Ever had to do emergency Saab repairs?

Matthew A almost had to channel MacGyver in a recent breakdown.

He was driving his Saab 900 4-door in the middle of a desert in Oregon (there’s a desert in Oregon?) when his fuel pump gave way.

Saab 900 breakdown

Matt was all enthused about the prospect of having to weave some MacGyver magic because his car is a doppelganger for a Saab 900 that actually appeared in an episode of Macgyver.

Unfortunately, his chance at improvisational greatness was quashed by the fact that he was carrying a spare fuel pump in the car (who carries a spare fuel pump?) and managed to do the repair and get going again.


My mate at Charles River Saab – PIerre Belperron – has a son named Pascal who indulges in a little rally driving every now and then.

Back in September, I told you about one of his emergency repairs:

Unfortunately, on his second run, his header pipe broke off at the turbo, and in the time it took him to get the car off the circuit and stopped, the blow-torch effect coming out of the turbo melted everything in the right front of the engine bay, including the main wiring harness.

Pascal employed a little ingenuity and rigged up a temporary harness with the hope of getting the car back home to New Hampshire. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the full 100 mile journey home, falling short of the garage by 100 feet!


I am always amazed by stories like these. I have the ingenuity of a beanbag. If I was in either of these situations I’d just sit on a rock and cry like the big baby I am.

All of this, however, leads me to ask the question – what’s been your most unusual urgent repair situation and did you get out of it successfully?

If so, how?

Aussie Saab 900 rally car gets down and dirty

There’s a guy up in Sydney, a Saab nut named Steve Emanuel. He used to run a workshop called Saab Serve and I think he even worked on my old silver 1985 Saab 900 Aero before I bought it. He got out of Saab Serve a few years ago and is now one of the Aussie parts gurus, running a business called Saab Salvage.

Steve recently used all of his Saab experience to put together a ripping Saab 900, which he drove with some success in the Kidney Kar Rally here in Australia.

Saab 900 Kidney Kar Rally

Steve entered the rally with his co-driver, Paul Laing, and together they brought home three pieces of silverware for the trophy cabinet – Best Presented Car, Top Rookie and Second Outright amongst the entire field. Not bad for a first effort, eh?

Of course, the best success of all is raising money from the event, which is used to support Kidney Health Australia in running a group of camps for kids with kidney disease. A great cause!

A friend in Sydney, Wayne G, recently sent the following through about the event:

The Saab was built ground-up from a 1985 900 AERO turbo. over the last 7 months at Steve’s Saab Salvage business in Sydney. It ran 15psi turbo boost, modified gearbox ratios and shifter, and the Dunlop Direzza rally tyres on 15 inch rims were superb over very rough roads. Their only mechanical issue was a cracked gearbox bellhousing on the final day, as rocks pushed the sumpguard rearwards. The car now occupies pride of place in Steve’s office showroom, unwashed after the event, but looking brilliant.

As a result of this successful run, Steve and Paul have been invited to run in next year’s AMSAG Southern Cross Rally Series, which should be a whole lot of fun.

The car currently sits as a display vehicle in Steve’s Saab Salvage offices, unwashed and proud from the Kidney Kar event. Well done to the lads.

A comprehensive gallery is included below.

Click to enlarge.

A few Saab heartwarmers

There’s been a number of heartwarming Saab stories cross my door in the last few days. Strange how these things tend to gather in groups.
I’ve heard from two very happy Saab dealers in the last few days, telling me stories that I’m not allowed to pass on just yet. Both are really pleased with how their particular situations are progressing, though, with one of them saying his team is “as giddy as a bunch of school girls” with developments taking place at his particular dealership.
Hopefully I’ll be able to pass on both stories soon, as they’re both genuinely good.
I got a great note via Google Buzz earlier today, with Tobias A saying he’d just taken delivery of his new 1.8t Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan.
I might be wrong in my personal recollections, but I think that’s the first delivery I’ve heard about since things got re-started at Saab.
That’s fantastic news.
Remember the Saab campaign in Germany that’s being co-ordinated by one of our regulars, Ralf22? It’s called SoonSaab and he’s putting it together with a number of German dealers.
Anyway, he’s just loaded up a photo montage from some of the Saab Support Convoys and it put a huge smile on my face to sit and watch those images all over again.

People are still buying Saabs….

