters / leather seats, adjustable seat heaters. AM/FM cassette / AM/FM CD. 15" alloy wheels with h-rated Pirelli tires: both. Fold down rear seat / split fold down rear seat. Power windows and locks: both. No alarm or remote door locks / integrated theft protection and door remote. No trip computer or information display /programmable information display and trip computer. Intermittent wipers / variable speed intermittent wipers. Electric antenna /integrated antenna. Halogen sealed beams, no washers / integrated headlamps, replaceable halogen bulbs and washers. No air bags / lots of airbags. No active head restraint / Active head restraint. Key in the floor: both. No cup holders / cupholders! No center console / center console. Three spoke steering wheel / three spoke steering wheel with an air bag and radio controls. No floor mats / standard floor mats. 12 month warranty / 48 month 50K mile warranty. Service intervals every 5000 miles / service intervals at roughly 15,000 miles. Free 1000 mile service / free 3 year 36 moth scheduled maintenance.
After 20 years, you'd expect many of the improvements I listed. What really surprised me, though, is the pricing on these cars. The 1984 sold for $18,000. And in those days, there was no discounting (I know, I was selling them back then). Today's car has a sticker price of $28,000, and you know that you can get that discounted. That makes the 2004 a remarkable value in my eyes, when you consider the additional content and inflation, as modest as it has been, over 20 years. I drove my 1984 for 225,000 miles. Last I saw it it had 245,000 miles. I have no doubt the 2004 will hold up as well or better.
I wonder what the comparisons will be like when I next write a comparison like 2024

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