Archive for April, 2007

Saab 9-3 SportCombi – Shattering Perceptions

Posted on 30. Apr, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Automobile

Mark Maynard is one of the most important car critics in southern California, with coverage throughout the West Coast. Here is Mark’s most recent write-up of the 2007 9-3 SportCombi 2.0T, following his participation in the Saab 60 Year Anniversary media event earlier this year. The article has inspired other bloggers suggesting the 9-3 SportCombi to be named the “best Saab ever”.

Saab’s Small Wagon Shatters Perceptions – Bend Oregon Weekly

by Mark Maynard — April 27, 2007

The Saab 9-3 SportCombi is a well-built European import that is inspiring to drive and treads lightly on the planet and your bank account. Its only fault is that it may leave too small of a footprint for a big family.

The name “SportCombi” is clever deodorizing in order to mask the blunt term of “wagon,” but it works. There are no rooftop luggage rails to betray the design, and the driving experience is light and lithe, anything but the perception of a wagon.

Saab got its start in car making by using its aircraft engineers as designers, and the influence continues today. Pilots were accustomed to controls between the front seats and Saab still puts the ignition there. Lighting for the center display of audio and temperature controls can be switched off at night. And look for the jet-plane figures in the cargo-panel handle and elsewhere.

The standard model has a starting price of $28,240, and includes a turbocharged 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine that doles out 30 mpg on the highway.

The test wagon was a special-edition tribute to Saab’s 60th anniversary as a carmaker. The anniversary package with options pushed the final price into the low $30,000s, but it also added desirable anniversary extras, such as special Ice Blue metallic paint and unique 17-inch alloy wheels with Continental tires. Inside, there is handsome, black leather seating with gray inserts and stitching, an upgraded audio system, eight-way power passenger seat and more.

Transaction prices are running about $500 less than suggested retail pricing and several incentives have been offered.

To trim the price, you could pass on the moonroof and save $1,200; however, this is one of the few that can be used wide open on the highway without painful buffeting to occupants.

A five-speed Sentronic automatic transmission adds $1,350. The automatic allows manual shifting, but there’s a frustrating gap in performance as the turbo spools up power and the automatic chooses the correct gear.

If you have any hand-foot coordination, at least try the six-speed manual. The clutch is light and gear engagement is foolproof. It makes better use of turbo power and gives an enjoyable shifting experience.

The cold-weather package ($550) adds heated seats and powerful headlight washers. However, fluid use between the vigorous, multijet blast of the windshield washers and the headlight system could require refills as often as gasoline.

The navigation system is a $2,145 option, but it doesn’t include a backup camera, which may seem unnecessary – until you’ve tried it. Save money with a portable navigation system, which is available for as little as $700.

Also not offered is one-twist start of the ignition, a feature now common on most imports in this price range, and one-touch down and up to the windows. These feature just one-touch down.

But for those moving up from less-empowered vehicles, there is much to like about this wagon.

The 210-horsepower engine has plenty of power, but not all of it is available when leaving the light, which is most noticeable with the automatic.

Ride quality is Euro-taut, never jarring and well isolated from harshness. The four-wheel disc brakes are one of this car’s best attributes, giving absolute response without grabbing. Electronic enhancements include brake assist, brake force distribution and corner brake control to balance weight transfer.

Continental all-season ContiProContact tires give a wide contact patch on the road, but may contribute to the wide, 39-foot turning circle.

Inside are all the comforts of the luxury class without the gizmos and gadgets. The design is contemporary but sturdy and durable for family use. There is much attention to detail and plenty of places for storage. But the pop-out front cup holder for the passenger seems a design afterthought, and a possible safety concern in the event of a crash.

The weak link to all this good Saabness is its compactness. The front seats can be restrictive for those much over 6-foot-2, the back seat area legroom is cramped for growing teenagers and the center seat is small with footroom obscured by the exhaust tunnel.

For the young family with two small children, the 9.3 is an ideal starting point. And by the time the family has outgrown the car, the new and larger 9.5 SportCombi will have been thoroughly redone and ready for the next chapter of family life.

