SU Saab Desktop Calendar – August 2009

It’s here!
Yes, I’m loving the Saab 99 Turbo at the moment, so it should come as no surprise that the first calendar of the new series features Brendan B’s beautiful black Saab 99 Turbo.
The photo was taken at his recent track session at Oran Park in Sydney and I’m most appreciative for Brendan’s permission to use the image here.
Thanks also to a new contributor to SU – Calendar Guy – for putting this together so well and so quickly. It’s on my desktop already and is looking sensational!
The image above links to a massive 1920 x 1200 image, suitable for a 24-inch screen.
Click the image to enlarge, then do a “Save As” to download it to you computer (right click on your mouse). You should then be able to resize it to your monitor’s requirements.
Welcome back, desktop calendars!! What an awesome way to admire your fellow readers’ rides.

Hopelessly devoted to changing cars…..

Eggs and I have just got involved in a really exciting project for next year. It’s in the baby stages at the moment, but progressing very well and I hope to be able to start talking about it a bit more by the end of the week.
In getting it going, though, I read a comment by one of the guys leading the project and he said something that hit me right between the eyes – don’t ever sell your first Saab.
Then, last night, I posted a Saab Pride piece from Jochen in Germany, who has kept his first Saab 900 in addition to buying himself a MY09 Saab 9-3 SportCombi.
Am I sensing a trend here?
This is not my first Saab. My first Saab was a 1972 Saab 99E with an automatic transmission and it was written off by my ex-wife. This is actually my second Saab, but it’s the first one I ever connected with.
Photos fom Saab Car Club of Australia. I can’t even find my own photos of it anymore!
It’s a Saab 99 Turbo from 1979 and as you can see, it was in pretty poor condition. The dealer-fitted sunroof was leaky. An old next door neighbor had backed his car into the front quarter panel. The interior was torn. It had no roof lining whatsoever as the fibreglass insert broke when I tried to re-cover it. The paint was powdered and the antenna was in need of one of those pills I keep getting emails about.
Eventually, one of the gears (either 2nd or 3rd – can’t remember now) started making a constant clicking sound and I knew the little car’s time was up. It was my daily driver and whilst I adored it, I needed something more reliable and I didn’t have the room to keep it or the knowledge to fix it.
Perhaps I should go back in time a little here…..
Those photos you see above are actually from the second time I owned this car.
About 5 years before this, I bought the car from a painter here in Hobart. It was just good fortune that I had seen the advertisement as he was going to send it to the wreckers that week if it didn’t sell. It was full of old cans of paint and whilst it would start, the gearbox was broken.
I paid $400 for it, got a friend to help me trailer it home and set about cleaning it up. My mechanic, Steve E, ordered a reconditioned gearbox that turned out to not be reconditioned at all. The second gearbox was OK, but after we got it going it was noted that the turbo needed to be replaced.
After a very enjoyable year or so, I sold it to a young guy in northern Tasmania. He drove it relentlessly for two years and then decided it was time to get something younger. Luckily he kept my contact details and I was the first person he called when it came time to sell – and I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
A few more years passed and the car was fantastic fun, but when the gearbox started clicking (as described above) I felt the need to buy a new car as well. That’s when I bought my Viggen in 2005.
You see, this car and I have a history together.
I sold the car to a mate of mine here in Tasmania, Bill H. He’s still got it and it’s still got one stuffed gear. He’s also got the white 99T at that Saab Car Club link, above, and a black 99T with a good engine and gearbox but a completely rusted out body. I think the plan is to one day make one or two good cars from the three in stock.
Earlier this year I bought myself a 1989 Mazda MX-5 as I wanted something fun to drive. I also wanted to try living the convertible life. The Mazda is indeed a really fun car to drive and I don’t regret the purchase at all.
But somehow I am continually drawn back to my old Saab 99T. This model is still my favourite Saab of all time and I can’t help but think that at some stage, maybe after a good spring and summer in the MX-5, that I’ll have a 99T on my list again.
I’m pretty sure that Bill’s not interesting in parting with his. I’m also pretty sure that the chances of another coming on the market will be pretty slim.
Maybe I’ll have to look into building a 2-door one when the Mazda leaves the stable?
Whatever will happen, will happen.
But I’d like to back up those wise words I heard last week – don’t sell your first Saab.
I know it’s too late for most of us, but for some, those are words to consider.

Back in Black – Saab 99 Turbo hits the track

If you’ve met an Aussie who is a total Saab nut and you’ve met him outside of Australia, then the chances are high that that particular Saab nut would either be Steve B (known as “sab” on the various internet forums) or the owner of this particular 99 Turbo – Brendan B.
Brendan’s been to the Saab Festival and has got to know many of you through his running of the Saab 99 Register.
A few weekends ago, Brendan got his black 99Turbo out of the shed and took at for a run at Oran Park racetrack as part of a European Performance Car Challenge meeting.
Brendan’s 99 was running in a coupe class and within his class, he ran a very credible third place based on handicap points.

  • Jeff Morton – BMW 135i
  • Mark Croudace – Porsche 986CS
  • Brendan Burdon – Saab 99 Turbo
  • Michael Cousidis – BMW M3 (E46)

He also managed to embarass a few newer and higher rated cars during the session as well.
Brendan’s daily driver is a RenaultSport Clio, which is a pretty quick little hot hatch. Despite being 20-something years older and a fair bit heavier, the Saab 99T was only 5 seconds slower around the park than the Renault, a deficit Bredan reckons could be eradicated with some better brakes, tyres and suspension.
The modifications made to the 99T are mild and are as follows:

  1. Exhaust – Custom 2.5 inch Stainless Steel turbo back exhaust with a straight through muffler.
  2. Gearbox – Custom built 4 speed, basically using all the best bits from a mixture of 99 and C900 gearboxes.
  3. Ignition stystem – Replaced the standard ignition with a MSD 6 BTM and replaced the magnetic sensor in the distributor with an Optical sensor. Also replaced the coil with a Crane PS91 coil and am now using Iridium spark plugs.

