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.

Righting wrongs and wronging rights

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The work continues on the 9-5 Aero Hirsch, it’s had it’s second trip to the folks at Malcolm Miles. New water pump, cam belt, sub frame bushes, new air con pipes to replace ones that had been warn through by constant rubbing with other pipes, and the manifold has been removed to replace broken studs together with a new gasket.

The drive is noticeably improved, no squeaking from the warn belt, no blowing from the manifold and the refreshed engine seems to be pulling beautifully. I’d forgotten just how well put together the 9-5s are – superbly relaxed and effortless in the city and manically fast when there are clear roads ahead.

My idea is to keep buying rare or unusual Saabs and bring them back to a standard that allows them to stay on the road for many more years. This one had obviously been lovingly cared for in the past, but recently has had less attention lavished on it. At the moment, I’m in two minds as to whether to have the bonnet and front grille resprayed, as the rest of the car seems to have the original paintwork, besides, I kind of like cars that tell a story.

I’ve also been repeatedly advised to swap the Hirsch alloys and pop them on my 9-3 convertible, the double Y spokes look fantastic on the 9-5s so that might be the next change, together with the addition of a boot lip to finish off the rear styling.

In the meantime, I’m hugely enjoying driving the 9-5, the new Hirsch carbon dash looks stunning and with the super rare luxury spec, the family are enjoying it too – the rear heated seats are an absolute dream on rainy days.

Oh, and it’s had a shiny new bonnet badge to claim back it’s proud identity.

Wunderschöner Saab 900 Turbo

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Always interested in searching out the cheapest and most expensive Saabs for sale and this is a really fantastic example from Germany.

Simply described as ‘wonderful Saab 900 Turbo in Amaranth Red metallic clearcoat with Bokhara red velor deluxe carré interior . The vehicle has been extensively renovated’ from the pictures, i’d tend to agree.

With just 117,000 miles on the clock, manual gearbox, super cosy interior and a sunroof, this once really would be a keeper, even at the asking price of €15,800.

For sale here.

An Acquired Taste

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Let’s face it, we all know Saabs are an acquired taste, you either love them, live with their shortcomings and spend entire days refining them, or you just don’t. To me I quite like that there are no half measures, no middle ground. Ok, so people don’t get why we love them so much, but hey, that’s life.

I recently found this episode of TUNED featuring the seriously cool Matt Farah, I love this film, not least because it features 2 of my favourite Saabs – a classic 900 SPG and a 9-3 Viggen, but because it shows the ‘either you get it or you don’t’ Saab thing. The owner, a real Saabist, loves them, so much so he’s taken the SPG to a different level of sorted, and when he was faced with having to accommodate a family, he plumped for one of the ultimate 4 door Saabs, a 9-3 Viggen. On the other hand, although Matt Farah has some great things to say about Saabs, they just don’t float his boat.

A great film just for the sound of the 900’s turbo alone.

Pimp My Saab

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So, it was the last local car meet of the season, and possibly the largest turnout I’ve ever seen, clear skies over nearly a 1000 cars of all shape and sizes, likeminded folks talking exhaust fabrication, stance and tyre stretch and the evening was finished off nicely with a perfect setting sun.

Last month there were a handle full of Saabs present, most were there again, but this one I hadn’t seen before, an immaculate black 9-3 saloon, from the interior, it looked like a standard Linear model, but that’s where standard stopped, twin exhausts, tints, dropped suspension and 18” alloys with heavily stretched rubber.

Love it or hate it, it was definitely a very well loved Saab and another one kept on the road for us all.

Saab 9-5 Aero Hirsch update

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Whilst I’ve been away relaxing in Canada for the past 3 weeks, the new Saab has been with Jason at Malcolm Miles for its health check and a number of detailing items that needed doing.

Most importantly, it needed a service, so the sump has been dropped and cleaned, new oil and filters added and the old gearbox oil changed. The Hirsch exhaust mount had broken on one side, and after a ridiculously slow conversation with Hirsch in Switzerland it became utterly clear they really couldn’t be bothered to answer properly, let alone help out (thanks for supporting Saab owners Hirsch), so Jason has managed to weld the bracket instead. It’ll be returning to the workshop in a few weeks for a new water pump, fix a broken stud in the cylinder head and pop a new belt on.

Non essential items have also been taken care of – a new door rubber fitted, a broken door card capping replaced and the latch altered to remove a slight gap. The all important bonnet badge has been replaced by a shiny new one, and I managed to pick up a genuine Hirsch carbon fibre dash from CardYourCar which has also been fitted and looks absolutely superb together with the Hirsch steering wheel.

I’m always happy once a new Saab has been to the workshop, not only do I trust the folks to do everything required to keep the car maintained beautifully, but it also gives them the opportunity to do a thorough review of the car, what’s good, what’s bad and even ugly, then I can work my way through everything to get the car as I want it.

I knew this Saab had been lavishly specified with virtually every optional extra, and I also knew it had an almost Hirsch Troll R spec list, but Jason also noticed it has an upgraded intercooler and decent induction filter too, leaving only a bespoke ECU upgrade by Karl at Noob on my list of wants.

Next on the list, the Hirsch alloys will be refurbished and new tyres fitted, the bonnet and bumper resprayed and a rear boot lip painted and fitted.

Canadian twin classics

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As far as Saab spotting goes, this year’s trip to Canada wasn’t a successful one, amidst a sea of bland cars I saw only a handful of Saabs, most as we were driving across Ontario, so I wasn’t able to take many photos.

However, my luck changed in the elegant Muskoka town of Gravenhurst, we’d stopped for the obligatory tourist wobble around and giant ice-cream when I saw not only one, but two classic Saabs parked outside a realtor on one of the town’s side streets.

The first was a beautiful red, well cared for 900 classic Turbo convertible whilst to other was a poorly looking black 9000 Aero. Rust had set in on the front and rear arches, the paintwork dull and interior used for a storage space, but in my eyes, well worth rescuing – if I lived in Canada I couldn’t have resisted attempting to save it though.

A number of nice 9-3 Aeros around and a 9-7 spotted in downtown Toronto, but not much else, I’ll try and do better next time.