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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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.

Canadian twin classics

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As far as Saab spotting goes, this year’s trip to Canada wasn’t a successful one, amidst a sea of bland cars I saw only a handful of Saabs, most as we were driving across Ontario, so I wasn’t able to take many photos.

However, my luck changed in the elegant Muskoka town of Gravenhurst, we’d stopped for the obligatory tourist wobble around and giant ice-cream when I saw not only one, but two classic Saabs parked outside a realtor on one of the town’s side streets.

The first was a beautiful red, well cared for 900 classic Turbo convertible whilst to other was a poorly looking black 9000 Aero. Rust had set in on the front and rear arches, the paintwork dull and interior used for a storage space, but in my eyes, well worth rescuing – if I lived in Canada I couldn’t have resisted attempting to save it though.

A number of nice 9-3 Aeros around and a 9-7 spotted in downtown Toronto, but not much else, I’ll try and do better next time.

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.