Saab vs. Saab

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For those of you that follow the blog, you’ll know how much time, effort and money has gone in to my 9-3 HOT Aero convertible, but the time has come to pass it on to another Saab guardian and move on to another Saab project.

I’m still not entirely sure I’m being logical about this, but it feels right and there’s little more I can do on this one. It’s super fast and yet understated, it’s comfortable, reliable and puts a huge grin on my face every time I drive it, especially with the roof down, any season.

I’ve set an extremely sensible reserve sub £5k in the hope that another enthusiast will grab it and enjoy it as much as I have done, but without breaking the bank. I still ask myself, what other car could provide this much individuality for that price?

Although I’ve listed everything on eBay, here are the highlights :

Bilstein B8 shocks
MapTun springs
Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin tyres
9000 Aero 2.3 B234 bottom end
New Turbo
New clutch
New gaskets
Water pump
Chain set
Jetex stainless Steel exhaust
APH ‘Albert’ Performance stainless steel downpipe
DO88 intercooler / MapTun hoses
BSR Induction kit
Upgraded fuel pump
Bespoke Noob Tune 300hp (Stage 4+)
9-5 Aero 308mm upgraded discs and callipers
Steering rack clamp
Bulkhead brace
Saab Wind Deflector
Upper mesh grille
Upgraded headlight bulbs

Without putting it in for a Dyno test, the 300hp, Stage 4 is a conservative estimate by the lovely folks at Malcolm Miles who’ve worked on this since I bought it back in 2014.

You’ll find loads of posts on it’s progression within these pages, and I’ve very possibly missed out half the things I’ve done to it over the years. Feel free to ask questions. Please god let it go to someone who loves Saabs and will appreciate it.

Here’s the eBay listing

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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

Last of the Summer Drives

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I count each and every day with even a glimpse of blue sky a blessing, as Autumn approaches and the nights draw in, there will be less and less opportunity to get the roof down and go for a drive in the 9-3 convertible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to shy away from four season topless driving, but let’s face it, you can’t beat a Saab convertible when the sun’s out and warming your soul.

Sunday welcomed us with vast blue skies and soft wispy clouds, so with the roof down we headed out for a drive through the surrounding countryside, it was warm enough to have the side windows down too and gave me the opportunity to appreciate the clean, timeless lines of the 9-3. It might be 15 years old now, but in my eyes, there really hasn’t been many new convertibles that surpass the Saab for it’s beauty, the Aero body kit by Ian Callum and lowered stance help of course, but even in their standard form, these cars have stood the test of time gracefully and are still ridiculously great value if you can find a good one.

Passing endless cornfields towering above our heads, it perfectly expressed what driving a convertible is all about – enjoying every little moment life has to offer.

After reading Saab vs. Scepticism

A few weeks ago I received an email from Matt, telling me Saab vs. Scepticism was to blame for him buying a non-running Saab HOT Aero convertible on EBay.

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An entire story of the preceding weeks ensued, and rather than water it down, I’ve included it as a pdf, raw and unabridged at the bottom of the post. Needless to say, rescuing a Saab isn’t always going to be easy, but it’ll sure put a smile back on your face.

“I fell asleep dropping the phone directly on my face, which woke me up with a smack, I lifted my phone from my neck, ready to put it down for the night when, there it was, a 2002 Saab 9-3 just like the one I wanted. Well not just like it but, the potential was there and that was good enough
for me!”…

The full story, raw and unabridged SvsS_Rescuing a 93 HOT Aero

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.

A real Aero Trieste

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I must confess, I’ve had this absolutely stunning Saab HOT Aero sitting in my inbox for a rather long time, as have a number of other exceptional global Saabs that need sharing with everyone, only me to blame, life has a tendency to get in the way sometimes.

I must also confess my location envy, owned, enjoyed and immaculately maintained by Pino, this Aero resides next to the coast in Trieste, Italy. It’s a 2001 Saab with Hirsch mods in a abundance – 5 spoke alloys, aluminium pedals, interior panels and an amazing sculptured sports steering wheel helping to handle the 265hp and 385Nm it’s currently producing.

It’s just taken up it’s rightful place as a member of the High Mile Club with 112,500 on the clock.

And if i’d have been closer when we visited Puglia last year, I’d have taken up the offer of meeting for a beer and admiring this great Aero (thanks Pino), I’ll take a rain check for sure though.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

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For a while now, I’ve been focusing my attention on the outside of my 9-3 Aero – engine mods, tuning, exhaust, suspension, brakes… I suddenly realised I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate just how special the inside feels in these Saabs too.

This weekend brought some gorgeous weather and a bit of spare time to give it a clean up and moisturise the leather, dust off the wind deflector and generally prep it for plenty of topless road trips.

When you clean, you start to appreciate the quality and shear attention to detail. Although 15 years old, nothing appears worn or broken, buttons and dials are all near on perfect with no rattles, everything just works beautifully. I can’t put the comfort of these Aero seats into words easily, shaped better than virtually any other car I’ve ever driven, head rests in just the right position and blessed with heating for cold days, what a great place to be.

I still find it unbelievable that you can pick one of these Saabs up from sub £1k. When I’m in it, I can’t help feeling a bit like I’m in an exclusive club, not everyone knows just how amazing these cars are, and to be quite selfish, I’m glad they don’t either.

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