Things take time

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It’s been a while since my last post, sadly, motivation has seemed to be rather low, but in the meantime, the 900 has been well and truly put through it’s paces. We’ve done almost 3,000 miles in it since it’s recovery, everything from driving lessons to road trips to Wales, it’s sat in heavy traffic, darted along winding country roads and cruised happily along motorways.

For the life of me I can’t understand why more people don’t embrace older cars as daily drivers, the 900 is ridiculously comfortable, it has electric windows and a quiet sunroof, it’s well mannered around town and has a gorgeously distinct burble when you put your foot down, it also commands quite a bit of attention. Young and old just can’t help giving it the thumbs up, from a bunch of hipster skateboarders to a very smart gentleman who couldn’t resist telling me how much he loved Saabs – he’d owned a few in the past and longed to own another.

The work continues though, the sunroof leaks when it rains heavily, the windscreen washer pipes have become brittle and keep falling off, and the new Turbo cluster still isn’t quite right, what I mean by that, is that smoke starts pouring out if I turn off the lights, and there’s no illumination at night.

We’ve also discovered the passenger side arch still has some rust that needs sorting, but lets face it, it doesn’t stop you driving and things just take time.

I’ve managed to source a set of roof bar towers and will be attempting to find some nice spotlights to keep the ‘Swedish Wilderness’ look on track.

The search also continues for something aptly unique to replace the 9-3 Aero convertible, although I’ve been wishing I hadn’t sold the 9-5 Hirsch, that was pretty rare.

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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

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.

Park Life

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Being a fully paid up petrolhead, any chance to get out and meet up with likeminded folk is always a pleasure. Luckily for me, there’s a local car and classic meet held nearby in a village called Earls Barton. It’s grown over the years and attracts a seriously varied collection of cars, including an unbadged 2016 Aston Martin work’s car, a stunningly beautiful 1960’s Nissan Skyline GT-R and a whole array of iconic Porsches, Ferraris and other exotics

Obviously what caught my eye, were a number of Saabs happily sitting alongside the great and good and holding their own very nicely. What’s so refreshing about car meets like this is that they appeal to all, from the old folks sitting in their picnic chairs next to an immaculate 99 to the slammed and anything but standard 9-3 with the biggest gold alloys I’ve ever seen squeezed on to a Saab.

A host of others from a beautiful classic 900 turbo, 9000 Aero and 9-3 convertible proved that our Saabs really do look great anywhere.

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 Saab for the Senses. Part II

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The weather here in England has been pretty special since my last post, and the convertible has truly been a pleasure to both own and drive. It seems like every day brings a few new leaves – the beautifully green freshness returns and the convertible allows you to enjoy every single moment to the max.

Driving home this evening I had to stop a grab a photo just so that I can remember how special it feels. A deserted country lane, dappled sunlight coming through the trees and perfect silence – except for the gorgeous sound of a Saab turbo of course.

Precious moments by Saab.