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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New York Classic 900 Aero

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It’s been a while since my last post, and a lot has changed. The 9-5 Aero Hirsch got sold and collected to a great couple who were just beginning their Saab journey and I’ve embarked on my next Saab saving project – a 900S 16v LPT 3 door coupe, which I’ll scribble a LOT more about very soon.

In the meantime, I couldn’t resist sharing this New York based 900 Aero with a few mods, like it or not, it’s had plenty of attention lavished on it.

Full story here

9-5 Aero Hirsch for sale

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Sometimes, life seems to overwhelm you and time becomes a distant memory. I’ve struggled to stay afloat with even the basic essentials, let alone the site, but another year, another opportunity to get back on track and motivated. This leads me to make a confession, I’m a diehard petrolhead, there, I’ve said it. Saabs are obviously deep rooted, but I also have other obsessions including an air cooled Porsche 911 which take time too. This obsession causes issues, parking for one, I already abuse the generosity of neighbours either side of our home, but have now spilled out onto the road, that’s not good, so at least one car has go.

The 9-5 Aero Hirsch was always a project Saab, I set out to right the wrongs on this great car and to ensure it lasted for at least another 10 years. I’ve spent over £1,500 sorting things out and although I haven’t got around to the final cosmetic stage, I just haven’t got the time or energy to finish it all off.

I won’t go in to all of the car’s details as I listed it for sale on EBay last night. It really is an exceptional Saab, ridiculously comfortable, relaxing, quiet, fast and pretty rare, I’ve only ever seen a handful of 9-5’s with this level of Hirsch kit on, it’s as close to a full Hirsch Troll R as you’ll get without it actually being one.

I’d toyed with the idea of transplanting the 18” alloys on to my Aero convertible, but decided I’d be good and leave it as a whole, not sure if that’s the right choice, but hej.

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.

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.

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.

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.