The Saab 900 Turbo, introduced in May of 1978, was Bond's vehicle of choice in many of the John Gardner Bond novels, beginning with Licence Renewed (1981). Dubbed, the "Silver Beast", it is Bond's private vehicle modified by the real-life company Communication Control Systems, Ltd. (CCS) (now called Security Intelligence Technology Group).
The 1979 900 was available in three versions: The GL had the single-carb 99 hp/73.5 kW engine, the GLS had twin carburetors for 106 hp/79.5 kW, the EMS and GLE had fuel injection for 116 hp/87 kW, and the 900 Turbo produced 143 hp/107 kW. A five-speed transmission was introduced in the EMS and Turbo for 1980.
The only bodywork originally available was the three or five-door hatchback style, which was seen as more modern at the time. The vehicle also had an aviation-inspired curved windscreen for better visibility and an aircraft style dashboard. The dashboard itself had been arranged according to the frequency of use and/or importance of the various controls and gauges.
The Saab 900 Turbo was James Bond's vehicle of choice in three John Gardner Bond novels, starting with Licence Renewed (1981). In the novel the car is silver colored, even though it is sometimes black or red on some of the bookcovers. Consequently, the vehicle got the nickname the "Silver Beast" in the followup Gardner novel, For Special Services (1982) and was once more featured in Icebreaker (1983).
Unlike many Bond vehicles, the Saab 900 is Bond's personal property, and was not provided by Q-Branch. At his own expense, Bond had it customized by security and counter-surveillance experts, Communication Control Systems, Ltd. (CCS), now called Security Intelligence Technology Group.
After the events of For Special Services, Bond allowed Q Branch to make some adjustments to his car. The most prominent of these was the compartment hidden behind the gearshift for a type of telephone unit that would allow for remote text communication with MI6. For his mission in Finland, Bond sent the Saab to his friend Erik Carlsson, who also taught him how to best drive in the hazardous road conditions of the Finnish winter, and stocked his car with equipment for his mission.
Bond's Saab 900 Turbo, 3-door version, was equipped with the following features:
- Water-cooled turbo engine modification per Saab Law Enforcement specs, producing a top speed in excess of 170 MPH
- Modified fuel system capable of running on petrol or gasohol
- Halon 12 fire extinguishing system and fire-proofing
- Digital Head-Up Display
- Remote text-messaging system via black box phone hook up to landline Mobile phone
- Four external tear gas ducts
- A filter to neutralise deadly gas entering the car's passenger cabin
- Oxygen masks under the seats in CO2-operated compartment
- Several hidden compartments in dashboard containing TH70 Nitefinder goggles (for driving without headlights), grenades, one unauthorized Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum revolver and one Browning automatic handgun
- Fully armor-plated body Bulletproof glass
- Steel-reinforced ramming bumpers back and front
- Heavy-duty Dunlop Denovos tires, self-sealing even after being hit by bullets
- Black leather upholstery
- Side gunport Remote starter kit Rotating license plates
- Air Conditioning Cruise Control Two halogen fog lamps
- A fully built in sound system
- Aircraft headlight hidden behind front license plate.
- Communication Control Systems, Ltd. (now called Security Intelligence Technology Group) is actually a real company, which advised author John Gardner with ideas about feasible gadgets to be used. Consequently, Gardner gave them the credit in the book, rather than Q Branch.
- With the release of Licence Renewed, Saab took the opportunity to launch a Bond themed promotional campaign complete with an actual car outfitted like the one in the book (but using smoke dispensers instead of tear gas).