Saabs are selling in lesser numbers during the current difficult circumstances, but they’re still selling. And used Saab purchases are still humming along, probably at a much better pace than new ones.
i thought I’d share a couple of stories that have come in through various sources.
Business buyers still there….
Tompa sent through the following numbers, which were lifted from a sales story in TTELA. It seems business buyers in Sweden are still buying Saabs. In fact, they’re buying more Saabs than what they were before in proportional terms.
Saab has a bigger share of the corporate car market than it has in the private market.
New (In Percent)
1: Volvo 31,9
2: Saab 19,1
3:Audi 10,1
4: Volkswagen 8,8
And in the green market, Saab are still maintaining a very large market share:
Green car sales (In percent)
1: Saab 49,1
2: Volvo 32,7
3: Toyota 9,0
4: Ford 2,6
The TTELA story studied the long term trend in the company car market and found that not only has it increased in size in the last decade, Saab have also increased their share of it, no doubt through the addition of BioPower models to their range.
Company car sales 2008 compared to 2000 (In percent)
1: Volvo -3,7
2: Saab + 1,3
3: Audi + 1,4
4: VW – 3,0
….and people are still buying Saabs in the second hand market, too.
Here are a couple of short stories about SU regulars who have picked up new-to-them Saabs in the last week or so.
First, from baas900i in comments:

then again for someone like me who wants GM FREE i was passing a dealers today and spotted a viggen and after a 30 minute test drive, 20 + minutes of ‘price fixing’ i am now the owner!
i give up!

And from an email chain that went round our regular Aussie crew this week:

Brendan: WTF have I done, I’ve just bought a Viggen Convertible!
Alex: I swear its not my fault, all i did was show him the car…..Nice work B
Alex: Has all the abbott stuff you can throw at it: Viggen Rescue Kit, Koni suspension, Abbott ECU, Big brake kit
Brendan: Full story – The car is at Saab Wreck, it appears that the front end of it was run into the back end of another car. So needs a bit of work. The car is drivable, but will be trailered back to Sydney for repairs. It’ll be a couple of months till it’s driving around again. BUT it does have all the good bits on it 🙂

Brendan’s car sounds like it’s had a very similar accident to the one my Viggen had before I bought it. A minor shunt in the front that the insurer’s have thought was too much trouble to deal with.
I’m quite sure it’ll come up smelling like roses and prove to be the bargain of the year.

So two Viggens seen and purchased. Viggens have a funny way of doing things like that to people.
Congratulations to you both. Enjoy one of the best cars Saab have ever made.

Wednesday Snippets – Saab dealers, lottery winners, new bailouts


  • There are now 12,736 registered rescuers at www.rescue-saab.com
  • The Saab 9-3x has 717 votes (12%) in the Car and Driver poll, which puts it in 4th place behind the Audi $8 V10, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage and the Ford Focus RS.

A former Saab employee and Trollhattan resident won a lottery in Sweden last week. He pocketed almost 3 million kronor from his 32SEK ticket.
What to do on such an occasion?

“We celebrated with champagne at home and as soon as I have the money in my account, it is said that a new Saab and a new computer. Then we shall see”, ends winner who wants to remain anonymous.

Thanks Per!
The need for a bailout isn’t just an American or European phenomenon anymore.
The seemingly invincible Toyota has asked for a $3billion dollar support package for it’s wholly owned finance arm.
In addition to that, Honda, Nissan and Mazda are also going to the Japan Bank for support.
With so much uncertainty surrounding Saab at the moment, dealers are having to strategise as to how they’re going to get through the current crisis and stay in business.
The Sewell group of dealership in Texas is thinking of specialising in used vehicles:

Sewell Hummer and Sewell Saab, which share facilities in Dallas and Plano, are proceeding with business as usual – though both sell seven to 10 times as many used vehicles as new, owner Carl Sewell said Friday.
Ultimately, both could evolve into high-end used car operations similar in concept to a CarMax, said Sewell, chairman of Dallas-based Sewell Automotive Cos.

I’ve featured Sewell here before and it seems they’re a good bunch of people to have carrying the Saab name. I hope they can hold out.
If there’s any other dealers tuning in, feel free to let us know how you’re holding up and what you’re doing to ensure you can carry through.
Thanks Bill!

Saab owners defending Saab – part 2

Following on from Stephen B’s letter to the editor at Wheels Magazine, I noticed this letter to the motoring scribes at The Times, in the UK, over the weekend.
The author, a Brian H, is writing in response to a recent review of the Saab 9-5 and he manages to inject a good dose of common sense into his letter.

I was sorry to read Jason Dawe’s negative and dismissive critique of the Saab 9-5 estate in your Used Car section (“In cardigan country, last week). I write as an owner.
A careful reading elicited the facts that the car is very comfortable and very safe. I suspect these would be important features for a good many drivers, but they were given little prominence. Dawe seemed to think they were outweighed by the fact that competitors had a more modern chassis.
I am not enough of a mechanic to know how this would affect performance. I doubt whether it influences the ride, for the 9-5 affords an excellent and very smooth ride.
I hope that your readers will not be dissuaded from trying out the 9-5; I think many would like it as much as I do. I should perhaps make it clear that I have no intention of selling mine.

Brian managed to sum the 9-5 up pretty well right there. All the criticisms levelled at it are about the old architecture, etc. They all overlook the same thing – that the 9-5 is one heck of a solid car that will provide all but the Stiggiest of owners a very satisfying driving experience.
Kudos to Brian H for a point well made.