He says:

The Ignition would have to be the single best mod I’ve see done. Improved the fuel efficency for around town driving and have more power through the whole rev range.

To put the 1:38 best lap time Brendan managed into perspective – he was keeping up with an R32 Golf at 200 km/h on the back straight and managed to totally embarass a BMW E30 325iS, which could only managed a 1:52, a full 14 seconds per lap slower.
As you can see from the watermark, one of the photos above was taken by a guy called Matthew Mead. He is a motorsport photographer who does some very handy work. You can see more at his website. I like this guy as he shoots with real 35mm film as well as in digital.
More of his photos from this specific session are also on Flickr.
A final thought…..
Have a look at that second photo again. This is why the 99 Turbo is still my favourite Saab of all time. The snub nose, the aggressive stance. As befitted the first turbocharged model they ever made, this was a car that meant business.

Springtime – the older Saabs come out to play

It’s Spring in the northern hemisphere which means all those garaged Saabs are coming out to grab a few months in the sun. And what a welcome pleasure it must be!!
Long-time friend of SU and my fellow Detroit Auto Show correspondent, Greg Abbott, recently got his Cardinal Red 1978 Saab 99 Turbo out for a spring clean and wax and I’ve got to say, the results make me long for my short-lived ownership of a 99T in the same spec a few years ago.
This looks like a shot taken in the middle of the waxing process:
And here’s a shot of the finished product – absolutely magnificent. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here and now: the 99T, with it’s shorter nose and aggressive look is the most balanced Saab shape there’s ever been. I love it.
Greg, you may disagree and consider your 9-5 Aero or your 900 convertible to be more likely contenders, but judging from this brief perspective, I’d say your 99T would be the best looking and most individual car on your street!
Is it just me, or is the #1 badge ever stuck on an automobile?
If you can think of a better looking badge than the 99’s TURBO badge, please let me know in comments. The only possible equal I can think of is the Viggen badge.
It’s great to see old timers, especially rare old timers like this one, getting their day in the sun.
Thanks for the images, Greg!!

One of my old cars gets it’s own website

Ah, if only I could get into a 99T again…….they’re still my favourite old Saab.
I’ve owned two Saab 99 Turbos in my lifetime and the better of the two, a Cardinal Red model that was as close to pristine original as you can get, has recently changed hands and been purchased by a young fella in Queensland.
Simon sounds suitably pleased with his purchase (though less pleased with the insurance hassles) and has created a website to chart the journey.
This is the car, a beautiful 1978 99 Turbo that I owned briefly in 2005. I sold it to a guy from the Blue Mountains, who’s done a little work here and there and put it up for sale some time last year.
Those familiar with website operation would be acquainted with the concept of the “long tail”. That is, you create well-written content that gets referenced by many people and as time goes on, your old material gets served up again and again, thereby having repeated potential to earn you an income.
I wonder if the producers and presenters of the classic Saab 99 Turbo review from the late 1970’s ever realised the lasting impression that review would create.
If you could go back in time and tell the producers that their review would end up on the internet and be viewed by a guy who wasn’t even born yet on a site called YouTube and that viewing it would lead to unborn-guy purchasing a Saab 99 Turbo, they’d probably stare at you like you were mad and then say “what the heck’s an internet?????”
That’s pretty much what happened, though. Simon, with some encouragement from a university contact (and SU regular, Ben K), got interested in old Saabs, saw the video and got really interested, got familiar with the only Saab 99T that was for sale here in Oz – and now he’s ended up buying it.
Congratulations, Simon. Enjoy it and make sure you sell it back to me when it becomes too much of a burden.

It’s a small Saab world….

Small world – part 1
There’s a lot of motoring stories about GM in the newspapers right now, from all parts of the world.
You can imagine Eggs n Grits being a little surprised (or maybe not) to see a familiar name in one of them a few days ago. The story was about Holden, and featured Holden’ current chief, Mark Reuss.
It turns out Mr Reuss and Mr Grits were students together at Vanderbuilt University back in the day.
Yes, only the very well educated get to write here at Saabs United!
Small world – part 2
On Tuesday I got a call about my Saab 900 from a guy in Queensland, Ben K. As it turns out, Ben’s a researcher at a university there and when some of his students found out he was a gearhead, they started seeking out his advice on prospective purchases.
He’s already steered a couple of them into Saabs, and the latest one is heading down to Sydney this weekend to pick up a red Saab 99 Turbo.
This particular red Saab 99 Turbo was being sold by a guy named Mark V and it should still be in impeccable condition.
How would I know this?
1) The price he’s been asking for it, for starters……and
2) I used to own it!
Here’s how it was back in 2005, not long before I sold it.
I only had the car for a matter of months before selling it to Mark. I was in a similar situation then as to the one I’m in now – too many cars and not enough room.
I had both this red 99T and my comparatively shabby white 99T at the same time. I had to sell something and this was the most saleable of the two cars.
I’ve asked Ben to make sure this young student is aware of the heritage he’s taking custody of. The Saab 99 Turbo is a rare beast. Even more rare in this good a condition. I hope he treats it well.

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