Resurrecting a Classic. Crafting an Outlaw

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Over 3 months ago I purchased what looked like a very nicely maintained 900 classic in Scarab Green, all I can say is, looks can be deceiving.

It’s previous keeper had owned it for a number of years together with another 900 classic and had come to a point where he couldn’t maintain both, so advertised this one for sale. On the surface of it, it drove beautifully, had reasonably tidy bodywork and a decent interior. We collected it from Birmingham and had a pleasant return journey.

Morning came and I went outside to find 2 flat tyres and a flat battery, hum, not a good start. I got the foot pump out, boosted the battery from the 9-3 convertible and got it down to Malcom Miles as fast as I could – until a few weeks ago, that’s where it’s been, intensive care for Saabs.

Although it was pretty solid overall, it had rusted in pretty much every normal area these classics go in. After nearly £500 on welding alone, including a partial front end rebuild, it was given a full waxoil and finally feels as though it’s back to its tank like solidity again.

Although it already seemed to drive beautifully, it’s undergone a full and thorough service, with new radiator, brake discs and pads, a full stainless steel exhaust, thermostat, correct battery, hoses, wires and numerous other items to ensure reliability for years to come. We’ve sorted the stance too, Abbott Racing lowered springs and a set of Bilstein shocks.

This is never going to be a perfect example of a classic 900, but I wanted to keep another great Saab on the road, an everyday driver that wore its battle scars with pride, a Saab Outlaw shall we say. I’ve gone for a set of 17 inch graphite, 5 spoke alloys from Driftworks with slightly stretched Falken rubber, we’ve changed the dash over for one without a million cracks and also managed to pop in a full on Turbo cluster with working Turbo gauge.

In my normal excitement I also purchased everything required to convert it in to an Aero spec T16S – body kit, Turbo, ECU, Intercooler and even the Turbo badges, but as this is a father and son project and will be enjoyed by us both, we’re leaving it off until his initial new driver issues have been overcome, an LPT is plenty enough for now!

I had secretly kept a set of 9000 Aero front seats to pop in, but the grey velour ones already fitted are ridiculously comfortable and are pretty much in perfect condition, so they’ll remain for now.

Next up, I’m currently searching for an old school roof rack and rear window louvers, so if anyone knows of some available, please, please give me a shout, i’d be forever grateful.

*Photos courtesy of my iPhone 6 only (sorry).

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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

Is 4 better than 1?

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A couple of years ago, I embarked on a Saab tuning journey with my 9-3 Aero convertible. On its first appointment with the Saab gurus at Malcolm Miles I took the leap and had them install a Stage 1 ECU upgrade by NoobTune. For an exceptionally reasonable cost, it has to be one of the most noticeable and worthwhile things you can do to an already rapid Saab, I enjoyed the benefits for a few months before getting the urge to do a little more.

Fast forward 2 years, a complete engine rebuild with a 2.3 bottom end, new suspension and brake set up and a good few thousand pounds later, it went in yet again for its final tuning (for now).

This time it had a large Do88 intercooler, MapTun pipes, BSW Induction kit, 3” handcrafted ‘Albert’ downpipe, big bar full pump and its 4th remap by NoobTune. I’m reliably informed it’s now running at around Stage 4 / 5, but is it really that much better than the initial Stage 1 upgrade?

Hell yes, the moment I got a clear B road and pressed my foot down a little further, I knew it had all been worthwhile, this is a seriously quick car with all of the rawness and grin inducing torque I wanted it to have and more. The induction kit and downpipe have managed to add the missing audio and now has a satisfying grunt to compliment the surge of never-ending power.

The turbo dial spools into the red with absolutely no lag and the speedo seems to match the rev counter, spinning up at ridiculous speed until you quickly realise this Saab could get you into serious trouble, fast. I now appreciate all of the effort that went into changing the brakes to 308mm’s from a 9-5 Aero, you need them. All of the suspension upgrades also mean it handles as it always should have done, it sits lower to the road and holds turns beautifully, you still have to concentrate to keep control of the front end as you accelerate but that really is part of the Saab experience “if you can’t handle it, don’t drive it” my Dad always used to say.

So, is Stage 4+ better than 1, speaking personally, I’d do it on every Saab I ever own, yes, it’s worth it.

Righting wrongs and wronging rights

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The work continues on the 9-5 Aero Hirsch, it’s had it’s second trip to the folks at Malcolm Miles. New water pump, cam belt, sub frame bushes, new air con pipes to replace ones that had been warn through by constant rubbing with other pipes, and the manifold has been removed to replace broken studs together with a new gasket.

The drive is noticeably improved, no squeaking from the warn belt, no blowing from the manifold and the refreshed engine seems to be pulling beautifully. I’d forgotten just how well put together the 9-5s are – superbly relaxed and effortless in the city and manically fast when there are clear roads ahead.

My idea is to keep buying rare or unusual Saabs and bring them back to a standard that allows them to stay on the road for many more years. This one had obviously been lovingly cared for in the past, but recently has had less attention lavished on it. At the moment, I’m in two minds as to whether to have the bonnet and front grille resprayed, as the rest of the car seems to have the original paintwork, besides, I kind of like cars that tell a story.

I’ve also been repeatedly advised to swap the Hirsch alloys and pop them on my 9-3 convertible, the double Y spokes look fantastic on the 9-5s so that might be the next change, together with the addition of a boot lip to finish off the rear styling.

In the meantime, I’m hugely enjoying driving the 9-5, the new Hirsch carbon dash looks stunning and with the super rare luxury spec, the family are enjoying it too – the rear heated seats are an absolute dream on rainy days.

Oh, and it’s had a shiny new bonnet badge to claim back it’s proud identity.

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

Saab 9-3 HOT Aero Convertible

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Before the weather really turns nasty, I thought I’d try and grab a few photos of the newly reworked 9-3. I have to admit, I’m completely in love with how it looks – the subtle exterior changes add the finishing touches to an already timeless and iconic Saab. The lowered stance just looks damn right sexy, the new stainless steel exhaust with wide oval chrome pipe fits the Aero bodykit beautifully and I’ve removed the side Aero badges to clean the profile up even more.

Roof up or down, this model Saab just oozes style, the mods have just added to the overall enjoyment.

Saab Alchemy

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My recent decision to stick with the original generation 9-3 Aero convertible rather than go for a newer model, resulted in it being put in the safe and hugely capable hands of Jason and his team at Malcolm Miles for a major operation and upgrade.

Things have been moving rapidly – new Bilstein B8 shocks and MapTun springs are now in place to sort out the handling, the engine has been removed and its replacement is taking shape in the workshop.

I like to think of this as Saab alchemy, Jason has taken the beating heart of a legendary 9000 Aero 2.3, bolted on a brand new Turbo, all new gaskets, water pump, chain set and 3 part clutch amongst many other things and is currently reuniting it with the 9-3.

Once back in place, it’ll be treated to a new performance stainless steel exhaust and a bespoke remap by Noob Tune.

All this alchemy will result in an understated, stylish Aero convertible producing a sweet 280hp with the handling and stance the Saab deserves.

Can’t wait to feel the results.