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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And another Classic 900 Turbo

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I know I’ve only just featured another gorgeous classic 900 Turbo from Taiwan recently, but after stumbling across this build, I couldn’t resist and had to share it. This one’s from the Netherlands, by a tuning house called KC Performance.

It’s the colour combo that got me – deep, rich carbon grey exterior with a completely bespoke, caramel brown, perforated leather interior, and it sure looks stunning. To me this is pretty much a perfect 900 Turbo, subtle styling details such as the lowered stance, white indicators and carbon touches, together with two tone Aero wheels give it an utterly timeless beauty.

Although the Saab has covered some 290,000 kilometres, the B202 engine has been subject to a complete rebuild and with the help of KC Performance mapping is now running a Stage 3 at around 240hp, a complete Simmons twin exhaust finishes things off nicely.

Full spec and refurb details here

 

Saab Classic 900 Turbo from Taiwan

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A real nice film short of a Saab 900 Turbo restoration from Taiwan, if fact, it has to be one of the smartest, shiniest 900 Turbo’s I’ve seen for a while. The stance is just right, it’s got by far the best Aero alloys and even the retro louvered rear window cover looks perfect on the car. Beautiful work.

Saab Seat Style

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Whilst searching for a set of suitable vintage sport seats for another car, I came across this rather nice looking beige Saab 99. I don’t have any further information on it other than the owner has fitted a set of Italian made BF Torino Nürburgring R seats, which suit the retro Saab interior beautifully.

Nice orange alloys too.

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.