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Saab Enthusiast reconnects with 1990 Saab 900 SPG

Posted on 30. Apr, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Chip Lamb

William ‘Chip’ Lamb, longtime Saab Owner, Enthusiast and owner of West of Sweden SAAB, from Richmond, Virginia has recently reconnected with a previously owned 1990 Saab 900 SPG.

Here is his story in his own words. Enjoy.

In early 1996, I was having my pocketwatch repaired at a small shop in Madison, NJ. One Saturday afternoon, I parked my 1991 900 sedan along the side of NJ Route 24 for a few short moments to retrieve it from the watchmaker, when a large dump truck lost control and careened into the sides of no less than three vehicles, mine bearing the brunt of the damage.

Dismayed, I called my insurance agent at home, who came out within two hours of the incident and declared it a total loss. Not surprising, since the entire left side of the car had been peeled back like a sardine tin. Had I been inside, however, I might have received some cuts from flying glass but the seat area was undamaged. In fact, the car ran and drove rather well, all things considered, the short distance I attempted to move it.engbayr_600.jpg

Monday morning, the promise of cash-in-hand, I looked around for available vehicles on three SAAB dealer lots – I wanted another 900 as nice as my 52,500 mile example. Sadly, my options, even at that time, were rather limited. However, a rather dusty example of a 1990 SPG caught my eye in the back of Reinertsen Motors’ lot. With 8 miles short of 90,000 on the clock, it was not as low miles, but the price ended up being right on, and a day or two later, I drove it home.

Despite a few added squeaks and rattles and some very unattractive 5-spoke star pattern SAAB accessory wheels on the car, I liked it immensely. I drove the car down to Virginia when I moved a few months later, made some running improvements and kept it another year before being talked into an interesting trade for another car. I kept in touch with the new owner who was enjoying his new SPG and we became fast friends. Every so often, I pined for the Talladega Red turbo and wondered why I had let it go, but it never bothered me for long.

In the summer of 2006, I found myself at my friend’s house in Northern Virginia as I awaited the arrival of someone over at Dulles Airport. We talked for an hour or so, and as I walked back out to the driveway, I looked into his single-car garage. There sat my old SPG, rather dusty, but in nearly the same condition as I had let go of it in 1997. Ed explained that he had not been driving it lately. “Don’t sell it without letting me know!” I said. Ed replied that he would not let go of the car except to me, and only then if I wanted it.

I called him right after New Years’ 2007 and asked him if he’d like to follow through on his offer. He agreed and we settled on a price. A few months went by with no activity, but I decided I needed to do the honorable thing, and called some friends of mine with an excellent SAAB service facility (S&S, Warrenton, VA) offering them the opportunity to reawaken my old car. They shot up to Ashburn, VA, retrieved the car on their flatbed truck and refreshed it most of the way so that I could drive the car home to Richmond, as I did without incident.

To date, I am finishing some tasks I wanted to do myself now and will take it on a nice ride up to Import Carlisle in May.

Photo Credit: Chip Lamb

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1995 Saab 900 SE “Pikes Peak” – Saab USA Heritage Collection

Posted on 30. Apr, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA


After a rich career that lasted a quarter-century, it was clear that the brand-defining Saab 99-900 series deserved a worthy successor. The Swedish company had started design and engineering development during the mid-1980s, but found itself in financial trouble as a weakening dollar quickly deteriorated its business in the all-important U.S. market.

By the end of 1989, General Motors Corp. emerged as the white knight for Saab, initially taking a 50-percent interest in the car company. Beyond financial support, GM Europe was also instrumental in providing technical components and systems that led to the completion and launch of the “New Generation” (NG) 900. It debuted in the summer of 1993, initially only in a five-door hatchback configuration.

Its familiar name and design profile notwithstanding, the NG 900 was indeed new from stem to stern. The front-drive powertrain was now transversely mounted, saving space while offering a first in Saab history: a 2.5L V-6 engine, in addition to the tried-and-true, four-cylinder turbo. A unique aircraft-inspired innovation was the “Black Panel,” allowing the driver to shut down all instrument lighting except the speedometer and emergency lights. 1995_saab_900_se_pikes_peak_interior.jpg

To prove that all of these changes didn’t diminish the core qualities that dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts held so dear, Saab accepted a very tall challenge indeed: to race up the steep gravel roads of Pikes Peak, Colo. faster than any car in its class.

