I need your hypermiling driving tips!

This weekend, I’ll be taking the Monte Carlo on an economy run with other members of the Saab Car Club here in Tasmania.
It’s the first club event that car’s been on, actually, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not sure if there are prizes involved, but I believe it is a competitive event – aiming to use as little fuel as possible ever the 150km or so of driving we’ll do.
I’ve had a read over WooDz’s guide to driving for mileage, and I’ve got myself used to the idea of cleaning out ALL the clutter, staying within the first 3rd of the turbo gauge and slowing well in advance of a light.
But if anyone else out there has some experience with this type of one-off event and has some tips for a first-timer, please feel free to drop your advice in comments.
At least we get a free lunch!

On a personal note….

Apparently it’s a public holiday in Sweden today, so we shouldn’t expect too much news.
I’m relieved to be honest. It’s all been happening at a breakneck pace and I’ve been running on about 5 hours sleep a night for the last few weeks. I actually started having dizzy spells on Tuesday and ended up having a day off on Wednesday, which I spent on the couch in frustration that I couldn’t get The Matrix to work properly on our DVD player. Grrrrr.
It’s now been almost a month since I sold my Alfa 33, which means I’ve had my Monte Carlo as my main car since then.
I haven’t written much about the Monte since I got it, mainly because I was busy a) gathering parts to get into the shape I wanted it in, and b) enjoying the Alfa, which really was an absolute blast to drive.
Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo
I’ve got to say, though, that now I’ve been spending more time with the Monte, I’m really growing to love it. It’s supremely comfortable, looks great inside with all that black leather and carbonfibre, and it’s got that fantastic turbo rush, particularly at 3500rpm in third gear.
The car isn’t finished yet. I’ve done the wheels. I’ve half-done the carbonfibre work on the interior (well, Drew did, actually….). I’ve put on the subframe brace that Lars made up for me (champion effort).
Still to come are a tape deck replacement for the CD player, the steering rack clamp and brace and some new dampers and springs. The new dampers and springs should hopefully be on their way shortly, as should the tape deck. I’ve already got the rack clamp and brace.
Oh, and then there’s the Hirsch ECU to put in – he he he he!!!
All that should be happening quite soon, all going well, so I’ll have a lot more to write about and maybe a little video of the Monte as well.
The toy-car program has been put on hold for a little while and the money’s been thrust into our home loan to save us some interest.
I’m still very keen on a Mazda MX-5, but I narrowly missed a very good one in Sydney last week and just don’t have much energy for looking around right now. I drove a great one last weekend, but the guy wanted more money than I was able to pay.
I’m hoping there might be a quick overseas trip in my near future, too, so it’d make sense to wait until that’s all done and dusted.

