Resurrecting a Classic. Crafting an Outlaw

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Over 3 months ago I purchased what looked like a very nicely maintained 900 classic in Scarab Green, all I can say is, looks can be deceiving.

It’s previous keeper had owned it for a number of years together with another 900 classic and had come to a point where he couldn’t maintain both, so advertised this one for sale. On the surface of it, it drove beautifully, had reasonably tidy bodywork and a decent interior. We collected it from Birmingham and had a pleasant return journey.

Morning came and I went outside to find 2 flat tyres and a flat battery, hum, not a good start. I got the foot pump out, boosted the battery from the 9-3 convertible and got it down to Malcom Miles as fast as I could – until a few weeks ago, that’s where it’s been, intensive care for Saabs.

Although it was pretty solid overall, it had rusted in pretty much every normal area these classics go in. After nearly £500 on welding alone, including a partial front end rebuild, it was given a full waxoil and finally feels as though it’s back to its tank like solidity again.

Although it already seemed to drive beautifully, it’s undergone a full and thorough service, with new radiator, brake discs and pads, a full stainless steel exhaust, thermostat, correct battery, hoses, wires and numerous other items to ensure reliability for years to come. We’ve sorted the stance too, Abbott Racing lowered springs and a set of Bilstein shocks.

This is never going to be a perfect example of a classic 900, but I wanted to keep another great Saab on the road, an everyday driver that wore its battle scars with pride, a Saab Outlaw shall we say. I’ve gone for a set of 17 inch graphite, 5 spoke alloys from Driftworks with slightly stretched Falken rubber, we’ve changed the dash over for one without a million cracks and also managed to pop in a full on Turbo cluster with working Turbo gauge.

In my normal excitement I also purchased everything required to convert it in to an Aero spec T16S – body kit, Turbo, ECU, Intercooler and even the Turbo badges, but as this is a father and son project and will be enjoyed by us both, we’re leaving it off until his initial new driver issues have been overcome, an LPT is plenty enough for now!

I had secretly kept a set of 9000 Aero front seats to pop in, but the grey velour ones already fitted are ridiculously comfortable and are pretty much in perfect condition, so they’ll remain for now.

Next up, I’m currently searching for an old school roof rack and rear window louvers, so if anyone knows of some available, please, please give me a shout, i’d be forever grateful.

*Photos courtesy of my iPhone 6 only (sorry).

Boost Matters in Alaska. Outlaw style does too.

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Flicking through Instagram looking for cool Saabs as you do, I came across an image that really made me stop and stare, a classic 900 Aero Turbo, in red with a black tailgate, super nice swooped up exhaust, louvers, roof rack and a seriously tight stance.

Owned by a family man in Alaska, it appears he’s a bit of a Saab fan, and by no means his first Saab project.  This has to be one of the nicest outlaw Saabs I’ve seen, it’s got some real unique detailing which won’t be liked by everyone, but I love.

I don’t know the entire spec, only what I can see and read, but one of the headlights has been replaced with a small LED light leaving more space for the intercooler pipe, an oval has been nicely cut from the hood for a new exhaust, and a huge intercooler sits proudly under the bumper. The standard grille has had the centres removed with a floating Turbo badge revealing 2 Hella horns mounted inside, the springs have been cut to give it the perfect ride height, spacers push out the white Aero wheels and chunky Winter tyres finish it all off nicely.

Power wise, it looks like it produces a very healthy 250hp, and in the owners words, this is what’s been done : 2.1l head / intake manifold, ’85 exhaust cam, 3.0 bar FPR, distributor mod, jak stoll ecu, T5 injectors, 3″ exhaust, wastegate helper spring, Swedish dynamics APC”

Love it when Saabs are given a new lease of life, one thing’s for sure, it looks like it’s been perfectly crafted for the Alaskan landscape.

This is Boost Matters Instagram, well worth a follow

Saab vs. Saab

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For those of you that follow the blog, you’ll know how much time, effort and money has gone in to my 9-3 HOT Aero convertible, but the time has come to pass it on to another Saab guardian and move on to another Saab project.

I’m still not entirely sure I’m being logical about this, but it feels right and there’s little more I can do on this one. It’s super fast and yet understated, it’s comfortable, reliable and puts a huge grin on my face every time I drive it, especially with the roof down, any season.

I’ve set an extremely sensible reserve sub £5k in the hope that another enthusiast will grab it and enjoy it as much as I have done, but without breaking the bank. I still ask myself, what other car could provide this much individuality for that price?

Although I’ve listed everything on eBay, here are the highlights :

Bilstein B8 shocks
MapTun springs
Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin tyres
9000 Aero 2.3 B234 bottom end
New Turbo
New clutch
New gaskets
Water pump
Chain set
Jetex stainless Steel exhaust
APH ‘Albert’ Performance stainless steel downpipe
DO88 intercooler / MapTun hoses
BSR Induction kit
Upgraded fuel pump
Bespoke Noob Tune 300hp (Stage 4+)
9-5 Aero 308mm upgraded discs and callipers
Steering rack clamp
Bulkhead brace
Saab Wind Deflector
Upper mesh grille
Upgraded headlight bulbs

Without putting it in for a Dyno test, the 300hp, Stage 4 is a conservative estimate by the lovely folks at Malcolm Miles who’ve worked on this since I bought it back in 2014.

You’ll find loads of posts on it’s progression within these pages, and I’ve very possibly missed out half the things I’ve done to it over the years. Feel free to ask questions. Please god let it go to someone who loves Saabs and will appreciate it.

Here’s the eBay listing

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.