9-3 2.2 BioPower “Griffin” Aero by Emil – part 2

Many of you who have been at any Saab meeting in Sweden during the last couple of years has maybe noticed a good looking carbon grey 9-3 “Griffin” sedan. This 9-3 is special in many ways, the first thing is that the car isn’t that you first thought when you saw it – in fact this is a 2009 9-3 Aero, but it’s completely converted to a 2012 9-3 Griffin optics and interior with something extra. The second thing, and for me the most impressive, is what you maybe don’t notice even through the bonnet is open – the engine. In this car the original 2.0 BioPower engine replaced with a 2.2 litre BioPower engine, and it is the story about the engine we are going to tell here.

This is article number two in the story about Emils 2.2 “Griffin” Aero. Part number one will you find here.


The disaster for Saab was a fact and as we all remember the bankruptcy that occurred on 19th of December 2011. That was a tragedy for all Saab enthusiasts, also for Emil. The urge for buy one of the last Saabs produced was enormous, 9-3 Griffin had been manufactured a few months in the spring 2011 and Emil think that was the best looking 9-3 of all the 9-3 SS that was manufactured. There was a few cars standing since the bankruptcy, would Emil afford to buy one of there cars? What would he do with the engine? Griffin has a different direct injected engine, and much is changed from the 2011 9-3 that have a Trionic 8 engine to the 2012 9-3. After a few weeks thinking Emil decided to buy a new 9-3, but NOT a Griffin. That would be too expensive, and the plans with the new engine would go down the drain. The plan now was to buy a 9-3 BioPower 2008 or newer, preferably with as much extra equipment as possible within a certain budget. The search was on, and after a few months I found my dream car.


Emils new toy!

It had by now become May 2012, and the Saab I found was a carbon grey 2009 9-3 Aero BioPower with leather interior, pilot-package (a package with extra equipment, in Sweden it consisted of; powered front seats with memory on drivers seat, alarm, comfort-locking, parking sensors and the rain sensor). The car was on a auction site (KVD.se) and the auction would be conducted on a evening midweek. Sadly Emil was working that night, but he managed to place one of his breaks to the end of the auction. The price drifted away over Emils budget, but with some quick thinking over how much more that would be needed to get this and how much the economy allowed Emil placed a last bid. THAT WENT ALL WAY, and Emil was now owner to a 9-3 Aero BioPower! The only thing left was to sort out the last details with the bank, and a few days later Emil and his father headed down to KVD in Strängnäs to pick up the new car. When they arrived Emil saw the car parked along the fence, and the gorgeous colour together with the bright grille parts in the front did that Emil was a little boy again, with a new toy…
But before he headed home a look over the car and a test drive so he was sure everything was as described. It tuned out that it was even better then Emil had hoped, all services was done and to top it it had the big BOSE stereo! Of course there was some scratches and flaws, but all that Emil know about, but the plan was to switch to the Griffin-bumper, so that didn’t matter. There was nothing to complain about, just to sign the papers, look happy and drive it home!

emil_rebuild_exhaustThe project with the new engine would now continue in the new 9-3, so Emil decided to move over many of the parts he had already mounted on the ’05 Aero. But the plan for the new car was even that it should look like a 9-3 Griffin, so now Emil had to different project for his new car…
The work started by moving over the 345mm Turbo X brakes, the lowering kit and the new shocks, the Turbo X door trim, Hirsch door and and brake handles. But some of the stuff was not “bolt-on” on the new car, the exhaust system did not fit because the BioPower cars have a lager petrol tank, so that had to be rebuilt. Luckily Emil got help from a friend who is good at welding, and they built a 3″ system from the turbo to the rear axle, and from the rear axle end back they use the twin-pipe system from Hirsch. The Hirsch wing was glued to the trunk, so this was necessary to cut loose and the trunk had to be repainted at the ’05 Aero. When it came to the gearbox and clutch Emil didn’t want to pick down both cars at the same time, so he arranged for a loan of a 6 speed gearbox to avoid take down the gearbox from til ’09 Aero. Everything was now fixed at the ’05 Aero, and Emil put it up for sale, but now it was so good that he was tempted to keep is as a second car, but he needed the money from the ’05 Aero to finalize the new ’09 Aero, so in August ’12 the ’05 Aero was sold and now Emil only had one 9-3 to concentrate on.

