Am I flippin’ out? Saab should send a Turbo X to race Bob Lutz

UPDATE below
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OK, this is a little reckless and stupid. It’s a mission to nowhere, but I can’t help but think it’s a good idea.
Bob Lutz – the guy who pretty much single-handedly killed Saab’s product range at the start of this decade – got on his high horse about the Cadillac CTS-V and dared anyone to come race him. He’d be at the wheel of the Caddy and his carefully selected opponents would run what they brung.
500x_locat_4.jpg Jalopnik are one of those carefully selected opponents and they were scheduled to show up in a Jaguar XFR, but the people at Jaguar have orchestrated a public relations disaster by pulling the big cat out of the event.
Jalopnik are now looking for a new car to take out Maximum Bob and I reckon SaabUSA should call in one of the unsold Turbo X’s and hand it over. If Jalopnik can’t get a factory car from someone then they’ll probably just run the Mitsubishi Evo that they’ll drive to the event in.
The CTS-V has a stonking big LSV supercharged V8 putting out 566hp and the Saab Turbo X puts out 280hp from it’s V6. I reckon Bob’s ego would allow for Saab to throw in a Hirsch tune for the Turbo-X, which would lift its performance a little bit higher (albeit without the needed hardware) to 300hp and 430Nm.
Now those cars would still be a long way apart on paper, but if the track and more importantly, the weather, suited the Saab then it could be closer than you think. If the track had enough corners to suit the XWD system and was at least mildly moist then I think Saab would get maximum props just for turning up when others feared to walk through the door to face Maximum Putz.
This is basically a big show of bravado on Bob’s part. The Saab wouldn’t win and wouldn’t be expected to win but even if the X managed to stay on the track and be mildly competitive then it’d be backslaps all round.
For those who think it’d be an absolute slaughter, I’d like to remind you of the track session SaabUSA held a few years ago, pitting the Turbo X against an Audi S4, a BMW 335xi, a WRX STi and BMW M3.
The Saab was 4 seconds behind the M3 and the STi in the dry, but was bested only by the STi and only by one-tenth of a second when the track was dampened.
What have they got to lose?
The event is only 2 days away now, so it’s probably not even a remote possibility. But I would really love to see Saab step up to that plate and just be part of it. They’ve got a habit of being able to do things people think they shouldn’t be able to do.
Shoving one of his own discarded cars up Bob Lutz’s clacker fits the bill if you ask me.
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UPDATE
Here’s a format I’d like to see…..
Saab could bring a Hirsched Turbo X to the party but the party is now held over two stages to see which car is more versatile.
5 laps on the track, as they’re doing now.
PLUS
5 laps on a dirt rally circuit.
Aggregate time wins.

UPDATE II
Seth Hosko explains my thoughts better than I do in this video on his branding blog.
Good stuff.

Saab 9-3 Viggen vs Saab Turbo X

Oh, what a sweet dilemma….
Seth has sent me an email with the following:
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Here’s a small back story: I bought my 5 door black on black 2000 Viggen in ’05, & have put over 60k miles on her. I’ve done a lot of work; Viggen rescue kit, rear ARB, upgraded rear brakes, SS brake lines, iPod input, bluetooth kit, etc etc. More recently however, I’ve been doing more repairs, than preventative maintenance. It’s 10 years old, so stuff is starting to break. I’m beginning to wonder if I should trade up…
Do you think a Turbo-X is a worthy “upgrade” from the Viggen? It would be newer, presumably under warranty…but then again, it will eventually be 10yrs old too, just like my Viggen now…
What are your thoughts?

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I’ll write here what I wrote to him in my email response:
Keep the Viggen and get the Turbo X anyway!!
Unfortunately, Seth’s finances don’t allow for such a dream situation so in tale worthy of the wisdom of Solomon, he has to choose between two awesome machines.
The Saab 9-3 Viggen is an incredibly flawed vehicle, which is why I love it so much. With the right modifications it goes from incredibly flawed to simply incredible and it sounds like Seth has done a lot of that work and added some more creature comforts as well.
The Turbo X is a superior vehicle in every way, but whilst my seat time in an X is limited, I have to wonder if I could love one the way I’ve loved a Viggen. Has it got the personality?
I’m quite sure the big exhaust note, sports seats and incredible grip could wash away the pain eventually, but I’d be moving heaven and earth to keep the Viggen as well as get the Turbo X. At least sell it to a friend so you can keep an eye on it and buy it back in the future.
Get the X. But prepare to miss the Viggen more than you could imagine possible.
Them’s my thoughts. Please provide your own wisdom for Seth in comments.

Saab Turbo X question

I trust all you Turbo X owners are enjoying your vehicles. Those who got their X’s first have possibly crossed the 12 month anniversary already. Amazingly, there are still some for sale in some parts of the world and I received a query earlier this week from a guy who’s thinking of picking one up.
Saab Turbo X
His name is Nate and here’s what he’s thinking…..

