My Saab 99 Heating System Repairs

As some might know, I recently purchased a 1979 Saab 99.  I have spent the last couple of months going through the car assessing and fixing up things that need to be done or I would like to be done.  This has been not easy as I had hoped.  I have found out that there are three ways to do things – the right way, the wrong way, and the Saab way.

Saab 99 July 2014 (1)

My Saab 99

The other thing that I am beginning to think is that in the Saab world, the Saab 99 appears to be the forgotten car.  I think that getting parts for the much older Saab 96 model or the newer Saab 900 model would be much easier.

When I bought the car, the previous owner told me that the defrost system did not work, but that he had not looked at it and did not know what the problem was.  I assumed that the problem might be a problem with the fan.

When I began to investigate this after I bought the Saab 99, I noticed that there was something missing on the air distribution side of the heating system.  I did not know what the missing piece or pieces looked like.  This made it difficult when I called up salvage yards (BTW there are not many Saab 99 cars in salvage yards these days) asking for a part or parts for the heating system that I had little knowledge of.  After some time, I was able to determine that there was one major air conduit going from one side of the car to the other that I did not have.  Surprisingly, I found the part about 30 miles from my house.


The Missing Saab 99 Air Duct

When I saw the missing part, I wondered how anyone would forget to re-install this part!  It’s not like it would have slipped under the front seat and have been forgotten.  And why would you chose not to re-install this part, thereby foregoing the ability to drive the Saab 99 in the winter.

Starting with an intact dash/instrument panel, this air conduit has been very difficult to install.  The conduit fits high under the dash, therefore I had to remove all of the switches on the dash, as I had to get over most of the under-dash wires.  I also had to lower the steering column.  The picture below shows my temporary steering wheel support system using my ice hockey stick just before I dropped the steering column.


A Work In Progress

The portion of the lower dash with the fake wood needed to be removed as well.  I also had to add some hose clamps to the flexible air lines going to the side windows.  Last night I was finally able to get the air conduit installed.  This required patience, determination, and profanity.

I can now focus on getting the electrics in good shape and sorting out the reason why the horn does not work.  I am also preparing the interior for the installation of rally navigation equipment.   I hope to get my Saab 99 on the road soon.

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4 Responses to My Saab 99 Heating System Repairs

  1. Jeff Martin says:

    Steve, what a beautiful Saab. There is a shop in Newbury Massachusetts called Internal Combustion that might be if some interest to you. They specialize in Saab. Last time I was up there they had several parts cars. I do believe I saw one or two 99s.

    • Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for the info. I have been in touch with an impressive Saab specialty shop called Conntech, in Warwick, Rhode Island. I bought a nice set of Ronal wheels from them. Also the fellow that I bought the car from works at that shop. Also a nice fellow.
      I think that I have all of my needed parts now and it is a matter of re-assembly. My goal is not to create a show car, but a car that I can take out in TSD car rallies and not fuss over.
      Thanks again for the info!
      Steve McKelvie

  2. Jay Nemeth-Johannes says:

    The other contact you should have on speed dial is Tim Winker. Tim ran the Saab club for years and has more old parts stashed than you can imagine. He rallyed a 99 that looked just like yours for 20 years. I think he finally scrapped it out a year or so ago. He currently owns a dozen and runs 2 900s in LeMons races.

    • Hi Jay,
      It is interesting that you mentioned Tim Winker’s Saab 99. A little over ten years ago I did some TSD rallying with Jon Butzke. Jon owned a former stage rally rally Saab 99 that had been owned by Tim Winker. And it was the same color as mine. I remember the first time Jon and I rallied together, I met Jon at his house in Connecticut. He opened up his garage and said which car do you want to take for the rally? He had a Lotus Espirit and the very well used and roughed up Saab 99. I said that I preferred the Saab 99, so we used it. We had to run in the “No Odo” Class because the car’s odometer had been taken out by Tim, I guess. I did a lot of rallying with Jon, but he was in the US Navy and he got transferred out to the west coast and I lost track of him.
      I also competed in some SCCA ProRally stage rally events with a fellow named James Fox. James had a Saab 900 that was quite fast. Later James had a bad accident while we were both competing (in separate cars) in Rally New York. The last I saw of James, they were taking him to the hospital by helicopter. James recovered but his stage rally days ended.
      Steve McKelvie

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