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.

Carlsson Saab 96 replica leaves Reims for Monte Carlo historic rally

Pete Backstrom from the Saab Museum has sent through a few images from the start of the Monte Carlo historic rally in Reims, France.

The car in the images is the one that’s been painstakingly built by the guys at Oldtimer Markts, a magazine in Germany. The magazines editor, Peter Steinfurth, is driving the vehicle with navigator, Thorsten Löber. Unfortunately, a missed time control has meant their early retirement from the race.

The car still looked fantastic at the start, though. Erik Carlsson himself was there to wave them off.

I’ll have some more imagery about the build of this car in the next couple of days.

My thanks to Peter for the images.

Before the start…..

Erik given the honours, waving them off….

And moving a blaze of speed and fury 🙂 …..


Saabs leave Poland for Monte Carlo Historic Rally

We showed some Saabs leaving Stockholm for the Monte Carlo Historic Rally yesterday, and the Erik Carlsson replica will be leaving from Riems, in France (more on that car shortly).

Today, some photos from Poland, including some Saabs that left from Warsaw to go to Monte Carlo for the event. All photos were taken by Robert W from the Saab Turbo Club, and sent in by Justyn D. I’m told there should be more tomorrow.

Click to enlarge….

Saab at the 100th Anniversary of the Monte Carlo Rally

RedJ covered the press release relating to this story yesterday, but there’s a little more that I wanted to share with you today.

Peter Backstrom, from the Saab Museum, is heading down to Riems, in France, today. He’s taking Erik Carlsson along with him and together they will salute the chief editor of Oldtimer Markts magazine, Peter Steinfurth, as he drives off to compete in the Monte Carlo historic rally.

This is significant as Mr Steinfurth will be driving a replica of Erik Carlsson’s Monte Carlo winning Saab 96 – a car the magazine staff have been building especially for this race.

You can see some video of the two-stroke engine being fired up for the first time here.

It’s also significant because this year’s Monte Carlo historic rally celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the original event, which began in 1911. Erik Carlsson won the Monte Carlo twice in a Saab 96, in 1962 and 1963. Lesser known is his 4th placing in 1961 in a Saab 95, which had he placed three spots higher might have been one of the only times a rally of such significance was won by a driver in a station wagon!

Peter Backstrom has his camera on hand and will hopefully share some images from the event when it’s all done and dusted.


A pre-start event was also held in Stockholm a few days ago, and Jörgen from the Saabs United Historic Rally Team was on hand to get some photos and video.

The cars were waved off by Bo Hellberg, the former director of the Saab Rally Team and there was a very nice two-stroke Saab 96 amongst them.

Jörgen and Bo Hellberg….

Some of the starters in Stockholm….

And some video of the Saab 96 two stroke of Fredrik Ekendahl leaving from the KAK club in Stockholm….


SAAB returning to Rally racing?

Not exactly.

But an exact replica of Erik Carlsson’s car from 1963 will start at this week’s XIVth Monte Carlo Historique.

The press-release from Saab reads as follows:

The classic Saab 96 has been created by German vintage car magazine Oldtimer Markt and will be driven by chief editor Peter Steinfurth and navigator Thorsten Loeber .They will take the start at Reims this Friday (28 January) in a car that recreates the original in every detail, right down to the 283 entry number Erik used that year. He will be on hand to wave them off.

Saab 96, 1963 Rallye Monte Carlo. Specification:
Engine: 3 cylinder, two stroke longitudinal
Displacement: 841 cc.,
Power: 70 hp (52 kW) @ 6000 rpm
Front wheel drive, 4 speed gearbox with freewheel
Brakes: Discs at front
Tires: Dunlop SP 155×15


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 🙂

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 🙂

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.

Thursday Snippets – Aztek edition

Am trying – and loving – Google Buzz. Not having to log into a separate platform like Twitter is quite refreshing, although I still like Twitter too.
Photos and video to come later today, but as I sit here writing this, my Monte Carlo is getting fitted up with a beautiful 3-inch Hirsch Performance cat-back exhaust*.
Am I excited? Yes, I am.
A woman in Alabama refused to allow her son to use his father’s surname, which happens to be Saab.
She actually got thrown in jail for this. 5 days for each offence.
Don’t mess with the Saab, lady!
Want more of this?
Start here and keep click the photos to the right…..
Off topic, but in tune with my advertising interest…..
I can’t believe that David E Davis got this column on Go Daddy’s superbowl commercial so darn wrong.
Actually, I don’t understand why he wrote it in the first place, but that’s beside the point.
David, the ads aren’t meant to compete with Snickers. They’re meant to get people familiar with web hosting (not you, I know) to go to the Go Daddy website to view the full ad and then look around at services. It’s sexploitation at its most basic, but it obviously works for Go Daddy as they’re back year after year.
Is the Nissan Juke the ugliest car since the Pontiac Aztek?
And does it combine this most uncelebrated of monikers with being less functional than the Aztek at the same time?
You decide.
Disclosure: Hirsch Performance are the only company with whom I exchange advertising for product and this exhaust, along with the ECU I recieved last year, are payment-in-kind requested by me for advertising services at TS and SU.

Saab 9-3 anti-roll bar – fitted!

This morning I ticked another job of my Monte Carlo upgrade list by fitting my new anti-roll bar. Of course, all credit to Mike900, who inspired this purchase with his great writeup of the purchase, fitting and driving story on this subject.
I, too, picked up my anti-roll bar from Taliferro in the US. The price was right and the freight, whilst expensive here to Australia, was very efficient. Half a world in just over a week? No problem. The part left Taliaferro’s warehouse just over a week ago and today it’s fitted to my car.
I won’t repeat Mike’s installation story, but will show my use of the ‘natural jack’ we have at our place. Given that the 99T is now occupying the garage, I couldn’t use the only flat parking surface at our house. The good part about having a big sloping driveway, though, is that it allows you a bit of room where it falls away from the footpath.
As you can see, there’s sufficient clearance underneath, although laying down on the slope isn’t ideal and it got a little cramped up around the rear axle.
It might have been a bit inconvenient for pedestrians, too, but what the heck…..
Given that I didn’t have any supports to hold the bar in place, and things getting a little cramped around the rear axle area, it was a slightly tricky job. It still didn’t take long, though. Probably about an hour or so.
I used a pair of ring spanners to get the nuts tightened as things were pretty tight in there, with a couple of fluid lines adjacent to the bolts. Once they were all snug, out came the torque wrench and then it was test drive time!
The effects
In a word: sensational.
I took it for a quick drive down one of the local twisties and the confidence and stability provided by this sway bar is a real and tangible improvement. Turn-in is much, much better especially at socially-responsible but slightly higher speed 🙂
The bar does have an effect on regular driving, though. It’s subtle, but it’s there. Firm up the suspension and of course, you’re going to feel more of the road. Such is the case here. It’s just a case of more constant feedback from the road, but if you’re the type who prefers comfy cruising then this may be something to think about.
If you’re like me (and many others) and prefer that your car with sporting pretensions be a little more capable, then you won’t worry about it for a second.
They’re my quick additions to what is a very comprehensive writeup by Mike900. If you missed it, check it out here.

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