I am young (26) but I work hard and I am a young professional here in San Diego, CA and saving up for my first new Saab. I currently have a 2004 9-3 Linear (bought with 40k miles) that I have become attached to, it is an amazing car. I know have 105 miles on it and I am ready to upgrade. I know I want to get another Saab for sure. The model I have fallen in love with is the 2008 9-3 Turbo-X since the first time I saw one.
My question to you is, do you think it would be smart to buy a Saab right now or wait? Also, what do you think is a good price point for the X? I know there were only 600 sent here to the US, but I found the exact one I want for $35,900 US Dollars ($47,500 sticker). Do you feel I can work them down at all? I am always one to negotiate but I wanted to ask an expert if they felt this model Saab would be a good buy.

Nah. Far from an expert, but I’m happy to share what I think.
I think the Turbo-X is an absolute ass-kicker of a vehicle. Yes, there are 2009 vehicles with XWD but if I had a chance at an X, I’d grab it.
Practical people who are wise with their money will possibly disagree, but I’m a bit of a sentimentalist. I’d go for the Turbo-X for the same reason I prefer the 99 Turbo over the clasic 900 turbo. Because it’s the first of it’s kind. To me, that’s significant.
I think you could possibly talk them down a little more than that (though to we Aussies, that’s an incredibly cheap price anyway) given that sales are so hard to come by at the moment.
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More important than my philosophisations (thanks R. Shelton), why not take the thoughts of a real-life Turbo X owner into consideration.
Clive was the first guy in Australia to take delivery of a Turbo X and he’s recently passed his first anniversary with it.
I heard from Clive earlier this week and here are his impressions of 12 months with the Saab Turbo X. You might remember that Clive’s X is Loud, Fast and In Control:

19136 kms in my Turbo X, and l have now officially owned my car for slightly over 12 months.
l still have that Saab smile. Every time l start the Saab from a cold start, as my #2 son in law says, it’s metal mayhem: cam overlap that produces a nice uneven signature from an engine with urge and a delicious raucous exhaust note. And the really nice part is that it seems to be getting that little bit louder; it fits my future plan of growing old disgracefully.
This is a great car. The XWD loves corners. Power in and power out. No braking, just control the car with the accelerator pedal. The V6 torque band is phenomenal , the suspension and braking are set up with perfect balance (to my mind) and the steering is responsive.
Is this the perfect Saab? Maybe, maybe not. However what is the perfect car?
Does it demonstrate that Saab can develop unique cars? Absolutely, and the Turbo X is part of the evolution!
One of my favourite subjects is to reflect on the wonderfully “accurate” – if not bizarre – press reviews. Firstly, l must state that my Turbo X is a manual. To me this car is a car that deserves only the 6 speed manual box. Condemn me to washing my mouth out with soap if you like, but to me that is a fact.
The following is my response to the most negative press reports

  1. Torque steer, the urban legend. The Turbo X has no torque steer, which is actually the point of the XWD… the press should try a 2008 Mazda MP3. It sets a new standard for torque steer.
  2. Poor steering – the steering is in fact very good and precise, l have actually managed to miss trams (a feature of Melbourne’s city and inner suburban roads) , trucks and anything else that you would expect on the road.
  3. Fuel consumption – if you drive it like you stole it then the litres-per-100kms are unfortunately not very good.
  4. Competitors – Yes , the very serious contenders that it has been measured against including ….wait for it ……the very intimidating and performance based Subaru Liberty….. yes they both have 4 wheels however XWD drive and AWD are not the same. Not all 2Wd’s are the same, either, at least in my experience. Also, power per tonne – the Turbo X is right in there amongst its peers including BMW
  5. The dash panel – No, l have not been bored senseless by the apparently less than exciting internal fitout and instrumentation and all that black plastic. The gauges all work, they are not fluoro disco lights, they are Saab instruments and they tell me what l want to know
  6. Noisy – it’s true, this is not a quiet car. It has unique aspects including an exhaust note that is so unSwedish……

This is the future not the past.

More on the coolant expansion tank ‘recall’ for V6 Saab 9-3s

I wrote yesterday about a customer service recall (“campaign 15460”) that had been issued by Saab and noted at Saab Central.
I’ve received a couple of emails since, which have helped clear up the nature of the issue.
First of all, it’s important to stress that this is not a safety recall of any sort. This is a customer satisfaction campaign – it’s Saab noticing there’s a problem with the car and doing a voluntary campaign to replace the faulty part.
Kudos to Saab for that.
Second, last night I was unsure as to whether this was just a US campaign, or whether it was a wider initiative. It is definitely the latter. Here in Australia, Saab sent out a letter last Friday to owners who may be effected by the issue (namely, anyone with a V6 model 9-3).
Finally, I’ve also received a copy of the original Saab notice about this fault and the campaign they’ve got underway to rectify it.
Click to enlarge:
Coolant_Campaign.jpg
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Saab Australia have stressed to me via email the importance of ensuring your customer details are up to date on their databases so that they can let you know when campaigns like this are underway (which hopefully, they won’t have to do often).
If you buy a new car, they should have your information already. But what if you’ve moved house since then? It may be time to update your info.
Even if you buy a 2nd hand Saab, you can still have your details placed on their customer database in so that they can keep you in the loop if need be. It also helps at service time, too, as they’ll have your VIN and will know exactly what parts to order for the car.

