This identification guide has been written for the Saab 99 Turbo, including the Combi Coupe, 2 door sedan and 5 door hatch. The 99 Turbo is widely regarded for its early adoption of turbocharging, and marked the beginning of Saab’s future passenger car styling philosophy, making it a unique and desirable vehicle.

As the Saab 99 Turbo gathers increasing interest, prices are starting to reflect the same. With the car being based on the standard Saab 99, there are specific features which must be assessed by a purchaser in order to identify a genuine 99 Turbo. This guide provides a summary of the various items to look for when identifying these cars, including the external features, internal features, paint colours/codes, mechanical features and the correct engine and chassis numbers.

Production numbers: 10,607 turbo models were built (includes all body styles combined).

Period of manufacture: 1977 – 1982 (only available in the U.S. during 1978).

Please note, this guide has been written based on a variety of online sources and enthusiast input. You should not rely on this guide to make any purchasing decision and we make no representation that all information is accurate. You should always seek independent professional advice when looking to purchase a unique car. If you have additional information, photographs or corrections you believe need to be made to this page, please contact us by clicking the button at the top of this page, or comment below.


1. Exterior Features - Saab 99 Turbo

The Saab 99 Turbo had the following external features, which make a good starting point in identification of an original or genuine car:

  • Three body styles were available:

- Three-door hatchback (otherwise known as the Combi Coupe, represented the majority of cars produced, and was the only body style available in the U.S. for the 99 Turbo).

- Two-door coupe (1,000 two-door coupes were built for rally homologation. This included a special edition available in Marble White and Acacia Green Metallic sold in the Swedish, German, Swiss and Dutch markets. This car was also available in non-special edition form in other colours including Aquamarine Blue and Black.)

- Five-door sedan (produced in Cardinal Red only during 1978, with approximately 100 units built).

  • Unique alloy wheels called the “Inca” were applied to the 99 Turbo. These had a finned like design, distinguishing the Turbo from other models in the 99 range.
  • U.S. spec cars had quad headlights (also used for Saab’s rally cars). Euro and other market cars had the standard one piece headlamps.
  • Vertical sweeping headlight wipers fitted to Euro spec headlights only.
  • Black plastic bumpers front and back (as opposed to early 99 chrome bumpers).
  • Black lower front air dam spoiler / splitter.
  • Rear spoiler mounted directly below the back window, or option for a smaller edge of boot lid spoiler on 2 door sedan.
  • “Turbo” badge on lower rear edges of bonnet (just in front of the A pillar) was applied in all markets.
  • The “Turbo” front grille badge was more commonly fitted to U.S. spec cars, but also appeared in other markets, albeit less often.
  • “SAAB TURBO” decals on the side sill panels (lower sides of the car) were applied to many of the 1978 U.S. market cars. This is now a popular aftermarket modification in all markets.
  • Early models had chrome trim on the side window surrounds. This can be seen on cars up to 1979. From what we can ascertain, during 1979, the chrome trim on the windows was deleted in favour of an anodised black finish.
2. Interior Features - Saab 99 Turbo
  • The attached chart confirms the Saab 99 Turbo paint colours and associated interior trim colours, which included red velvet cloth on maroon vinyl (most common), green velvet cloth on dark green vinyl and blue velvet cloth on dark blue vinyl.
  • The shape of the seats / headrests changed in 1980. See images for a better description of the differences.
  • Rear headrests were an option, and came in two styles as shown.
  • Unique three-spoke steering wheel with a large triangular padded hub.
  • Boost gauge on top of dashboard (with white orange and red zones showing boost level), which sat next to the steering wheel.
  • Timber laminate trim running across lower dashboard.
  • Sunroof was standard on all 99 Turbos.
  • Heated driver’s seat was standard on all 99 Turbos.
  • To confirm the vehicle’s original trim, the trim code is located in the engine bay on either a sticker or a riveted metal tag, depending on the year of the car. These tags / stickers were located at the back left hand side of the engine bay, on the inner mudguard, just in front of the windscreen (see images). This code can probably be interpreted by your Saab car club. Unfortunately we have not been able to verify interior codes, but please contact us if you have the specific Saab 99 Turbo trim codes, so we can update this section. 

-  Cars up to and including 1980: Trim code was printed on a metal plate.

-  Cars from 1981 onward: Trim code was printed on a blue/white sticker. Note, these may have peeled of with age, or otherwise be missing if the vehicle has been restored.

