The Turbo Godfather

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I felt that this Saab really deserved an entire post of its own, after all it can easily be described as the undisputed Godfather of Turbos. Launched in the hedonistic 70’s, the 99 Turbo was literally one of the first cars to combine safety and exhilarating turbo performance, it singlehandedly put Saab on a legendary pedestal, which still holds strong today.

This one, in the only acceptable Turbo colour – black, was quite rightly getting a lot of attention at SaabFestUK, a perfect example, unmolested and seemingly unchanged since the day it drove out of the Saab showroom, paintwork immaculate, all accessories intact including some super cool Bosch spotlights and an interior that screamed ‘jump in and drive me’.

I felt myself gravitating to this car over and over again, it’s owner should be hugely proud and also feel just a little bit privileged to be the guardian of such a legendary car.

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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

Saabs of Copenhagen

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It was with great sadness we had to leave Copenhagen, after a week long stay in what turned out to be one of the most inspirational cities I’ve ever visited.

The architecture and cobbled streets, the canals and cafes, food and wine, all added up to enough Hygge to keep me going until our next visit. Obviously, this site is about Saabs, and Copenhagen didn’t disappoint in that area either. From a pretty immaculate classic 9000 CSE and a gen1 9-3 proudly sporting a Performance by Nordic badge to 900s, 9-3s and 9-5s, there seemed to be no shortage of them out on the streets and being enjoyed.

Most have only been captured with my iPhone, but they serve to remind me of just how many Saabs there were around.

Tak Copenhagen, we’ll be back as soon as we can.

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Spitalfields Saab

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We popped down to London for my daughter’s birthday earlier this week, and whilst the women did Oxford Street, my son and I went exploring the hidden backstreets of one of my favourite neighbourhoods – Spitalfields.

After enjoying the indulgent sights and smells of the market and beauty of Christ Church we walked down streets of elegantly decaying Georgian architecture, tall townhouses with wooden shutters painted in dark heritage colours and then, there it was, looking particularly at home, a classic Saab 900.

In what I’d still class as the very best combination, black with tan leather interior, Aero alloys, factory sunroof and rear spoiler, it just oozed style, you couldn’t have art directed a better setting for it – absolutely perfect.

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.