An Acquired Taste

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Let’s face it, we all know Saabs are an acquired taste, you either love them, live with their shortcomings and spend entire days refining them, or you just don’t. To me I quite like that there are no half measures, no middle ground. Ok, so people don’t get why we love them so much, but hey, that’s life.

I recently found this episode of TUNED featuring the seriously cool Matt Farah, I love this film, not least because it features 2 of my favourite Saabs – a classic 900 SPG and a 9-3 Viggen, but because it shows the ‘either you get it or you don’t’ Saab thing. The owner, a real Saabist, loves them, so much so he’s taken the SPG to a different level of sorted, and when he was faced with having to accommodate a family, he plumped for one of the ultimate 4 door Saabs, a 9-3 Viggen. On the other hand, although Matt Farah has some great things to say about Saabs, they just don’t float his boat.

A great film just for the sound of the 900’s turbo alone.

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Bridgestone over trouble water

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A few would tell me new tyres on the 9-3 have been a long time coming, too long, in fact I might have got into trouble if I hadn’t changed them!

The 9-3 Aero has been in need of new tyres pretty much since I purchased it 2 years ago, not that they were illegal, more the combination of Summer and Winter tyres and varying degrees of wear.

Concentrating more on the fun things – 2.3 block, new turbo, exhaust, lowered suspension, springs (the list goes on), but obviously each and every upgrade puts more emphasis on the tyres to perform well, so it was time, new tyres.

This might be painful for some Saab folk to hear, but both my Lexus (sorry) and Porsche (sorry) run on Bridgestone, both perform amazingly well, so the Saab had to have Bridgestone too. After a bit of research, I found a wonderfully gorgeous type called the Potanza Adrenalin. Reviews gave them seriously high ratings with great grip in wet and dry conditions, a more connected drive, low road noise and excellent longevity.

A very reasonable £320 and a few hours later, the Saab is now proudly sitting on brand new rubber, and from a short drive, it already feels so, so much better. I’m looking forward to a proper, spirited drive home later to see how they really enhance the Saab.

‘Saab, because you’re worth it ‘.

Convertible days are here again

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Slowly I see signs of Spring, warmer days, soft blue skies and a freshness that makes you smile. So, with a few days away from work, it seemed like the ideal chance to drop the top and enjoy the pleasures of the 900 convertible.

Cleaned and polished, it’s hard to just hop in and go, so I took the time to admire (and photograph) this iconic Saab. Everywhere you look, there appears to be automotive beauty waiting to greet your eyes, the immaculate horizontal lines running the entire length of the car, the bonnet, the gorgeous curve of the windscreen and, of course, the Carlsson alloys.

I’ve enjoyed giving the entire interior a bit of tlc over Winter, and it’s nice to see the results under the sky at last. The leather seats are supple and luxuriously comfortable again, and I’ve put the wind deflector back in.

I love this car with the roof up, but nothing quite prepares you for just how timeless the 900 looks with it down.

I finally climbed in and took it for a 100 mile run, country lanes mostly, but a few fast roads to clear away the Winter cobwebs. I’ve also had time to enjoy the changes made by the guys at Abbott Racing, and they feel good. It feels faster and unbelievably smooth, the handling is still seriously tight, but above all, it feels reassuringly Saab, it puts a smile on your face only a Saab convertible can.

I happily returned home not realising I’d been gone for a few hours, that’s what Saab convertibles do, they make you lose yourself in the moment.

If anyone fancies one of these iconic 900 convertibles, this one will be for sale very soon. I won’t go in to details right now, but I’m carefully plotting my next Saab project, so if you’re interested, pop me an email (before Spring really gets going).

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What do twenty thousand miles do to a Saab?

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Last week, my 9-3 kindly reminded me that it needed a service for the second time since I drove it out of the showroom back in 2011. I’ll be booking it in at my new local Saab Service Centre very soon, but it made me think about its first 20,000 miles.

