Upgrades on the way for my Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo

For those of you who are new around here, this is my car…..

Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo

It’s a 1999 Saab 9-3 SE Sport, known as a Monte Carlo here in Australia. We only got 50 of them here, each of them numbered. There are various configurations – 3-door, 5-door, Auto and Manual, all of them with a B204R engine, producing 200hp in manual form. Mine is #9, a 3-door manual.

Since getting the car, I’ve fitted the following:

  • 17-inch wheels from a 9-3SS with Continental SportContact rubber
  • Steering rack clamp and brace
  • Custom made front subframe brace
  • Rear sway bar
  • Carbonfibre dash kit (originally fitted to Viggen here in Oz)
  • Hirsch stainless steel cat-back exhaust
  • Hirsch wastegate actuator
  • Hirsch performance ECU
  • Maptun performance air filter (I have a Speedparts one as well)
  • Saab 9-3 Viggen dampers and springs

I’ve had the car for two years now, which is pretty good for me πŸ™‚

I was considering replacing the car some time early this year, but some circumstances have arisen that have made me reconsider. Instead of selling, I’m now upgrading a few bits and pieces.

It became evident shortly after the Hirsch ECU upgrade that my clutch was wearing. I’ve put up with it for a little while now, but I figured that this should be the first upgrade.

Hence, a Viggen clutch has been ordered and should arrive later this week, along with a few other goodies.

Since I’m uprating the clutch, I figured the car could do with a bit more power and some better breathing. Soooooooooo…. I emailed my mates at Maptun to see what they suggested.

Along with the clutch, I’m now looking forward to receiving:

  • Maptun Stage 3 ECU
  • Uprated Forge wastegate actuator (matched to ECU requirements)
  • A big, fat downpipe to complete the exhaust system.

I’m told these upgrades should be good for a theoretical 280hp and around 400Nm of torque.

UPS tracking tells me they’ve left Melbourne, so I’m hoping for a call from my mechanic tomorrow to say they’ve arrived. If so, I reckon I’ll be risking a ticket some time early next week πŸ™‚

At the same time as this stuff’s installed, I’m going to get my airbag and stereo controls back, and get Steve the mechanic to look at the front end for an occasional knocking noise.

Sometimes not buying a replacement car can be fun, too.

39 thoughts on “Upgrades on the way for my Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo”

  1. I think I’m pretty familiar with the english language even though I’m not native speaking. But I notice when it comes to technical stuff I’m all gone :). Rack clamp and brace?? What the heck is that. Rear sway bar? No idea. Need to check a lexicon. But it sounds like nice upgrades Swade:-)

    • The steering rack clamp and brace strengthens the attachment of the steering rack to the body and reduces torque steer to nearly zero. It’s the one modification that anyone who owns an OG9-3 should do, especially if boosting the output from their engine.

      The rear sway bar bolts on to the rear axle (replaces the factory part) and stiffens up the rear end in the corners a little.

      • Phoenix – you might be more familiar with the British-English term for the sway bar – anti-roll bar.

      • Believe me, even the NG-9-3 (V6 Aero, at least) demands every possible modification which reduces torque steer .__. Don’t know how many times I’ve been about to side-collide into the nearest Audi or BMW at red lights… πŸ˜‰

        And damn, that Monte Carlo still looks good! How many 11 year old “standard”-cars can you say that about? I can’t come to think of any other brand than Saab.

        • I think it’s more fun to give them a head start (save tyres as a bonus) and let that turbo torque do the talking from 3rd gear onwards. (suspect some of that Saab ‘hatred’ has to do with this πŸ˜‰ )

  2. swadey… you should get it dynoed before these new upgrades first if you have time? then again after to see the improvements!

    Quite jealous here!


    • The Google Ad on the front page of SU is showing a huge banana next to the photo of your car…


  3. i lost my #44 monte last year however i was lucky enough to replace it with viggen πŸ™‚
    good luck with upgrades.
    danny from sydney

    A nice replacement πŸ™‚

    • tnx i’m very very happy with a viggen.
      swade any chance that you know the number of imported viggen’s in Oz..

      • No, I don’t, unfortunately.

        I had a Viggen myself a few years ago, until an unfortunate day at Baskerville raceway…….. I don’t want to recall it lest people start pointing at me and laughing. It was eventually repaired and is owned by a guy I know in Sydney. One day I’ll buy it back from him πŸ™‚

        • Yep, I bought my Viggen in Summer 2007 and was trawling the web for information. The first thing I hit was a video of a crazy Tasmanian wrecking his Viggen during a track day. That got the whole TrolhattanSaab/SaabUnited addiction started.

