Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo update

The 99T isn’t the only ongoing project around here at SU central….
I’ve had my 1999 Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo for almost a year now and it’s been a very enjoyable ride. There’s a few things that have proven to be very satisfying about this car.
Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo
The main one, for me at least, is that I was always interested in owning one of these from the first time I ever saw one. It’s great to fulfill a particular Saab ownership dream.
Like many automotive dreams, however, the real thing proved to be not quite as good to drive as the mental image I’d formed in my mind (hello, Porsche 944). So as with the Viggen that came before it, I’ve set out to improve the car – and I think it’s working.
Things done so far…..
Front subframe brace – easy to fit, made by a Saab mate here in Australia (Aussielars). A subtle piece of kit that I need to re-torque as we speak.
Steering rack clamp and brace – the #1 essential upgrade every owner of this generation of car should do. Minimises torque steer to the point where you forget what it is.
Viggen springs and dampers – These aren’t as good as Konis, but the price was right and they’re much much better than the old saggy suspension that was in the car when I bought it.
Open air filter – easy fitting, loved the sound, am unclear about the effects but the unit starting making a vibrating sound I didn’t like. Stock air filter now re-fitted, awaiting upgrade next week.
Hirsch ECU – My first experience with an ECU upgrade and I’ve absolutely loved it!! The extra performance was instantly noticeable and turned the car from being adequate to very, very satisfying indeed.
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The Hirsch ECU has been a blast, but in what I suspect is true tuner fashion, I’ve recently been looking elsewhere. Just for that little bit more.
Whilst visiting with the Maptun guys in Sweden a few months ago, they hooked me up with one of their Stage 1 ECUs so I could try it out. I finally got to fitting it to the car last week and right now I’m one very happy camper. The car’s spooling up even quicker at this point and puts a smile on my face every time I hit the accelerator. I like it so much, in fact, that I’m now putting an order in for a Stage 3 version so I can get just that little bit more – again.
As mentioned, the Hirsch ECU has been fantastic, but they don’t support my model car anymore as they deal with current generation Saabs as Saab’s official tuning house. If I want to take this car a little further – and I do – then I’m more than happy to do it with Maptun.
Of course, all this means I need to a little more work to get the full value out of the Stage 3 setup.
So, in order to improve the handling a bit, I’ve followed Mike900’s lead and placed an order for a 22mm sway bar from Taliaferro. My UPS tracking number tells me that one’s just left Kentucky and is on it’s way here 🙂
I also ordered one of Maptun’s new drop-in sports air filters, which has arrived here in Tassie and is now sitting at Saabill’s place (he ordered one of the new Maptuner upgrades for his new 2007 Saab 9-3). I’ll get that one on Monday.
The final piece of the puzzle will be a new exhaust system, which I’m still contemplating at this point. I’ll definitely get one, it’s just a matter of checking the bank account and seeing where it might come from. That’ll probably happen early next year.
I think that should probably be enough tweaking, but you never know.
I’ll post the next round of upgrades as they happen, but at least you know the plan.

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