By the time the dust settled, the 1995 three-door, 2.0L Turbo Saab 900 SE made its point. The New Generation was here to stay.

REF: Pikes Peak “Race To The Clouds” 1997


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SAAB 96 – Production Photography – 1966

Posted on 29. Apr, 2007 by .


There have been a number of SAAB 96 advertisements both in print and television that have surfaced recently, so as a good follow-up to this content, I have recently received some never before seen photographs taken of the SAAB 96 in Trollhättan, Sweden inside of the factory during production in 1966. These photographs were kindly donated by SAAB enthusiast and Two-Stroke Expert, Tom Donney of Donney SAAB in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

These photos are quite incredible and so spectacular that they appear almost like they were taken recently with a high quality digital camera. Thank you for providing these photographs for the Saab community to enjoy.

There are a lot of photos, so please be patient while they load.

Photo Credits: Bud and Martha Babcock (deceased) by Tom Donney


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SAAB 96 Print Ad – SAAB Motors, Inc. – 1961

Posted on 29. Apr, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Motors, Inc.

This is one of the early print advertisements done by SAAB Motors Inc., in New York City of the SAAB 96 on May 7th, 1961 that has recently surfaced that I thought had an interesting headline and copy.

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SAAB 96 Television Advertisement – 1960

Posted on 29. Apr, 2007 by .


This is quite possibly the first SAAB 96 television advertisement that has recently surfaced which was done in 1960 from what I undertand. The video is great, however there is no audio unfortunately. Enjoy.

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Saab Clubs hold “Born From Jets” tour at Smithsonian Aerospace Museum in Washington, D.C.

Posted on 28. Apr, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Ben Hinkle, used with permission

Saab Clubs hold “Born From Jets” tour at Smithsonian Aerospace Musem in Washington, D.C.

On April 22nd, 2007, the Central Pennsylvania Saab Club as well as folks from the Washington, D.C. Saab club visited the Udvar-Hazy Aerospace Museum nearby Dulles International Airport in the Washington, D.C. area. The fact that Saab Automobiles are “Born From Jets”, makes this event location an appropriate venue and was apparently quite an exciting experience with approximately 18 Saabs showing up from all over the mid-atlantic region representing both clubs.

cpsc_logo.jpgThe Central Pennsylvania Saab Club was founded in 1985 and has nearly 250 members and is growing. Prior to the event, they will be planning on organizing a convoy, so that all members of Saab club can enjoy a wonderful trip together.
wassaab_small.jpg The Washington, D.C. Saab Club was founded in the Capital region in 2000 and consists of members from Maryland, Virginia as well as Washington, D.C. proper.Today, the Washington, D.C. Saab Club consists of just over 100 members strong.

For more information about the Saab Club of Pennsylvania’s website visit and the Washington, D.C. Saab club at their website here

To find out more about the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Udvar Hazy Center, visit

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German Federal Minister of Transportation at Saab stand

Posted on 27. Apr, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Automobile Germany


Photo Credit: Saab Automobile Germany

This just in from Saab Automobile Germany.

Saab at AMI Leipzig

German Federal Minister of Transportation at Saab stand

Leipzig – After the AMI Leipzig’s official opening ceremony, a delegation of politicians and economists visited the Saab stand late in the afternoon. The Federal Minister of Transportation Wolfgang Tiefensee, Burkhard Jung, Lord Mayor of Leipzig and Leipzig trade fair CEO Wolfgang Marzin led the group on their tour. The environment-friendly BioPower cars from Saab were especially of interest to Wolfgang Tiefensee and the other participants.

The Swedish premium brand Saab is the leading technological pioneer and European market leader in bioethanol-powered cars. The Saab BioPower models particularly distinguish themselves with their combination of driving excitement and environmental sustainability. The CO2 emissions of the enviromentally-compatible cars are almost balanced, as bioethanol is based on natural renewable raw materials.

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Production Concept