From the harshest Scandinavian winters to cruising with the wind in your hair in 70 degree beach weather, the Saab convertible has been one of the most iconic drop-tops in automotive history. The embattled Swedish automaker, which needs something to celebrate these days, is highlighting its convertible’s unique 25-year history as it continues to assert itself as an independent company.
What started out as a topless 900 concept at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show became a sensation when it went into production in 1986 (as a 1987 model). European customers waited as much as a year to get one. The story was much the same in the U.S., with numerous pre-orders from eager Saab fanatics looking to score the first cars.
The “four season, four-seater” 900 stood apart from other convertibles in its day, boasting smoother lines while offering an overall practicality and all-season ability most other drop-tops of the era couldn’t match.
Since the initial 900 ‘Vert debuted, Saab has sold more than 300,000 convertibles around the world, with some 100,000 of those being the third-generation, 9-3 Convertible which debuted in 2003. The company still holds true to its roots and has stuck with a powered soft-top, which has now become the fastest-acting in the premium convertible segment according to Saab, fully deploying in just 20 seconds. Also making the Saab soft-top unique are 11 manual heat settings that replace the climate control when the top is retracted.
It wouldn’t be celebration without a special edition model, and for the 25th anniversary, Saab has added a new 9-3 Convertible trim level called the Independence Edition. Building on the top-level Aero trim, the Independence Edition is glazed with an amber orange metallic paint, matching orange interior stitching and accents in the interior, and five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels. Only 366 (one for each day that the company has been separated from GM) will be sold.
The 2012 9-3 will continue to be available in sedan, SportCombi wagon, convertible, and 9-3x body styles. Hopefully now that Saab’s finances appear to be shaping up, we’re betting the next-generation 9-3 convertible will be better than ever.