emil_ALU105_centreSo how to proceed with the ’09 Aero project? Following Saabs bankruptcy, ANA Trollhättan buy much parts from the bankruptcy estate so Emil took the opportunity and bought a lot of parts during the summer of 2012. A Griffin Aero front, a bumper cover for the rear bumper, a black Griffin leather interior, 19″ turbine wheels (ALU105, intended for the new 9-5), a Turbo X steering wheel, the Turbo X glove compartment trim, the Turbo X panel around the gear lever, a Hirsch diffuser, the Griffin Aero trunk lid moulding, new emblems and the Griffin Aero dashboard. The new 3-piece Griffin grille and the new Ice-block headlights wasn’t possible to get at that time. The plan was to build a Griffin Aero with TX package, when Saab started the production of 9-3 Griffin it was possible to choose a “TX package”. The package included door sills trims, glove compartment trim, panels around the gear lever and a steering wheel – everything like the Turbo X spec.
The new ALU105 19″ turbine wheels was not “bolt-on”, as they are for the new 9-5 and have a larger bolt-pattern (5×120, 9-3 has 5×110) so some work had to be done. Emil had also a friend who could help him out here, he put the rims in his NC mill, and make som new holes and indentations, Emil machined then some steel sleeves that were pressed into the rims.
Everything was installed during the summer/autumn 2012, and in October 2012 the car almost looked like a Griffin. Some things remained, like the headlamps and the Griffin grille – these was backordered but Emil had placed a order for that stuff at ANA in Trollhättan.

So what about the new engine? As you had read earlier, the base engine was almost ready, just fitting and minor details remained. The assembling took place under the autumn 2012, and when the base engine was ready assembled Emil had a list of what remained; Turning flywheel, turning distances to the fuel injectors, mount a vacuum-pump, install manifold and turbo, and rebuild the air-filter box.

emil_injector_distancesEmil started with the distances to the injectors. Original they are in plastic, but because this engine would have others injectors then original (Bosch 985cc) they wouldn’t fit. After they were ready the next thing was to mount temperature sensors in the manifold to see the exhaust temperature of each cylinder.
One day in November the spare part department at ANA called Emil and said they have recived the new 3 piece grille, so now it was only the Ice-block lamps left before Emils 9-3 looked like a Griffin. After a visit to the used parts department at ANA Trollhättan it come clear they obviously would get a delivery from a retailer who had purchased a part of Saabs bankruptcy estate. After some weeks Emil got his lamps and the lamps was mounted, even 18″ winter tires was mounted – Emil wants to ride with style during the winter too! At this point the “facelift” was finally done, now the ’09 Aero looks like a ’12 Griffin Aero, with a little Hirsch candy.


emil_pressureplatemodBut back to engine again, now it was time for the flywheel and clutch. There was no flywheel that fitted “blot-on” because Emil uses a crankshaft from a 2.2 litre Ecotec engine. Emil considered use a flywheel from Opels 2.2 litre engine, but the clutch that Emil had in his minds would not fit, so the only option was to manufacture his own flywheel. Regarding the pressure plate, the plan was to reuse the one from the old ’05 Aero, that was a 570+Nm pressure plate from Sachs. But when it came to the disc there was a problem. There was a lot of trouble with the ’05 Aero when it came to the clutch, and this time Emil wanted it right from the start. He wanted a organic disc so he could slip and use the clutch like the original clutch. The range among those who sold such heavy discs to Saab was equal to zero, so a proper investigation took place to find a suitable resilient organic disc. After much investigation and measuring Emil found a disc that could handle 600Nm, but the disc doesn’t fit as he thought when it arrived. The centre of the pressure plate was too small for the discs resilient centre, so what to do now? Emil didn’t want a unsprung disc, because he was forced to have a tight flywheel. After some more measuring Emil decided to modify the pressure plate, he milled the centre of the pressure plate a bit so the disc could go into the centre of the pressure plate.

After a few weeks the production of the flywheel started. A lump of almost 40kg was bought from the local steel trader, and after a few days milling and turning the future flywheel was down to 8kg. The ring gear was heated up so it would be possible to install because this will be a interference fit. Finally the flywheel was balanced, and there was none imbalance, guess if Emil was satisfied!

The fuel supply is also something to think of with so much more power then the original engine, so how good is the original pump in the 9-3 BioPower? A in-car flow measurement was done and Emil found that the pump was unable to pump the amount of ethanol needed for 500hp. So a pump that was capable to 400 litre/hour was bought and mounted at the same location as the original pump.

There will be two more parts in the story about Emils 9-3, in the next part the new engine meets the car…

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