The State of Saab in Australia

The last new Saabs arrived in Australia in 2011, a mix of 9-3, 9-3x and new 9-5’s. Since then we know the story worldwide has been Saab’s demise, the saga involving NEVS and the rise of ORIO AB. But here in Australia things haven’t been so up and down I suppose. Saab Australia closed in 2013 with the loss of 6 jobs, we were fortunate enough to have a small population of NG9-5’s but no 9-3 Griffin’s.

So where do we get parts? Well, we have one official importer of genuine parts Alec Mildren a former Dealer and most of the ex-dealerships still service cars in the capital cities but nothing exists regionally. Which leaves us with the dilemma of ordering parts from dealers, shopping online or going to one of the few Saab dedicated wreckers located in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. In my opinion I’d like to see ORIO AB properly launch service programs and a proper website with web shop, but seeing as we are a small market I find this unlikely to happen.

My 2004 Saab 9-3 Aero at Mount Hotham, Victoria, Australia
My 2004 Saab 9-3 Aero at Mount Hotham, Victoria, Australia

What about the car supply? There is a steady stream of classic 900’s and 9000’s all the way up to modern 9-3’s and 9-5’s. Prices are low which makes the market a great for potential buyers.

To Be Continued…

39 thoughts on “The State of Saab in Australia”

  1. It’s been pretty good here in Perth, Western Australia: we’ve got a few official importers of parts, and two rival garages. There’s a bloke, Kevin Surlock in Leeming; he designed the auto gearbox in the old 900 and he’s the best mechanic I’ve ever met.

    I’d hate to be an owner who payed tens of thousands for a new one, but as someone coming into the market in the last few years, buying a GM900 for a grand and an OG 9-3 turbo coupe for $2500, it’s been lovely.

  2. As a NG95 owner – I’m starting to see the parts situation slowly erode. Our NG9-5 are now 5-6 years old and unless ORIO steps up – I think its about time to start dumping our precious NG9-5’s.

      • John; The law of “supply and demand” rule. Frankly, overall demand for SAAB products is in the toilet.

    • me too. Been waiting 6 months for a replacement 3rd tail light. Have my ad ready to go on but can’t bring myself to activate it. Probably go until the end of this year but I reckon it will be hard to achieve a reasonable price for her, which is sad really.

      • When there is inadequate morsels, even lowly opportunistic insects abandon the bones of the corpse.

        • Sad situation to say the least. In the U.S., we know there is no “collectible” aspect to any modern Saabs except for the hardest of hard core Saab enthusiasts and that’s less than a blip of a blip on the radar. “Needle in a haystack” is an understatement. Resale is in the tank and I haven’t needed parts in a long time, but from what I understand, parts are available for the most popular GM era models. As long as that keeps up and I can find service from people who don’t rob me—-I plan to keep my 2004 9-5 wagon. And I will continue to proudly whine about the failure of NEVS.

          • I’d just like to mention I have a 2002 Saab 9-3 and my wife has a 2003 Saab 9-3 vert, most important parts are easily accessible. In the past year I’ve bought struts, stut mounts/bearings, DIC cartridges, water pumps, an alternator, grill cover for tow hook, a battery cover, neutral safety switch, two CV axles, and the list goes on… Seems my Saabs are at that magic point where all the big things break. I figure if I can ride it out and make it through to the other side I’ll be set for another 100,000 miles again. Seriously, on my wife’s car every major component except the engine, transmission, and alternator has been replaced in the last year, and I plan on doing the alternator just because I rather not leave her stranded (like I was) when mine went bad.

            • Wow, how many miles are on those cars? If I start seeing expensive repairs, I will dump mine in a heartbeat. I love my Saab but there are other choices and with no future for Saab, and NEVS at the helm, there’s nothing and no one to be loyal to with the marque. It’ll be time to move on when I get my first $1000.00 repair quote but I’m hoping to hold that off for a long, long time. It’s very low mileage as I have 4 other cars.

