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

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

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.

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.

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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