Last week’s episode (season 3 episode 10) of Top Gear (US) featured a 150 mph challenge: Get to 150 mph in the cheapest vehicle possible.
A ’95 Trans-Am ($2600), ’94 Infiniti Q45 ($1700 + $700 nitro conversion…) and Tanner picked a 9-3 Viggen ($3500).
“You and I both have V8s rear-wheel drive, Tanner has a front wheel drive four cylinder…” teased one of the two guys who (*Spoiler*).
If you own a Viggen, used to own a Viggen, has sat in a Viggen or just stalked one in the museum, this Top Gear (US) episode is for you.
Update from maanders in the comments section: Looks like this episode will be repeated here in the U.S. on the History channel at 11pm EST on Tuesday
TuuSaR just dropped this one in comments and I’ve rarely ever felt so compelled to share a video on this site.
In the next three minutes you’ll see lots of 90/00’s goodness, some great fast driving on snow and ice…….. in a Saab 9-3 Viggen……… and if you’re really quick, you’ll also see a 3.5 inch floppy disk (to our 13 year old ad competition entrants – ask your parents).
Awesome. The Viggen is awesome. And the tyres are pretty good, too.
I don’t know how many of you Saab owners have been autocrossing before. It seems to be the realm of the RWD owner, mostly. A quick scan of Dan’s Racing Ready archives will show plenty of BMWs and Miatas, amongst other things.
So when SU reader, Jose, turned up to a local autocross meeting in his Saab 9-3 Viggen Convertible, he was met with a few sniggers and a sign-in judge who actually said to him “You’re racing a Saab?! I don’t want to hear another Saaaaaab story when the times sheets come in. Its not a BMW!” as he completed his registration.
Jose didn’t mind. In true Saab Spyker style he just got in there, got his hands dirty and did the job he came to do – competing in the autocross. The Viggen looked pretty darn good, too, don’t you agree?
I’ll let Jose take the story from here…..
Afterwards the same organizers were giving out the trophies and announcing the winners. “In first place, Jose in a Saab?!?!” When I went up to receive my trophy, the douchebag again said, “You may have won first, but its still no BMW!” I calmly responded, “Thank god for that!”
The winning margin was just 1/10th of a second, but that’s enough.
My heartfelt congratulations to Jose for showing what a well-sorted Viggen can do and for putting some of the nay-sayers in their place.
And for looking so darn good in that Viggen whilst doing it, too 🙂
I have the best photo that was ever taken of my Viggen as my desktop wallpaper on one of the computers I use and as I fired that computer up this morning, I thought to myself “Wow! What an awesome looking car.”
This is the photo, taken by my mate Stu the lens genius. Many of you will have seen it before:
My mate Richo in Sydney had a Viggen until recently. His was actually much better than mine. He’d BSR’d it and it had a brand new engine installed last year with only around 4,000kms on it when he sold it. The young lady who bought it, Suzanne, got one heck of a good car for very good money.
I had the chance to drive Richo’s new car on the weekend, a BMW 3-series coupe. He bought it brand new. It’s got the detuned 6 cylinder so the performance isn’t hot, but it’s quite adequate. It’s very comfortable, looks pretty good (if you like that sort of styling) and definitely has quite a presence by the roadside.
Seeing my old Viggen photo again this morning made me compare notes in my head. Richo’s old car vs his new car. I can only do this from my perspective and I’ve only had a short drive in his new car but it was enough to form an impression.
The impression that I got was one of solidity. That’s probably the best word I can use.
The car looks solid. It looks like an evolution of its forebears and therefore has a solid history behind it.
The car feels solid. There are no moments as you open or shut things, as you operate any controls, as you drive, that suggest any sort of fragility. There are no “oh, I didn’t expect that” moments whatsoever. There are no moments where you wish they’d done something different.
The best example I can think of – and it’s a small one but demonstrates the comparison perfectly – can be found in the stalks that operate the indicators.