              • The miles on BOTH cars is around 130,000. Not an amazing track record if you ask me. Also the AC in both has failed in the last year and a half, and frankly I just don’t have the money to fix them. The radiator on my wife’s car broke because her rear engine mount failed, this lets the engine rock back and forth under acceleration and actually cracks the plastic end tanks off the aluminum radiator. As for the neutral safety switch, alternator, starter… I really can’t say why those failed so early. DIC cartridges seem to only live about 120-150 thousand miles, and the CV axles had to be replaced because the boots ripped. Actually I changed the boots, but the circlip holding the cv joint to the shaft came loose. They seem to be a one time use part, and the kit didn’t come with new ones. Didn’t think reusing them would be an issue at all… until 13,000 miles later when the shaft pulled out of the CV and ground it into shrapnel. Water pumps… I’m not sure how often they fail, but the o-rings that connect the block of the engine to the water pump fail and eventually you’ll leak 16 ounces of coolant a week from those o-rings, and replacing just the o-rings seemed dumb to me since it’s such an involved (about 5 hour) job.

                That being said I’ve never owned a new Saab, only bought them used for cheap. The fact no one wants a Saab is more or less the reason I have them. I fully appreciate the heritage and design as much as any Saab nut, but being young and having little income means my choice of vehicles is limited.

                • I have the 2004 9-5—–I think the motor mounts might need to be replaced soon. There’s a little more play then there should be and vibration. I wonder how much that repair is and if it would be a good idea to replace before a massive failure of some sort?

                  • The only improtant one is the rear engine mount (it’s between the engine and firewall). What happens is the engine can sort of rock like a swing forward and backwards when that mount breaks, and ironically the engine vibration is stronger when that mount is good, so you may be ok. I don’t know for sure what the failure looks like on a 9-5, but I know very well what they look like on a 9-3 as I’ve fixed 3 of them to date. A picture is worth a thousand words, as you can see when Saab engine mounts fail it’s catastrophic (parts wise speaking). It’s like a rubber ball filled with oil, eventually the rubber gets dry enough it rips and completely seperates. All the oil (to dampen vibration) comes out, then the two halves of the rubber ball seperate fully.

                    • When I drive the car, I don’t notice any vibration that’s radically different than when it was new—-but it might have degraded so gradually, I never really noticed. The repair shop recommended replacing the engine mounts, but not sure if they were the rear ones. I guess I always associated the vibration with the fact that it’s a four cylinder engine, not exactly known for being smooth as a Lexus V8.

              • Angelo, from what I am told, a $1,000 repair isn’t very major these days regardless of the brand. Personally, I’d be willing to roll the dice on mechanical repairs to keep driving my SAAB, but mine is a bit newer (2007). Fortunately, it has been trouble free so far – an unbelievably reliable car. However, when it reaches the point of visible rust attack I’ll be moving on too.

                • $1000.00 isn’t major, but my experience with cars is that they reach a certain age and one repair follows another. I don’t want to start putting major money into a car that in two or three months, will have another big repair, and then another. It’s not only the money, but the lack of confidence in getting in and driving. You end up putting a lot of money into an old car and in this case, an orphan where parts and service will be more and more difficult to come by. That said, my 2004 has been very reliable so far too—-minor issues but for the most part, a great car.

          • The inherent superiority (and reliability) of GM era SAABS, along with the GM parts bin concept, will keep those on the road longer than pre-GM dinosaurs. Practicality and cost of labor is another issue, however…

            • I totally agree, with the second gen 9-3’s a lot of the suspension parts that are shared with the Vectra can be bough from Holden (Holden Vectra) Dealerships without the horrendous mark up. For example I needed new brake rotors and pads several Saab dealers quoted me $600 with the same part number I went to Holden and paid $450 and the parts arrived in 2 days.

            • For the NG9-5 its all the “unique” SAAB parts that I’m concerned with. Saab claimed during the launch that the car was 70% unique to SAAB. This includes the entire exterior (drive safe) and interior parts like the steering wheel and infotainment buttons. You could make an Opel or even a Camaro ZL1 steering wheel work but the badge on the horn would be different and I doubt the lighting would match Saab’s green instrument lights.

              • I remember sitting in the VF Commodore and the amount of parts that came from the GM parts bin e.g. The headlight switch would most likely fit in to an NG 9-5. But if you had to replace basic instruments like widow switches etc green lights could be soldered on but it’d be highly unlikely that parts such as that would go.

            • I have found the major killer of the pre-GM “dinosaurs” (at least in my area) is RUST rather then mechanical or parts issues.

              My C900 and daily driver 9000 are still reliable and very good mechanically but are being eaten away by the tinworm. My other 9000 has virtually no rust and I’m trying to keep it that way. (So no winter driving for that one after the salt hits the roads!)

