Saab vs. Porsche

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Before people start ranting that this is a blog purely for Saabs, let me validate the reasoning behind the post. I happened to mention that when not driving one of my Saabs, I also drive a classic Porsche 911, this got picked up by a fellow Saabist who asked if it would be appropriate to compare the experience? So, here we are, Saab vs. Porsche.

The Porsche is ’91 964 Carrera 4, 3.6 flat six, air cooled, modified and tuned to kick out some 280hp, in my eyes, it’s one of the most iconic cars ever crafted, I used to dream of owning a 911, and this was the model that did it for me when I was younger.

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I don’t own the Porsche to have it sitting around, it was bought to use and abuse, all year round, in all weathers, and that’s what I do on a regular basis, I don’t need a destination in mind, I just jump in and head out, often for a 50 – 100 mile B road blast, this is a car bought purely for pleasure.

Midway through a recent drive, I got a phone call to collect my son from an estate he works at, the Porsche isn’t the car to go in, so I made my way home, hopped out of the Porsche and in to the Saab 9-3 convertible, with a similar bhp of 300 – it seemed like the perfect opportunity to compare 2 very different (but similar in many ways) cars.

I won’t waste time debating the aesthetics of either car, both are beautiful, and imho, neither have ever been bettered, which brings me directly to the driving experience.

The Porsche is raw, I mean really raw, I like to call in an analogue experience, although it has PAS and ABS, we’re talking minimal intrusion, it manages to connect you directly to the road, you become part of the car quickly and with ease, you feel every trace of the road, every curve. It also feels exceptionally low and rather small compared to most modern cars.

The 3.6 air cooled, flat six produces a very distinct soundtrack, the shear noise is heavenly – although reasonably subtle at lower rpm, at around 4000 rpm it breaks in to the purest scream which keeps on building and building right through to 6500 rpm, it really is captivating. The steering is so on point it’s hard to imagine anything better, the gears are again, pure analogue, you feel the beautifully engineered H box as it slips from gear to gear, and the handling gives you the confidence to power on through corners in pretty much any weather.

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I did a 1000 miles in a week recently, I drove it up to North Wales, through Snowdonia and to the coast, I took it in to the city, to meetings and home again, not once did I get bored. The Porsche is a real, time honoured driver’s car, it has earned its reputation as one of the finest sports cars ever made, and I for one feel completely privileged to be the keeper of one, even just for a little while.

Hop straight in to the Saab 9-3 and I realise just how high it feels, not just its stance, but its general seating position too, high, but also ridiculously comfortable. Everything is easy, the gear change is light and smooth, the steering sharp and accurate, with the suspension work it’s had done, the Saab also handles amazingly well, less analogue, but still manages to feel involved.

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The power delivery seems utterly immediate, rather than building like the Porsche, foot down and it continues to endlessly pull until it hits 6000rpm, it needs control and attention to drive, less stuck to the road, but equally exhilarating, the Saab feels faster than the Porsche, and although less involving never fails to make me smile. The 9-3 can never compete with the Porsche for sound, although with the addition of the APH downpipe, full stainless steel exhaust and BSR induction kit, it still has a hugely pleasing one with enthusiastic driving.

By no means a full comparison, but one that might give an insight in to both cars. Which do I prefer? both. If I’m honest it really depends what mood I’m in, the Saab provides exceptionally fast, easy driving and with the roof down really can’t be beaten for style and pleasure, but the Porsche, the Porsche still offers a unique and uncompromising experience that modern cars just don’t offer.

The Porsche on Instagram

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Raw Saabs

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Having run Saab vs. Scepticism for over 4 years now, one of the questions I get asked most is “can I still get parts if I buy a Saab”. I seem to have been super lucky with the folks at Malcolm Miles, as they’ve been able to source any part we’ve required without trouble.

But what’s so great about the Saab community is that you’ll constantly discover new people and places with the same passion for keeping our Saabs on the road and Raw Saab is one of them. Peter Raw contacted me about my 9-5 Aero Hirsch, and let slip that he also runs a small, dedicated Saab parts and cars company, mostly specialising in OG 9-3 and 9-5 parts, but can also lay his hands on plenty of other parts too.

It really is a treasure trove, and I was amazed at the value compared to other suppliers. So next time you need something, get in touch with these folks and see if they can help. Great work Raw Saab.

Pimp My Saab

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So, it was the last local car meet of the season, and possibly the largest turnout I’ve ever seen, clear skies over nearly a 1000 cars of all shape and sizes, likeminded folks talking exhaust fabrication, stance and tyre stretch and the evening was finished off nicely with a perfect setting sun.

Last month there were a handle full of Saabs present, most were there again, but this one I hadn’t seen before, an immaculate black 9-3 saloon, from the interior, it looked like a standard Linear model, but that’s where standard stopped, twin exhausts, tints, dropped suspension and 18” alloys with heavily stretched rubber.

Love it or hate it, it was definitely a very well loved Saab and another one kept on the road for us all.

In the eyes of the beholder

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Sometimes I catch a glimpse of the Saab and think ‘wow’ – it’s usually when I’m not expecting it either. I stand for a while and admire the shape, I can’t help thinking just how amazing these still look, it feels absolutely timeless. It really is a privilege to be able to own and maintain such an iconic Saab.

Right, time to go for a quick drive I think.

RAT Look Saab, Netherland Style

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Always love hearing about unusual Saabs from around the globe, especially ones that don’t conform.

A few years ago I featured some RAT Look Saabs, a style not often associated with or applied to Saabs for some reason. These aren’t pristine, Concours cars, or in contrast to popular belief, not badly maintained either. It’s a style that has to be considered and designed, the base car often better and faster than most everyday cars.

I received a great email from P in the Netherlands recently, he’s currently turning his ’96 trackday 9-3 into a RAT Look Saab. It features Independence rims clad in Toyo intermediate rubber, sitting on Koni / Eibach lowered suspension. TD04 turbo, forge dump valve, sport downpipes, upgraded front brakes, strut bar and is running stage 3 to around 250hp, whilst the interior features a set of Porsche race seats. Oh, and it’s covered some 250,000 kilometres throughout it’s exciting life.

It also features a rare Saab bike lift to keep P’s Ridley road bike safe, and perfectly finishes off this RAT Look Saab.

Saab Swap

So, rather than me continuing my search for a new Saab on EBay / Autotrader / Gumtree / ClassicCarsForSale etc, I had an idea, why not see if another Saabist wants a swap.

What I’m after is a 9000 Aero, manual, well looked after and with a sunroof if possible, can be a bit stanced and tuned although that’s also what I’d like to do when I find the right one. Needs to be lower than 200,000 miles and have a decent service history, any colour except red or white would suit fine, but Sabre Green, Black or Dark Grey perfect, oh and have Aero / super Aero alloys or something a bit different.

What would you get in return?  A very lovely, fast, reliable 9-3 HOT Aero convertible that’s been lavished with goodies for the past couple of years. Running at around 280+ hp, (think Viggen, but better). Lowered with a Bilstein / Maptun setup, new Bridgestone Potanza all round, stainless steel exhaust, new turbo, clutch…the list goes on.

I was planning to pop it on EBay at around £3,000, so that’s the kind of 9000 Aero value I’d be after.

Anyone got itchy Saab feet?  Inbox open saabvsscepticism@yahoo.co.uk

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