Rebirth of the High Mile Club

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So I’ve had a bit of a break from running the blog, the domain lapsed and stuff just got left, and although I’m still currently Saabless, I felt the need to get up and running again. To me, Saabs are and always will be simply stunning cars, they’ve become part of our family, a tradition that will pass through generations, a truly unique and timeless car that deserves to be honoured.

As you all know, I’d established the High Mile Club a few years back, but this platform wasn’t conducive to maintaining it as I’d have liked too, so I’ve been busy reestablishing the club elsewhere.

Huge question, do I continue to rebuild it or not, is it something people still like, and what do you all think of the new format ?

The criteria used to be 100,000 Miles, but as our Saabs get older and continue to be driven and enjoyed, the new criteria of 150,000 Miles seems more realistic. If you’d like your Saab featured, feel free to join the club by filling in the form here.

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A Sonett Sonnet

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I have a love, hate relationship with the Saab Sonett
It’s got a petite rear and a huge bonnet
Originally designed in the 1950’s by Rolf Mellde
He was a Saab engine developer, all round genius and welder

I can’t be bothered to keep that up for another 3 quatrains, so back to normal scribbling.

As I say, not a Saab I instantly loved, but I came across a few exceptionally beautiful ones at this year’s SaabFest, all three were represented, although I’m not entirely sure the red Sonett I was actually a Sonett I at all (someone please correct me if I’m wrong), but all absolutely immaculate. The tan leather interior in the red Sonett III was truly beautiful, although I doubt i’d fit.

I don’t usually get in to specific histories, as I tend to get some information incorrect and really don’t want a deluge of ‘you’ve got this wrong’ but the Sonett has such an interesting past, I couldn’t resist, so please bare with me.

Back in the 50’s a Saab engine developer and race enthusiast, Rolf Mellde, collaborated with a few other Saab folks to design a roadster prototype in one of the spare barns on the Saab factory site in Åsaka, near Trollhättan. With a minuscule budget of just 75,000 Kronor, they single handedly crafted what soon became known as the Sonett, a name derived from the Swedish phrase Så-nätt-den-är which literally translates to ‘it’s so neat’.

Sadly, only a handful of Sonett I’s were manufactured, but in the 60’s, Björn Karlström suggested that Saab continue to develop the roadster, which they did, initially with a tiny two stroke engine and then switching to a V4 engine in ’64. Only very limited numbers of the Sonett II’s were manufactured, but in ’67, with some design enhancements and mass production more accessible, this became the Sonett V4 and enabled Saab to manufacture over 1,500 in total.

1970 came and saw Sergio Coggiola and later Gunnar A. Sjögren redesign the Sonett V4 which became known as the final version, the Sonett III. This final edition had 65hp, 0-60 in 13 seconds and a top speed of 103mph. Sonett production ended in ’73 with some 8,000 having been manufactured.

I’m still not sure I’d set out to own one, but respect the one’s that do, this is another important part of our Saab heritage and so pleased to see these immaculate examples.

Watch the Sonett in action from CineCars

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.

Raw Saabs

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Having run Saab vs. Scepticism for over 4 years now, one of the questions I get asked most is “can I still get parts if I buy a Saab”. I seem to have been super lucky with the folks at Malcolm Miles, as they’ve been able to source any part we’ve required without trouble.

But what’s so great about the Saab community is that you’ll constantly discover new people and places with the same passion for keeping our Saabs on the road and Raw Saab is one of them. Peter Raw contacted me about my 9-5 Aero Hirsch, and let slip that he also runs a small, dedicated Saab parts and cars company, mostly specialising in OG 9-3 and 9-5 parts, but can also lay his hands on plenty of other parts too.

It really is a treasure trove, and I was amazed at the value compared to other suppliers. So next time you need something, get in touch with these folks and see if they can help. Great work Raw Saab.

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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Objet D’Aero

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For the past few months, I’ve had everything required to take the 9-3 convertible to its next stage of tuning including a DO88 upgraded intercooler, Maptun hoses and BSR induction kit. But there’s been one item that has taken rather longer to arrive, a handcrafted down pipe by APH Performance.

When it finally arrived last week I realised it had been worth the wait, it really is a thing of beauty, in fact, it’s almost a shame to hide it away deep in the engine bay of the Aero, so I decided to take a few photos of it first, makers fingerprints included. It’s an all stainless steel construction, TIG welded and purged, v band joints and 3” free flow throughout, beautiful.

The convertible is already booked in at Malcolm Miles who will get it running close to 300hp when everything is fitted. It’ll also have another remap by Karl at Noob Tune just to make it run as sweet as it can.

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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.