        • Your Monte is beautiful btw.
          I hope you draw less police attention with that MC Yellow in Tasmania than I would do here on Long Island. We learn to stay away from all those nice ticket inviting colors, they make our nice officers turn their attention away from their donuts and coffee. Grey and drab rule.

  4. Hey Swade,

    I just put the Forge BOV on the Viggen the other day… it sounds great, and changes the throttle response a little as well.

    But you’re going to want to put your open air filter back on the Monte again….. the sound will be great. I think the funny hooting noise you mentioned a while back will have disappeared with the addition of the Forge BOV.

    I bought the open air filter pod for the Viggen, and the car just sounds delightful these days.

    Actually “delightful” isn’t the right word…. It sounds like rumbling thunder… true to the Viggen name πŸ™‚

    Happy driving.

  5. I love the yellow (as you might know)!
    Is the monte yellow sedaqn also available as LHD?
    Would be a nice replacement for my wife’s VW Golf…
    if I only could convince her πŸ™

    If you’re in the US, there are yellow Viggens available. – SW

      • Martin,
        there are no montes in Germany.
        In 2008 I almost imported the first monte to Germany, but it was not my time to buy cars πŸ™

        In my next life I will be millionaire and have a huge Saab museum πŸ˜€

  6. Swade…I noticed on Gumtree that there was a SAAB Service sign, not used, for 70 bucks…if you’re interested in dressing up the garage. It was located in Howrah I believe..

  7. Swade,

    You should budget to have all remaining original bushings replaced at the same time as the clutch. Most of the front suspension will have to come out, so there’s no point paying your tech to reinstall 12 year old bushings (if that’s even possible). If your noise is caused by a ball joint, you will need to replace one or both front lower control arms. These come with bushings (which you can replace with polyurethane if you want). The rear (stanchion arm) bushings don’t benefit much from being swapped to poly.
    The tie-rod links (between the steering arm and struts) may also need to be replaced. Use original parts only, they are not much more expensive, and they last much much longer.

    You should definitely get the car aligned once its back together.

    I put a Viggen clutch in my 9-3 last year, and one of the great benefits is that the front end is much tighter than it used to be.

    • And replace the engine and transmission mounts with something stiffer, the originals turn into jelly after a couple of years. Nick (genuinesaab) is making sport mountings in house.

  8. Nice one Swade! I’ve always dreamt about having a yellow 9-3 with Maptun stg 3. The one thing I would do diffrent is a Viggen body kit πŸ™‚

    • Well, I have mixed feelings about the front airdam of my Viggen. Although it looks nice it is actually too low for practical use. I have to be extremely careful with curbs, exits from gas station and especially getting on and off ferries. This low airdam is the sole reason I don’t like my wife driving my Viggen. I’m seriously considering cutting an inch off from the bottom. Anyone knows of some inexpensive air raisers?

      • The first week that I had my 1999 Viggen, I went too far into a parking space and the airdam partially removed itself. I couldn’t get it reattached properly, so about $40 later it was back on. I have to go into my own driveway on an extreme angle and very slowly to ensure not hitting it, and have to watch out at any kind of bump. I definitely agree that it is nice looking, but much too low for normal use.

    • Wow ! that’s great !!
      Didn’t know he had a 9-3 once. I believed he owned some 9000s is that right ?
      I still like the Abba sound; its timeless Swedish quality, just like a Saab…
      Let me know if you ever sell it… πŸ˜‰

  9. Whatever you do, I suggest you do NOT sell the car. It’s very rare and #9 is a low number. In the immortal words of Jay Leno “I never sell anything, that way I don’t have to say, I remember when…”

  10. I think you should be adding a strut bar or maybe two of them .. and you will be enjoying the Saab like a Go Cart πŸ™‚

  11. As for the knocking ..

    Go through the usual procedure: Spark plugs / Airmass Meter / DI Cassette Updated

    Been there, Done that.

  12. The statement “Sometimes not buying a replacement car can be fun, too” is not only dam true but at times what many of us long for as the satisfaction, rewards and overall feeling when you make improvements are huge and can’t be the same as when you buy a new Saab. Granted, the feeling of owning a new car is too a unique experience with lots of rewards however, a car like the Monte is itself a great feat and getting this to the levels that Swade wants to bring this to gives you a huge adrenaline boost. Swade, make sure this one does not end up in the streets of Sydney, no more track days please !!!

  13. Very envious Swade, especially as I have just ruined my old black 9-3 Aero (Abbott Stage1)
    no power involved-all that was required was a low curb and a steep ramp. 5 mph…Β£2000.
    tis a sad day for Toby.

    Watch out for hidden low down obstacles with that Monte-even your airdam is quite low. She’s pretty I’ll grant you that.


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