My Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo update

Last week saw me get the latest round of upgrades done on my 1999 Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo.

For those not keeping up, the car already had a rear swaybar from Taliaferro, a front subframe brace made by my mate Aussielars, Viggen springs and dampers, steering rack clamp and brace, a replacement ECU and 3-inch cat-back exhaust from Hirsch.

In this round of upgrades, I decided to take things up a notch.

The Hirsch ECU was fantastic, but my generation 9-3 isn’t supported by them as much as the newer models are, meaning higher stage upgrades weren’t/aren’t available (as far as I know) and I was after a bit more grunt.

That got me turning to my friends – and site supporters – at Maptun. Fredrik did me a great deal on a stage 3 ECU, as well as the front section of the exhaust that I hadn’t replaced when I did the cat-back system. The new section is 3-inches from the turbo down and includes a hi-flow catalyst as well. The system is now 3-inch all the way through.

Picture, please!

That picture’s taken from the front and the observant ones amongst you will note that there’s no subframe brace there anymore.

Here’s Aussielars’ Viggen with the subframe brace in place. Compare that with the photo, above.

I had one the same, but now my exhaust is too fat so the brace won’t fit under it.

The car is now quite a bit more powerful and when you really give it some welly, the lack of subframe brace is notable. The car has a notable shimmy and it takes some strong-arm tactics to keep things on the straight and narrow.


I could get longer bolts and some spacers, but I think I’ll most likely bite the freight bullet and order one of Nick Taliaferro’s 6-point subframe braces.

The other thing I got done was to have a new clutch installed. To cope with the extra grunt, I got a Viggen clutch and whilst there was some early concern as to whether it would actually match the flywheel, everything was OK.

The end result – a car that sounds a little bit deeper, goes quite a bit quicker but is moving a little bit sideways under full load. The subframe brace should stabilise things quite a bit and then, I should be done……..almost.

I’ve already got a few more items from Nick Taliaferro on the way – a shortshifter and sports transmission mount.

It never ends!

My thanks once again to the guys at Maptun, who have been solid supporters of the site for a long time now. I can’t recommend their stuff highly enough – and that’s not just because they’re supporters here – it’s because their knowledge and workmanship are absolutely first class.

20 thoughts on “My Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo update”

  1. Looking good – the steeering clamp/brace is the best thing I ever pruchased – my Viggen became manageable in one move. My 6 point subbrace is awaiting my friendly expert’s availability but should be fitted very soon and I don’t know whether I’ll notice much difference – it’s hard to say what the further improvement could be – I gues sif you could have the time to fit each item in isolation you could determine which was the better but I’m happy to do all I can to keep the old girl on the straight and narrow.

  2. Swade, I highly recommend you get an upgraded billet steering rack clamp and brace; that has an even bigger effect than the subframe brace. Abbott Racing were the original designers/suppliers, but there are now (cheaper) copies available from other Saab parts suppliers if you search about. This stops the rack moving sideways in its crappy rubber mounts under load. Makes the steering much more precise and helps with the squirmy torque steer. You can also get cheaper copies of the Taliaferro subframe brace on eBay.

    Of course now that you’ve slid a little further down the slippery slope of tuning, what you really need is a nice big hybrid turbo like the one I am about to fit to my 9-5 Aero…

    • G’day Al,

      Have the steering rack clamp and brace in place. First thing I bought πŸ™‚ (I learned from owning a Viggen).

      Hybrid turbo?

      • Ah, good man. Makes a huge difference on the 9-3.

        I’ve bought a replacement turbo for the 9-5 that uses a bigger compressor wheel (“19T” instead of the standard “15T” wheel) so it shifts more air per revolution of the turbine, more air mass for a given boost pressure. It also uses the exhaust housing from a 9000 Aero, which is a little bigger than the 9-5 item, so has better flow on the hot side too.

