Fueling a Saab with Ethanol

These pages will explore the feasibility of running a Classic Saab 900 Turbo on ethanol obtained from local distilleries.

There has been a history of misinformation about the fuel use of ethanol in motors. Fuel is a lucrative enterprise. It should come as no surprise that those with much to gain, or lose, might slant messages to favor their interests.

The trouble is, information about how ethanol might work in my car is buried in a pile of claims, counterclaims, conjecture and misinformation. It isn't possible for a casual reader to find clear answers.

I want to know if my car can safely run on ethanol, if the results (mileage, performance, pollution) are useful, and what I must do to make it work.

There is enough information available to suggest that

  • neat (unblended) ethanol is a high performance fuel.
  • it should run well in Saabs
  • it appears unlikely to attack vehicle components.
  • it runs much cleaner than gasoline.
  • it causes less engine wear than gasoline.

If half of this is true, interesting possibilities await. If it proves out that ethanol is a bad fuel with unresolvable problems for Classic 900, so be it.

Comments are welcome from readers, particularly suggestions about how to get better results, or explanations of puzzling results, or refutation of any point.



David Blume's book Alcohol Can Be a Gas is a carefully written and detailed book covering ethanol fuel use from chemistry, to engine use, to sustainable feedstock ecology to politics. It is accessible and informative, and heavily footnoted.

The US Department of Energy has an alternative fuels locator will help you locate E85.

Here are threads I'm hosting on SaabNet.com.