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.
At this time time has run away, and it is summer 2013. Would Emil ever get the new engine in his car? Now there was two ways for Emil to reach his 500+hp goal; the first way was to save up those SEK 30 000 (~US$3 500) that was needed for a bigger turbo and a custom-built manifold, or he could use a original manifold with a modified original turbo (larger compressor and turbine) but then end up at ~400hp. Emil decided to chose the “lower power” option to start with, and then try to save up some money for the ultimate 500+hp goal.
Everything else was prepared for 500+hp, and the most of it was done. The complete engine with the gearbox mounted was ready for installation, so Emil decided to install the engine during one of his vacant weeks, then drive with original output a while so he was sure everything worked as it should be. The new engine was installed in a couple of days, and when it was time for the first start-up Emil was extremely nervous, had he done everything right? First he get up the oil pressure, the spark plugs was installed, and finally the fuse for the fuel pump. The big moment was there, turned the ignition and BANG – it was alive! Everything was okay, no leakage and the temperatures went up to normal levels, I can think Emil at this point was very happy! But there was a little problem, the clutch was not working properly, it wouldn’t free out properly. The reason for this is that Saab has a pulsation damper on the hydraulic line, and this was not compatible with the heavy pressure plate. The solution was to remove this function, the cons by doing this is that you get a heavy clutch, but that is the way it is with a heavy pressure plate. There was also another problem to solve before the first test drive, there was no vacuum pump drive on the new crankshaft, so that problem was solved by installing the same solution as the V6-engine has on 9-3, a vacuum pump.
This was a big day, Emil could finally do a test drive after nearly 4 years construction in total, but with some breaks. The car was now not mapped, but since Emil drove with the original injectors and air-filter box the engine went good. Of course it was not allowed to load the engine too much or give full throttle, but the characteristics from the 2.3 litre 9000 with much strength in the bottom was recognizable.
Now the big things was done and the new engine was up and running, but there was still things left to do in order to perform the mapping. New wiring harness to the fuel injectors needed to be built, a new cover for the air-filter box, the pipe for the airmass-meter and a new inlet pipe was going to be rougher. Emil got help from a friend that works with car diagnostic to build the wiring harness for the injectors, he also rebuilt the harness for the map sensor as theboost pressure would be higher then the original sensor coped. To make the rougher inlet pipe for the turbo was a little difficult, after some discussions with some knowledgeable friends Emil decided to combine the cover on the air-filter box from a V6 and a 4 cyl engine. That was cutted out and plasted together, and the airmass-meter was also moved and plasted into a rougher pipe.
The 9-3 is used all year round, and autumn 2013 Emil decided to give it protection against the terrible Swedish winter roads, that offers salt, slush, snow and ice. The car was given a undercoating treatment and a Ceramic PRO 9H treatment that Emil thinks is the worlds greatest protection for the paint, they says nothing protect just as well, and Emil is extremely pleased after the treatment, the car looks like new even if it has rolled 123 000km. Later this autumn Emil found some quite rare rims in the classifieds, he thought the price was good but suspect they needed a renovation to get them in that shape Emil wanted. They meet the next day, and as Emil suspected the rims needed a renovation but the price was okay, so he bought the rims and they became a light winter project to get the rims in order to spring/summer 2014.
Just before Christmas Emil bought himself a little present, a new head-unit for the 9-3. The choice fell on Alpine IVEW530BT, and with that Emil is more flexible when it comes to listening to Spotify or talk in the phone while he drive. A option was also to control the stereo with the original steering buttons on the wheel.
The refurbishment of the rims went on, after Emil bought them he sandblasted them, and in January it was time for painting. The biggest issue now was the colour choice, would he go original or something that stuck out a little? After a while Emil decided to go for the classic BBS colour, gold. The next step was to get the lip turned and high gloss polished and assembled, and since it is difficult to get clear coat to attach a polished surface and clear coat isn’t able to resist stone chips in a good way Emil decide to put on Ceramic PRO Strong protection on the wheels.
The Turbo X brakes also get the same treatment after some blasting and new paint, since the new wheels is quite “open” in their design.
The software mapping was still not done, and Emil know that his friends that was going to help him with this has much to do and Emil’s has even limited with time, but in the end they end up with to book a Sunday in March 2014, so on Saturday Emil started to prepare for the Sunday in the shop. The car was rigged on the rolling road and the MAP-sensor, the new injectors, the rougher pipes and the air-filter box cover was installed before the mapping started the day after. The mapping ran out well, they had 380hp at 6500 rpm and 1 bar boost, and with increased boost pressure in the lower register to get more torque it ended ip with 500Nm at 1.4 bar boost. To increase the boost more was’nt a idea because it just built up back pressure in the turbo. For more power a turbo replacement is the receipt. Now the car was mapped with ethanol, the next step was to map it with petrol to get the BioPower function.
After the refurbished wheels was mounted on the car Emil didn’t think they was so tidy as he first thought, there was one colour too much, and the rims looked smaller then they was. So a number of evenings Emil sat in front of the computer and looked for a alternative. He found some nice wheels in the US, but in the end he realized that transportation, taxes and customs would cost as much as the rims, so he gave up that idea. Suddenly he saw a friend of him was going to sell some rims that he had drove a few hundred miles on his Honda, the design was right but would they fit? After some thinking and investigation the solution was hub rings and bolts with floating cone, so Emil gambled and bought the rims unseen. A few days later he pick up the rims and bought new Dunlop Sport Maxx GT tires at ANA, a good prestanda tire. Even these rims got some Ceramic PRO, and to top it Emil made 4 new centre caps out of four hood emblems that had to be modified so they would fit. But when it was time to put the wheels on the car, there was a problem – the spokes crashed in the brake calliper! Emil tested with different spacers, but they built too much outward so it seems like the only solution was to grind the callipers. So with help from a friend Emil to get a nice bevel on the calliper bracket so the Zito rims would fit , it was only to put some new paint on the brackets and enjoy the sight of the new rims on the car.
Then many of you would call this project for complete, but Emil has some more modifications that we will read about in the last part.