              At one point I had thoughts about maybe picking up one of the NG9-5s once they got to be several years old, but seeing how bad the parts situation is already I’ve pretty much given up on that idea. There are just too few of them out there to keep up the parts supply.

  3. Being an Aussie living in Florida USA, why don`t you try to use the good natured bloggers on SU to find you stuff outside OZ. I have contacted Saab dealers in Sweden direct and had them ship me stuff. I have an indi Saab guy in Lake Worth Florida, who has heaps of 900, 9000 and 95 parts. Also has a bunch of parts always on offer. My email is [email protected] if I can help fellow Aussies.

  4. The sad thing is it still *looks* like a modern new model. although I’m not a fan of the powertrain, the exterior styling is timeless and in many ways was ahead of the market. The interior ergonomics are outstanding and should live on as an exemplar for driving position, outward view, comfort, and support. As far as interior fit-and-finish as well as quality of interior materials…not so much.

    I would have loved to have seen the mid-cycle refresh – Saab could have easily addressed these issues.

    • Phew! As a fellow Aussie Saaber (hi, aaaplay) I’m sure there’s a hell of a lot more to say about the Saab world here.

      I know a guy building a RWD Toyota Celica with a B2*4 heart.

      I know a guy who owns 2x 95’s, a 96, a 99 turbo, 2x 900 turbo, an og9-3 Aero coupe, and a 9-3SW.

      We have some amazing mechanics, solid clubs, and these great conditions that help preserve classic Saab’s.

      And I have 3 Saabs myself, recently adding a V6 SportCombi to the garage.

      The state of Saab down here, despite there being no Corporate body to snuggle up to, is pretty damn good. And I’d say it’s the same wherever you find Saab fans.

  5. With a classic 900 in beautiful shape, I keep my fingers crossed. When my Air Conditioner failed, I was very fortunate to find a serviceman who was able to modify a standard A/C to fit in place of the original.

    • I think the parts situation is far better for the classic 900, NG900, all 9-3 models, and 1998-2009 9-5’s. Its just the NG9-5 and the ultimate Saab unicorn – the 9-4X – that are going to have parts issues over the horizon.

      By hey, if ORIO is out there and reading please prove me wrong! Up the production of all NG9-5 parts and keep the ~10,000 cars produced from 2010-2011 on the road for years to come.

    • “fingers crossed”? Yes, that activity will indeed indemnify all of SAAB-land of all future repairs!

  6. Agree, in Melbourne myself and my 2008 Aero jet-black wagon stands above most new cars in style….seems Nissan have taken over the front look of a 8 yr old Saab. Imagine what Saab would have looked like now given the chance. Criminal….have updated the interior and exterior with most possible Hirsch additions…..removes some of that flimsy plastic…..have a maptun update which makes the car sing…today installed top end pioneer system for Sat nav. Fits like a glove , sounds great and updates the interior again.. only 60K so will be keeping this one for a while. Why pay for a new car which in my opinion are no better than a 2008 Saab. As the installer said today they were ahead of there time..even with one hand tied behind the back…..anyway Saab on…

  7. I`m trying again if I can get past the firewall. How can we get our contact numbers out to my fellow Aussies from an Aussies in Florida that know of Saab parts in the US?
    Can the board of saabsunited be the middle man for contact with other saabers if they fear we need protection from Hackers etc.
    We are all grown up with great cars that we are all trying to keep running. Saabunited PLEASE help us help each other.

  8. I still see a fair few Saabs on the road over here in Western Australia but wait a few more years and they will be a rare sight. I didn’t own a Saab until 2011 and even then it was an old ’97 9000 with 150k km on the clock. I put on a further 100k in 3 years as my daily driver and its still going strong and I wouldn’t want to part with it. Fortunately I’ve been able to maintain and do most repairs myself. A favorable exchange rate was useful when buying parts from Europe and the US (even after shipping) but those days have now gone. I lusted after a NG 9-5 but the uncertainty surrounding the whole Saab future and ongoing parts availability put me off. I only hope that Saabs will be considered as worthy by aftermarket parts manufacturers to continue to produce spares at a reasonable cost so we can keep our cherished Saabs on the road.

      • Impressive to see the concern and knowledge about saab parts down under in australia. I suggest that the the unique parts are maybe available from donor cars. As suggested on this site if you buy one buy another for spare.

        • More yunk yards are appearing with saabs however they can and up in the shredders, be alert to get some unique parts out of them in time.

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