        This is the final piece of the jigsaw to get me to Maptun’s “stage 4”, I already have the rest of the stage 4 hardware and the map. The original turbo doesn’t get on with the stage 4 map very well though, it just can’t deliver enough air, so I’m looking forward to having the proper set-up very shortly. I had a measured 283bhp and 435Nm at stage 3. With the current set up it was down on power and torque from that, but it should make over 300bhp and 450NM with the new turbo :o)

        I also have a 9000 Aero engine that at some stage will be rebuilt to suit the 9-5 (the bottom end is stronger) so that will give me the basis for “Stage 5” and around 350bhp/480Nm…eventually!

        I think that will do me. I’m taking bets on how long the clutch and gearbox will last…

  3. Ohh, that is beautiful. What about HP and Torque?
    I bought an OG900 the other day, but my line of work is keepin’ it alive, not enhancing it…. yet.
    Gave my 2010 Dame Edna to my wife when I bought my OG and she was happy. Hope she stays that way when I move out to live in the garage… πŸ™‚

  4. Nice work Swade!

    I’m jealous about the shortshifter…. but I’m always undecided about going for the sports mounts. I’ve heard some say that is increases vibrations in the cabin quite a bit, especially at idle… or with the aircon running etc.

    I’d love to hear how it goes once it’s done πŸ™‚

      • Oops, forgive me Al… I didnt realise you had them.

        Another mod to add to my list in the future πŸ˜‰

    • I have Nick’s sport motor mounts and sport transmission mount on my Viggen and it makes a huge difference. After 50k miles the standard rubber mounts turn into mush (great job Saab SVO!) and the engine start happily moving around under torque. The sport mounts really tie the engine down and shifting also gets sharper. In all it feels more solid and more acute.
      There is a bit more vibrations but nothing serious. However, the engine sound gets transmitted more to the cabin, but for me that just increases the driving fun.

      Swade, did you get the sport motor mounts already?
      Btw, be careful. With those 3″ pipes the squirrels will be crawling up your turbo.

  5. Yellow has always been a color I liked on certain cars…. that one is a killer! Very sexy…

    My wife says some cars fit the person better than others…. she has hated my Corvette from day one…. says they are for “Old men trying to be young”…. for me, I simply didnt want to pass on the good deal of buying a 454 equipped ‘vette cheap and put some time into it. Thats another long boring story…

    My ’88 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS is more my speed, my personality…. some grunt with a little luxury ( for it’s time) I’ll never sell this one and plan on a full engine swap/body paint in the coming years. Im thinking a tuned 5.7 liter at around 325HP will be plenty.

    however…. I think I could feel right at home with Swades car.

    It’s about two years to the day when I bought my first Saab and began hanging out here at SU. I must say, I never thought I’d drive a Saab and I sure as hell didnt think I’d ever come to love them as much as I do now.

    I cannot say how much I enjoy this place… SU is great and If it gets mothballed, I hope some of us can continue our dialog elsewhere…..

  6. 3 inch piping: any idea what that might add to the net power of the car, if any? Abbottt states a 10 hp gain (for untuned cars), but that atatement was only for the 9-3 I, and was absent from the info for the 9-5 exhaust.

    Also, will those fit the Diesel engines?

    And what about smoothening the interior walls of the exhaust?

  7. Great looking car Swade, you’d never lose her in a parking lot thats for sure.

    RE 74 stingrays comment about Vettes, go listen to that classic Prince song “Little Red Corvette”. Im afraid your wife is right about them, they come with a bottle of viagra in the glove box. πŸ˜‰

    • @ Zippy… hardyharhar um…the comedy club is that way (pointing with other than index finger)

      πŸ™‚ thanks pal… (geez) I know you are right however.

  8. Caution on the 6 point sub frame brace Stephen. I had one on my black 93 coupe with 300+hp and sitting on Eibach springs with Koni sport adjustable shocks. The brace probably lasted a year before I ditched it, it was pretty bent up from contacting the road under braking if the road was at all uneven. It sits too low. I hill climbed my car and used it in street sprints and the removal of the brace did not affect my times. A greater improvement I found was the larger rear bar which I believe you have and I then fitted the standard bar in parallel.

  9. Forgot to mention the 6 point brace is probably illegal in Australia as when fitted to my 93 I only had 75mm ground clearance and the law states minimum 100mm ground clearance.

Comments are closed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.