Wednesday night snippets – in Sweden edition

All is quiet….
Saab finalised their redundancy plans yesterday and gave notice to 701 employees that their last day would be this Friday.
The original plan was for 750 people to go, with 650 of those being blue-collar and 100 white-collar. As it turns out, there’s only 55 white-collar workers leaving, with some having re-deployed to other vacant positions. 646 blue-collar jobs have been lost.
Of course, what we all hope for is that Saab will need these people back again some time in the near future as work ramps up again.
That all depends on the success of the search for a new owner…..
And on that front, Saab executives have put their Easter eggs aside for the week because they’re extremely busy playing host to potential buyers.
The race is on, with Saab hoping to get things sorted before the unnecessary complication that is a GM bankruptcy takes effect.
Eric Geers seemed a little tense about it all in a short article from TTELA today:
“It will be hard the next few weeks,” says Saab’s information director Eric Geers. Starting already this week is expected to an unknown number of stakeholders have come to Trollhättan, to acquaint themselves more closely with the company….
Time is an important aspect, as everyone knows,” said Geers about the rushed schedule. But as soon as we have the financing completed, we started our business plan. The last few days, the threat against the Saab owner General Motors further strengthened, according to reports from the U.S..
And quite what the consequences for Saab could be appears to be unclear to most.
“You do not really know what will happen if GM ports in Chapter 11. But the key for us is to continue the job of separating us from GM and to build up service for the future, “ says Geers.
And away from Sweden…..
The other day I talked about my Monte Carlo jobs for the weekend – subframe brace, headlamp bulbs, and smoky side repeaters.
Only one was too difficult to finish, and you won’t believe it, but it was the smoky side repeaters. One of them barely has enough cable attached to reach the fitting, mening that if I took the existing orange repeater off, the cable may get lost forever inside the guard.
I’m not sure what’s going on with it, but I think the plastic inner guard lining might have to come off this weekend so I can have a look.
The headlamps were their usual thumb-busting pain-in-the-clacker, but the end result is fantastic.
And the subframe brace was an absolute pleasure to fit and what’s more, the results are fantastic! The car feels noticeably more solid in the bends now. Lars has made up a fantastic bit of kit, there. It doesn’t look as pretty as the name brands you might be used to, but it’s very effective.
Photos to come on the weekend.
Oh, and another reason things might be quiet around here…..
Some guy’s just loaded all-new episodes of Wheeler Dealers up on YouTube.
I’ve just been watching them do up a Citroen DS. Awesome!!

EnG Convertible Shopping Snippets

In a complete left turn from Swade’s hard-hitting news coverage, I bring you some of the oddities that I’ve run across while shopping for a new convertible. Not really new, but one that’s new to me. After a brief flirtation with the notion of buying a Viggen convertible that’s reasonably close to me, I’ve decided to stay with the C900 for many reasons, but the primary one is personal preference. I’m just a classic 900 guy. The 9-3 convertibles that I’ve driven (I didn’t drive the Viggen) have also convinced me that they are just a touch smaller than I can reasonably drive regularly.
Seeing all of the nutty things that people will do to a car and seeing all of the mistakes that people make while trying to sell a car is just plain fun. You never know what in the heck these people are thinking when they choose their path. Read on for a few Saab oddities…..

Read moreEnG Convertible Shopping Snippets

It’s a small Saab World – meeting of the Montes edition

A few weeks ago I received an email from a young guy here in Hobart names James. He and his girlfriend (Elle) were considering the purchase of a Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo that they’d seen advertised on the internet. In conducting some further research on the car, they came across Trollhattan Saab and all my writings about the 9-3 Monte that I purchased earlier this year.
The Monte they were looking at turned out to be one that I’d considered last year. It was for sale in Sydney but I dismissed it after the dealer didn’t return any messages.
They went to Sydney for a weekend and included a look over the car while they were there. Happy with it’s appearance, they came around to my place with Elle’s father to take mine for a quick drive and get some more info about it.
As mentioned, this all happened several weeks ago and I hadn’t heard any more about it until I got another email from James this morning. He told me that Elle had bought the car, that her Dad and brother had picked it up from Sydney and that she was very happy with it, all of which I was very pleased to hear.
Now……Hobart is a small town. You bump into people all the time down here. Likewise, the Saab community is a pretty small community and given how distinctive the cars can be, you get to know the Saabs in your area pretty well.
Despite this, I was still pretty surprised when I pulled up in my local city car park today to find Monte Carlo #12 parked right across from me. It was only a matter of two hours since I found out that they’d even bought the car!
Please excuse the crappy cameraphone pic. That’s Monte #9 (my car) in the foreground and Monte #12 is across the way.
Congratulations to Elle on the purchase and upping the number of Montes in Hobart to at least three. I hope it brings years of enjoyment!!
It’s a small Saab world.

My Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo upgrade plans

This is my car:
Now that my 900 Aero has been sold and moved out of the way, I’m free to concentrate on making this car behave how I’d like it to. And that means a whole lot pain money upgrades.
The wheels and tyres were the first to go, shortly after I acquired the car. A few weeks ago, Drew B was kind enough to help me out with swapping the woodgrain dash panel for a blank one so that I could apply some Viggen-style carbon fibre treatment.
I’ve acquired a few other bits and pieces over the last few months and have a few other plans that I’m looking at.
Here’s how it’s all going down:
1) Steering rack clamp and brace – I picked this up from PFS at a big discount. The Abbott unit that I had on my Viggen cost me $500 plus installation back in 2007. This PFS unit cost $200 delivered. It’ll get installed in a few weeks.
2) Subframe brace – Lars S, a Viggen-owning Swede living here in Australia, made a subframe brace up for his car a few months ago. I asked him if he was taking orders – and he was! This will also be installed in a few weeks time and I’ll write more about it then. You can see Lars’ installation photos here and if any Aussies want to place an order, I can put you in touch. Lars tells me the brace is quite effective so I can’t wait to get it on there.
3) Upgraded ECU – I’m very excited to tell you that there’s one on it’s way. It’s in the post right now. More info when it arrives.
4) Koni dampers and springs – I definitely need the dampers, and sooner rather than later. I’d really like to get the springs as well, though I’m unsure as to whether the driveway will eat my car with it lowered a little. The Viggen was always OK on our drive, but I’m feeling cautious. The Koni dampers were superb on the Viggen, so I’m quote comfortable with the idea of going with them again.
5) Upgraded exhaust – I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do this shortly. It’s not a necessary thing, but it’ll certainly help the uprated engine breathe a bit easier.
6) Upgraded air intake – I’m wise to the fact that these don’t boost power, but as with the exhaust the upgraded air intake will hopefully allow for easier breathing and quicker uptake. The integrity of the filtration system is obviously of supreme importance here.
7) Upgraded intercooler – This is on the desirable, but not necessary list. I’m planning on keeping my Alfa through the winter for some club events and then selling it towards the end of the year. That’s when something like the intercooler would become a possibility.
8) Tape deck – also on the desirable, but not necessary list. My carbon fibre kit is made for a car with a tape deck, but my Monte has an in-dash CD player as well as a six-disc changer. I’d like to change out the CD player for a tape deck in order to use the full carbon fibre kit.

And yes, I’m going to de-pumpkin the car. The new smoky repeaters will get installed tonight.

Monte Carlo carbon fibre dash installation

Yesterday saw me drive my Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo up to Drew B’s place for some work to install the carbon fibre dash panel I bought recently.
The carbon fibre kit is basically a stick-on overlay, but it wasn’t as simple as that (is it ever?)
The Monte Carlo came standard with a woodgrain dash and it would have been a shame to let that go to waste. As Drew is fixing up a Saab 9-3 for his mother to drive, we thought it’d be good to swap the plain instrument plate out of that car for the woodgrain plate in mine.
Here’s the Monte Carlo’s original dash – it’s nice, but I don’t think it really suits the sporting nature that I like to ascribe to the car.
This is the carbon fibre dash in various stages of installation. I’ll do a complete post on the process of removing and reinstalling the instrument plate soon.
I use the term instrument plate rather than dashboard as that’s the term Saab use in the workshop guide. The dashboard is the whole enchilada, whereas the instrument plate is what you see being covered with carbon fibre in these images.
CFdash no wheel.jpg
My final conundrum is what to do with the rest of the kit. I have carbon fibre panels for the entire lower section (HVAC, etc) and center console, right up past the window switches.
If I want to put the full kit on then I need to get a tape deck to replace the CD player you see here, because the kit is made up for a car with a tape deck.
The people who sold this to me said they used to charge Saab Australia $800 to fit these. It must have been as an aftermarket accessory as this definitely isn’t up to the same standard of fit and finish as my factory Viggen carbon fibre.
Still, it’s a pretty good likeness and I’m very happy with the end result. For just $50, who wouldn’t be?
My thanks to Drew B for the outstallation and installation work. As mentioned, more photos of the whole process will be coming soon.

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