I’ve got Viggen fever again at the moment and there may only be one cure.
If you’re interested, read my recent Viggen piece, then click through for this video review by Motorweek.
If you’re using Internet Explorer, then click here and watch it at YouTube (then go get Firefox).
I want my Viggen back!!!!!! Every time I see one I’m more and more convinced they are the best of the post C900 Saabs. In terms of character, at least.
Thanks to Edward K for the link!
I’m trying to not think of this as buyer’s remorse, and I don’t think it is a case of buyer’s remorse, but I think I have to get this out of my system anyway, just in case.
Those of you who have been hanging around here for a while know that I’m a bit of a serial car-shopper. I don’t mean for it to be that way, but I guess I have a wandering automotive eye.
In January (was that just last month??) I ventured over to the Australian mainland and bought a car that I’ve been after for some time – a Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo. It’s a color that I love and it’s got an interior that I really love (esp now with the carbon fibre dash) and an engine with a heck of a lot of potential. At the price I paid, it really is the bargain of the year.
In addition to that I’ve got a classic flat-nose 16V Saab 900 Aero in silver that’s a joy to drive and has become a car that I’ve got more and more attached to now that it’s come time to sell it.
And in addition to that I’ve got my toy track car, the 16V Alfa Romeo 33.
When you consider that we’ve really only got room for two cars at out place and then you add in my wife’s Saab 9000 then you could well say that I’m rather spoiled…..that I should count my blessings.
So why is it that I’ve been seeing pictures of Viggens this week and feeling myself totally overcome with the automotive equivalent of teenage lust?
Continuing the weekend’s Viggen love-fest…..
If you own or otherwise love the Saab 9-3 Viggen then you’re going to find at least the first part of this review difficult. You may even want to throw something at the screen. Hang in there.
It gets better. Much better, in fact.
The following comes from Fifth Gear’s Modern Classics section.
The previous generation Saab 9-3 will never go down in history as one of the all-time great classics. Indeed, in Saab circles, the car is positively frowned upon for not having the requisite weirdness, longevity or left-of-centre image as the brand would have liked. Then, of course, there was the simple and unavoidable fact that, under the skin, there lurked the platform and basic running gear of a 1988 Vauxhall Cavalier. Not even a Vectra, but the five-door hatchback beloved of minicab drivers, banger racers and Ispon P40-wielding wheelarch repair fanatics.
To fans of the marque, the previous 9-3 was what could be deemed ‘not a proper Saab’. egatives aside, though, let’s look at what the car did have going for it. First of all, the wheelarches weren’t as rot prone as those on a Cavalier. Secondly, by the time the 9-3 debuted in 1998, there had been some major tweaks to ensure the original platform was at least capable of mixing it with modern traffic, unlike the outwardly identical 900, which used unmodified Cavalier running gear.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, was that despite the creativity-crushing presence of parent firm General Motors (a wilderness that, thankfully, the US giant appears to be slowly withdrawing from), there was still a bunch of hardy enthusiasts plucking away at keeping the traditional virtues of the Saab brand alive and well.
These were men who remembered the days when the 99 and 900 Turbo models not only introduced the world to affordable, accessible turbocharged saloon cars, but also gave a rip-roaring debut to the delights of torque steer, neck-snapping turbo lag and the adrenaline rush of driving a car that, although flawed, was brutally quick and utterly exhilarating.
By day, these same men were churning out interior redesigns to try and disguise the switchgear of old Vauxhalls on silver diesel-powered rep-spec 9-3 hatchbacks, but by night they were busy working on a car that would share its name (and performance characteristics) with a fighter jet.
The work of this covert performance division finally resulted in the 9-3 Viggen, which made its debut in 1999.
Power came from a heavily tweaked version of the 2.3-litre engine used in top-of-the-range 9-3s (and, refreshingly in a GM-policed environment, still exclusive to the Swedish maker), while visual identifiers were suitably subtle, yet noticeable.