Initially, I caused a few problems by changing so much of the standard set up to Hirsch components, this led to both front bearing hubs being replaced within the first 3 months. Since then, it’s had a number plate bulb, a small car park dink smoothing out and one shiny new Hirsch alloy, that’s it, a bit boring I know, but that really is it.

The 9-3 has given a flawless performance for the past 18 months now, adapting to varied driving conditions with all the grace and style I’ve come to expect from a Saab. Relaxed, effortless high speed cruising, congested city commuting or extremely enthusiastic country lane driving, the 9-3 is an absolutely superb executive car.

So what else has 20,000 miles thrown at it? A few annoying stone marks on the front grille, some anti social behaviour in the way of a size 12 boot mark on the bonnet, and a slightly shinier Hirsch leather steering wheel, no bad, and all taken care of.

And despite my rather erratic driving style (I blame that on Hirsch) the 9-3 has returned pretty decent economy. 20,000 miles with an average 550 miles per tank, that’s 36.3 tanks of diesel, costing around £80.00 per tank = £2904.00

Fourteen pence per smile.

This is officially the longest I’ve ever kept a car, and out of 50+ all I can say is, thank you Saab, thank you for such a stunning car.

Here’s to 20,000 miles, and the next, and the next

Saab Winterings

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It’s been difficult weather here in the UK, especially for taking photos of Saabs, wind, rain, hail, you name it, we’ve had it. But then came the snow and ice; crisp mornings, where everything looks as though it’s been painted white, so out came the camera.

The car isn’t clean, but I love the contrast between the deep grey and white, and it reminds me just how exceptional the 9-3’s design is.

As the snow falls, I can’t help feeling a little snug that I drive Saabs, they’re great in this kind of weather. My old 9-5 Aero auto, had a very special W button, it had magic powers, press it, and driving in Winter conditions was a real pleasure. The 9-3 is a manual, but I’m always amazed at how well it handles in the snow, and as for the 900 classic, brilliant, it must be the weight of the thing.

And did I mention the other Saab innovation that I just couldn’t live without in Winter, the heated seats, oh and…

If Hirsch wheels were meant to be square

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I’m sure the nice people at Hirsch would have crafted a gorgeous set of 18″ square ones by now, but they haven’t, wheels aren’t meant to be square, things have progressed somewhat since the dark ages.

On the other hand, I wish I could say the same thing about road surfaces, whilst some are fantastic, others are left to disintegrate before our very wheels. Unfortunately, over Christmas, one of my perfectly round Hirsch alloys literally fell down a giant black hole in one of our local, less care for roads.

I’m now the proud owner of, what I imagine to be, the very first square Hirsch alloy, and it isn’t great, my lovely Saab 9-3 now feels pretty rough, and the faster I go, the worse it gets. I’ve had a few words with the council responsible for the road, and It seems they may pay for a new wheel – I’ll reserve comment until I receive a cheque.

I’ve ordered a new alloy already, so hope my 9-3 will soon feel as smooth as it did before it met the giant black hole.

The Saab Light Fantastic

It’s been a few days since I last managed to add anything, but within that time, Autumn has arrived here in the UK, and the evenings are drawing in fast. By the time I leave work, dusk is already greeting me, it’s not all altogether bad though, I get to admire the 9-3’s exceptional design in a different light.

When nature’s light dims, automotive lights take over, and few are as beautiful as the latest Saab’s. The Saab 9-3 features impeccably designed headlights with a highly individual look, spotting them coming toward me, puts a smile on my face every time.

Distinctive and stylish, the elegant light strip highlights the edge of the Saab’s bonnet, and when darkness really sets in, the perfect circular eyes send powerful beams out into the night.

Occasionally, I’ll be rewarded with a lesser spotted new generation 9-5; they too have the distinctive Saab light fantastic, so next time you see one, look in your rear view mirror as it passes – the beautiful, narrow strip of red light reassures you that Saab really did get it right, in design terms at least.