When I posted the pictures of State of Nine’s Hirsch-fitted Saab 9-3 last night I knew without a shadow of a doubt what the majority of comments received would be about.
The excellent finish of the leather interior? Nope.
The seamless integration of the splitter and rear diffuser? Nope.
The lightweight wheels that not only look fantastic, but give you incremental gains in unsprung weight? Nope.
The majority of comments were always going to be – and were – about price.
There’s no doubting that Hirsch stuff is more costly than other stuff out there in the marketplace. They don’t try to hide it and neither do State of Nine or other re-sellers of Hirsch gear, such as Elkparts in the UK. In a fiercely competitive marketplace like the US, that seemingly puts Hirsch at a significant disadvantage.
But there’s a couple of elements here that I’d like to explore and I’ll use my own personal experience to do it.
First of all, there’s the quality issue.
Hirsch are Saab’s factory appointed tuning company. That means for items such as their tuning and mechanical parts, that they effectively have to be even better quality than Saab’s own parts. If you’re going to increase the performance of the car and still provide the factory warranty then you have no choice but to do it with the best parts and engineering that you can.
There’s no compromise on this. Everything Hirsch fit to a modern Saab has to work seamlessly with Saab’s own factory parts or else the deal’s off. Unlike other aftermarket producers, there are consequences.
Hirsch’s interior trims are designed and manufactured to enhance your car but still maintain a factory appearance. Near enough isn’t good enough here.
In these terms, you get what you pay for. Hirsch stuff is the best there is for Saab. When someone starts doing the things that Hirsch do (and offering the same assurances that Hirsch do) for a much lower price, then they’ll have a significant worry on their hands.
For example – the leather interior.
I’ve got a mate in the UK with a Hirsch leather interior installed on his Turbo X and I’ve seen the leather interior myself in a Turbo X owned by Jorgen (from the SU Historic Rally Team). These are absolutely first class installations and they lift the interior quality and feel by several orders of magnitude.
Dave didn’t hesitate to get the Hirsch interior for his UK Turbo X and both he and Jorgen seem to still be enjoying it immensely, long after they forgot about the price.
I noted that in comments, some people are taking their cars to leather trimmers and getting a custom leather installation done at significantly cheaper money. I also noted that the quality of the finished product, whilst possibly better than the standard plastic dash, wasn’t anywhere near as good as the Hirsch product.
I haven’t seen any of those installations so I won’t comment myself, but why spend $500 on a job that might be seen in two or three years as compromised when you can spend $1,000 and have it right; from Day 1 and for the rest of the car’s life?
Put simply – the Hirsch gear is expensive because it’s so darn good.
My examples of Dave and Jorgen, above, lead me to something I tend to adopt as a personal philosophy as well: If you want something, and that particular something is good, then you’ll quickly forget about the price once you’ve got it.
Case in point:
I spent around $2,500 on improvements to my Saab 9-3 Viggen prior to my accident. Whilst I was planning those improvements it annoyed me to no end that Saab built such an excellent car on such a compromised chassis, one that I had to spend money on to improve.
But here’s the rub…..
Writing those two sentences was the first time I’ve thought about that $2,500 since the money was spent. Once I fitted the Koni shocks, the Abbott rack clamp and brace, the Taliaferro downpipe etc, the car was transformed and all thoughts of the money spent went out the window. I absolutely adored that car, and on the day I crashed it, it was running beautifully and was only going to get better as I further improved the car. My only thoughts about money were how do I raise the next bit I need?
Yes, there are limits. I wouldn’t spend $100,000 on fixing a car up and consider it money well spent just because I smiled once. But if the money’s reasonable and the result is transformational, then I’ll enjoy the product long after I forget about what I spent on it.
A non-car example….
Last year we bought a TV for our home. We replaced our 51cm Sony monitor-style TV with a 40-inch Sony Bravia LCD screen. The money we spent was an amount I’d never have previously considered for the purchase of a TV, but now that we’ve got it I wouldn’t have done anything different.
Every big movie, every sporting event, every concert I watch on it tells me it was money well spent.
Bottom line – Good stuff costs money. You can buy cheaper versions of the good stuff and in many cases those cheaper versions will function very well and in some cases, for a prolonged period of time.
But if you invest money in something like Hirsch’s gear, I’m very confident that it’ll continue to reward you day after day, drive after drive. And long after you’ve forgotten about the cost.
Whilst Hirsch, State of Nine and Elkparts are all sponsors of this site, this is not a sponsor’s post (which is why there’s no links to sites in this article). This is a philosophical post about the attitudes people take to enhancing their cars.
Whatever route you take, you should be happy with it. My argument here is that to worry about the price of factory-standard improvements to a modern Saab is a false economy.
You’ll love it every day own the car.