3. Paint Colours - Saab 99 Turbo

The Saab 99 Turbo was available in the following paint colours / codes (also detailed in the attached chart):

  • Black (Code BK01).
  • Cardinal Red Metallic (Code R06).
  • Anthracite Grey Metallic (Code SK02).
  • Sterling Silver Metallic – otherwise called Silver Crystal (Code SK01).
  • Acacia Metallic Green (Code 148B).
  • Marble White – only early test cars (Code 152G).
  • Aquamarine Blue Metallic (Code 137B).


Location of paint code:

The paint code on the 99 Turbo is either printed on a metal tag, or a sticker located in the engine bay, depending on when the car was built. Naturally, with the age of these cars, the stickers are often no longer present, and are usually removed if a car has been restored.

Up to and including 1980: Body colour tags (metal tags riveted to the inner guard) were usually located at the back LHS engine bay, on the inner front left mudguard just in front of the firewall/windscreen.

Cars from 1981 onward: Body colour stickers were usually located at the back LHS engine bay, on the inner front left mudguard just in front of the firewall/windscreen. See images for a better description of the location, and the blue example sticker provided.

4. Chassis Number / VIN - Saab 99 Turbo

The chassis number format for a Saab 99 Turbo will be determined by its date of manufacture, as the format was changed from the year 1981 onward. Both chassis number formats are outlined below, and can be decoded based on the attached tables in the images.

Location of the chassis number:

The chassis number on a Saab 99 Turbo will appear on the chassis plate in the engine bay, and is also stamped into the body of the car, underneath the rear left seat cushion (on the crossmember that supports the rear seat). The location of the chassis plate in the engine bay will differ depending on the year of the car, as outlined below, complemented by the attached images. Note, U.S. cars have an additional chassis plate located on the B piller (door slam panel), on the drivers side. An example of the U.S. VIN plate is provided in the images.

  • Up to and including 1980: A thin chassis plate was located on the inner front left mudguard (near the windscreen). These cars had an 11 digit VIN code, and the VIN on these cars will not in itself confirm the identity of the car as a 99 Turbo, unlike the later VIN’s. See images for a better description of the location.
  • From 1981 onward: The VIN plate was bigger than pre-1981 models, and moved to the RHS firewall of the car. These cars had a 17 digit VIN code. The location is further explained in the images. The VIN number applied to these cars incorporated specific codes which will verify the car as a genuine 99 Turbo. See the chart in the images for further clarification.
5. Engine Number - Saab 99 Turbo

The Saab 99 Turbo was fitted with the Saab B type engine, which was a Saab built engine with roots trailing back to the original Triumph engine block, which was originally supplied to Saab from the mid 1960’s. The same engine block was also used in early Saab 900 Turbo cars.

The Saab 99 Turbo should have an engine number with a prefix of BS120P, followed by a unique 8 digit engine number.

Location of engine number:

The engine number is stamped into the Inlet side of the engine block, at the front left of the engine. There is a flat section where the block meets the head, directly below the thermostat area. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to get a photograph of an example, as the number is well hidden behind various pipes etc. If anyone has an example on the bare block, please email it to us by contacting us on the button above.

Example engine number: BS120P05001234

6. Mechanical Features - Saab 99 Turbo

The Saab 99 Turbo had the following mechanical features, which should be present on an original car:

  • Garrett oil cooled AiResearch T3 turbocharger (visible on the front RHS of engine, with the "Turbo" pipe running accross the front of the engine, back to the inlet manifold).
  • Electronic port controlled Bosch Fuel-injection. (see image for location of system)
  • 4 cylinder, 1895cc, 8 valve, single overhead cam,135hp motor.
  • low-compression (7.5:1) pistons.
  • Sodium-filled exhaust valves.
  • Altered camshaft.
  • Oil cooler. 
  • Strengthened transmission.
  • Front suspension: Unequal-length wishbones and coil springs.
  • Rear suspension: Beam axle with coil springs and a Panhard rod at the rear.
  • 4 speed manual transmission on early cars (including all cars imported to the U.S.). Late cars benefited from a 5 speed manual transmission. The 4 speed gearbox should have a number stamped on the side of the casing, being G34401, or  G35401 for 5 speed transmission. The number is located right at the front of the engine, stamped into the top of the geabox casing.
  • Front brakes = 276mm power assisted discs.
  • Rear brakes = 267.5mm power assisted discs.
  • Wheels 5.5J X 15H2 light alloy "Inca" rims. Very early test cars were fitted with 5J X 15 FHA light alloy rims.
  • Tyres = 175 / 70HR15.