Saab owners defending Saab – part 1

I’ve seen a few examples of Saab owners getting active in defending the brand in the last few weeks, which is quite encouraging.
The mainstream media have a defult position on Saab at the moment, which is typically sympathetic though overly critical and generally uninformed. Whilst some journos will do their research on some brands, they’ll typically take what they’ve read elsewhere as the be-all and end-all when it comes to Saab.
This first defence comes from Stephen B, here in Australia. He’s just penned the following letter to the editorial team at Wheels Magazine, one of the oldest motoring mags here in Australia.
I don’t necessarily agree with the ownership opinion at the end, but I’m quite pleased to see Saab owners taking some action and thought I’d post this (and another letter, shortly) as an encouragement to others to call the press to account. When you see the motoring media do something wrong, don’t be afraid to tell them.
My thanks to Stephen B for passing it on.
As a SAAB owner I read with some sadness and anger your article in the March 09 edition on SAAB’s current dire circumstances. Bob Lutz’s statement “Frankly, (SAAB has) been on GM life support ….and the hope is always with the next generation of products they’ll make money.”, made my blood boil. GM bought SAAB to lever itself into the European Premium Brand end of the market, Opel were never going to do it, they’ll always be the “Deliverance Cousins” of the German litter.
SAAB was a quirky car designer that people bought because they loved their design cues, safety, innovation (1st Turbo Production car) and practicality. So what have GM done in 20 years? Well they funded SAAB to produce all of 3 new models in that period – hardly a great action plan to pull SAAB into the new age!
The first of these 3 new models in 1993 was built on an aging Vectra/Ascona platform that was already being replaced by Opel, but at least it looked like a SAAB and sold well enough. Then because GM wanted a “Premium Look” SAAB were forbidden to produce a Hatchback, even though their market niche had bought the “Combi Coupe” in droves.
The 1998 95 Sedan was the beginning of the end with no new hatches seen since.
Sure GM had money issues, but rather than let SAAB accelerate the program to replace the 10yo 95, or build one of their fine “concept cars” where did they spend the money? On building a Cadillac Version of the 93 – the BLS! It has sold next-to-no units – a complete waste of money!
The fact that SAABs sales were at their highest pre GM in 1987 when the “Classic 900” was already 10 years old, and urgently needing replacement says a lot about what GM has done to this company since.
GM has kept SAAB on “life support” as they ripped out SAAB’s “Turbo Heart” and other safety innovations (eg active head restraints) for use elsewhere. I say its time to turn off the life support and euthanase SAAB rather than sell what’s left of SAAB to a Chinese or Korean company – GM actually keep all of SAAB’s IP in any deal for SAABs new owner to license back, and the rights to use the iconic “Griffin” logo license actually expires in 2010.
Finally can we in Australia draw any parallels? Yes, SAAB is a niche 2 model manufacturer with a capacity of 150,000 cars a year and relies on exporting over half of these, all is ok if the product is good and people have the money to buy them but any slip up in design, the exchange rate or the economy then sales dies first and then the company follows. Sound familiar? Lets hope GM-H has a better control of its destiny.

Saab dealer in NJ sees positive future

There’s around 70 standalone Saab dealers in the US. Whilst I hope that all Saab dealers end up not only surviving, but thriving, it’s the standalone dealers that I am most hopeful for.
These are the guys with a true belief in Saab. Belief enough to spend serious money on Saab-designed facilities. Guys who have embraced the Saab philosophy and made it their business, their livelihood.
So I was pleased when Kurt K forwarded this email from the dealer he’s been using for years, Reinersten Motors, in New Jersey.
I’m sure many of you have questions about the outlook for Saab and Reinertsen Motors. I’ve attached a letter directly from General Motors that is addressed to you, our customers, to gain a bit of insight into the future for Saab Automobile AB.
Independence from GM is a very exciting initiative as far as we are concerned! I want to thank you for your business and assure you that we will be here to continue providing the excellent service you expect from your local Saab Experts. While the future is unknown, we have a long-standing reputation to uphold. We have no plans to change our focus and we commit to fostering the same great relationship we have had with you, our loyal Saab owners, since 1970.
Choose NOT to participate in the recession! NOW is a great time to buy or lease a new Saab. Your new Saab is fully protected with all the warranties and maintenance programs offered at the time of purchase. And, we currently have an excellent selection of Certified Pre-Owned vehicles that provide great savings and the comfort of knowing that your vehicle comes with a 6-year or 100,000 mile warranty.
If you’ve recently been in to see us, thanks for coming by and stay tuned for more updates about Saab’s exciting Road to Independence.
Here’s to many more years of Happy Saab Motoring!
My best wishes to all at Reinertsen and all the other standalone Saab guys as well.
Hang in there. You folks are the cream of the crop as far as I’m concerned. I hope your faith in the Saab brand is rewarded.

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