Hirsch steering wheel

You might recall that one of our SU regulars, Till72, visited Hirsch’s headquarters in Switzerland last week. I posted his remarks about taking a quick drive in Rene Hirsch’s personal whip – a new Saab 9-5.

The other reason Till made the journey was to have a new Hirsch performance leather steering wheel fitted to his Saab 9-3x. It goes nicely with his Hirsch carbon leather interior and engine tune 🙂

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Hirsched again…

One of the reasons for my trip to Switzerland was that I got the new steering wheel for my 9-3x. I fell in love with it as I saw it for the first time at the Hirsch open day back in August.

The airbag and the controls are kept from the original part so you also keep your black or silver covers and only the wheel itself is changed. It was done in about half an hour.

After having it installed for a week now I can say that I really like the feel of the stronger shaped design. Your hands easily find a safe and comfortable position. The perforated leather adds it’s part to the great feel, too. I also realized that for tall people like me the flat bottom makes it easier to get into the car.

The steering wheel completes the Hirsch interior of my 9-3x and adds some sportiness. I love it.

A closer/clearer look at that Eurotuner Saab 900

I showed some scans from Euro Tuner magazine over the weekend. They featured their first ever Saab in the magazine, a 900 Convertible owned by a guy named Aaron Elledge in Tacoma, Washington.
Aaron’s been in touch with me since then and sent me some clearer images from the magazine, which are posted below.
This is quite a beast of a vehicle, too. Aaron’s had it for 9 years now and the list of modifications is quite extensive. I don’t have time to re-type the whole article here, but 335hp should tell you that this is no simple convertible.
Aaron’s running a Megasquirt custom ECU setup, bigger turbo, 2.3 Saab head, special headers, 3-inch downpipe, uprated wastegate – the list goes on. All that power has lead to five busted gerboxes over the years, but Aaron’s been working on that, too. A limited slip diff, reinforced casing and ‘autobahn’ gears (new to me, too) have been fitted and apparently it’s all a very nice package, now.
Click to enlarge and enjoy and thanks to Aaron for getting in touch.
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Video: Hirsch Performance exhaust system

I got my new exhaust system through the week and a few people asked for some video, hence the new video below.
The exhaust system, from SU Sponsors and Saab’s official tuning house, Hirsch Performance, is a 3-inch stainless steel cat-back system (meaning it goes from the catalytic converter back, it’s not a full system).
The video might not be what you expect. This is no monstrously loud system, but it’s very, very good. The exhaust system’s job is to get exhaust gases out of the combustion chamber as efficiently as possible, not be as loud as an AC/DC concert.
This one produces a slightly deeper note than the stock system but it’s not really any louder. What the system does very effectively is get the gases out quickly and subtly increase the power and responsiveness of the engine.
Yes, I’m one very happy camper 🙂



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The exhaust installation has increased the power a little and over all, the car is very quick now. One thing both I and my mechanic have noticed, however, is that under load, the clutch is slipping a little.
As you can see from my driveway, the clutch gets a fair workout every time the car is driven and given that it’s fairly old, the fact that it’s slipping a little should be no surprise.
I guess a heavier duty clutch will be the next thing on my shopping list…..

Update – Observed fuel economy after Maptuner stage 1 upgrade

The Chronology……
First, a mate of mine named John upgraded his 2006 Saab 9-3 Aero V6 using the new Maptuner plug-in software upgrade device from Maptun.
Next, he reported some observed fuel economy figures from a 500km trip he did in the car a short time afterwards.

Computer fuel consumption showed 7.4Ltrs/100km on arrival at Devonport (31.8mpg US and 38.2 mpg UK). Car was not moved until return journey, computer settings were not altered. On arrival in Hobart at 8pm on Saturday 23rd fuel consumption read 7.5 litres/100km (that’s 31.4mpg US and 37.7mpg UK).

The Question……
Some of you quite rightly asked at the time how that compares to his normal consumption. I did fire off an email to John about that, but he was unable to answer as he was in Western Australia on holidays.
Now returned, he’s sent me the following reply….
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Fuel Consumption
Fuel consumption is about the same, maybe slightly better on highway driving and possibly slightly worse in town. Best consumption ever recorded on a similar trip (at similar cruising speed) was 7.1 litres/100klm but that was on the Launceston to Hobart leg with a good tail wind and no traffic interruptions. Previous trips to Devonport varied between 7.5 to 8.0 Litres/100klm.
I have not covered enough distance in suburban driving yet to really say what the difference is there, although the computer readings suggest it may be a little higher, which you might expect (perhaps to be fair I should factor in a very hilly home suburb).
The 7.4 litres/100klm figure I quoted for the northern trip (with ECU upgrade) had quite a few interruptions of slower traffic hence the slightly lower consumption perhaps.
I think the extra performance lends the car to being driven with a bit more gusto. Given normal driving I think consumption is going to be about the same. I’m very happy so far and even if there was a small increase it would be worth it!

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You are now even more up to date 🙂
I can personally vouch for the poor suburban figures we get here in Hobart. This is a very hilly city and John live up an even steeper and longer hill than what I do!

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.
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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.
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It might have been a bit inconvenient for pedestrians, too, but what the heck…..
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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!
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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.

An amazing not-so-little Saab 99

Look at this car……
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……and the only thing giving away that it’s something special is that protrusion from under the front grill and some catches on the bonnet.
How special is it?
Watch this……



James over at Car Throttle has written this one up before I got a chance to, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll just point you towards his story covering this amazing not-so-little Saab 99.

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