Service recall for Saab V6 Aero owners – coolant tank

It seems there’s some sort of voluntary recall going on for the coolant expansion tanks in Saab 9-3s fitted with the V6 engine, both Aeros and Turbo Xs.
The full details are available over at Saab Central.
It seems to be a US thing at the moment. The recall number is #15460 and if you call Saab USA Customer Service and give them your VIN, they will check it and see if your car is covered.
Users over at Saab Central seem to be reporting satisfactory replacement of this item so far.
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This recall was issued in July 2009, though interestingly, our resident GM Master Tech, Tedjs, identified it as an ongoing issue back in February 2008.
It’s good to see it addressed.

Thanks to Sapan for the heads-up!

Saab Australia giving out Turbo X goodies

Yes, there are still Turbo X’s here for sale in Australia, as there may be in your part of the world, too.
I just got an email from Kurt at Heartland Saab in Sydney about a Turbo X they delivered last Friday. The customer was moving on from a Subaru WRX and Jeep Cherokee.
Saab Australia put together a little Turbo X owners package to go with the car.
From Kurt:

The box Includes a key ring with Carbon Fibre finish (as per the vehicle’s interior), Turbo X Hat, Coffee Thermos, Pen and Driving Gloves.
Also Included was a custom made Turbo X branded car cover, which we put over the car in the showroom before the customer took delivery. It looked great and so many people wanted to know what was under the cover. Its also a great way for the new owner to protect his Turbo X when its parked in his garage.

Of course, we have pictures…..
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I’ve seen most of those Turbo X accessories before and have shown the CF keyring (which I reckon is the bees knees, personally) way back when the X’s first started selling.
I hadn’t seen one of those custom covers before, though, and that’s a real genuine bonus item. A good custom car cover can keep the car cleaner for so much longer.
Kurt got an email from the new owner today, and yes, he’s very happy, especially with the car in manual form. Their demonstrator was an auto, so the extra buzz with the manual seems like it must have been a pleasant bonus.

Saab Pride – New Mexico Saab Double (Triple) Style

Saab Pride Road tests give readers a few stats and photos but when it comes real life, owning a Saab is the only way people will ever get to know how good and how much fun they really are to live with.
That’s why for a couple of years now I’ve been asking people to send in their Saab stories, along with a few very good photos as well. We call it Saab Pride.
Today’s entry is from David and Lisa, who have a couple of very nice Saabs, a good location and a story to tell.

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Welcome to New Mexico, USA!
We, David & Lisa, decided to take advantage of one of our state’s natural and most unusual geological wonders, White Sands Monument and Missile Range to shoot pictures of our Saabs. White Sands Monument lies in the southeastern New Mexico at the northern end of the Chihuanhuan Desert surrounded by stark mountains. Pure, white, wave-like, gypsum sand dunes range 275 square miles of desert originally formed millions of years ago at the bottom of a shallow sea. Gypsum is rarely found as sand because it is water soluble but the lack of drainage and precipitation give the world this extraordinary place to enjoy. The monument only encompasses a small part of the dune area while the rest of it is restricted for military missile testing.
SportCombiPeachSunset.jpg
I started our adventure without David. I went down mid-afternoon to scope out the best places for pictures and to take the opportunity of the sunset and its colors against the silver of my 9-3 SportCombi. As you get deeper into the dunes, the whiter the sand, the less vegetation and more variety of dune shapes avail themselves for photo prospects.
SportCombiInTheSunset.jpg
Later that evening we attempted some night shots near the Alamogordo Airport.
TurboXMoonglow.jpg
We found out by accident that the road we were shooting on was attached to the county detention center. We had a scary moment when we noticed the bushes were answering back to us! We cut our photo session short.
SportCombiMoonglow.jpg
The next morning we arrived later than planned by stayed several hours to catch the changes in the light.
TurboXScenicVista.jpg
When the sun was high overhead, it was time to have some fun in the sand with the cars.
TurboXMeetsRoundUp.jpg
In order to make the cars spin and burnout, you have to turn off the ESP (not advised by Saab). Lisa, being a first time Saab owner of only 3 months, required our help, (David & my friend, Michael) to show Lisa how to spin the car.
SportCombiPlayingInDirt.jpg
Both of us attended the Aero Academy driving school at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia and we had a fine time showing off our ability to spit up the sand.
The best part about visiting White Sands was its other worldly qualities. From the time we got there in the morning with the sun rising until it was burning down upon our heads, it was easy to lose perspective on where you are on the planet, or even question which one you are on. When standing on the tallest dune, the white sand stretches out for miles and miles confusing your sense of reality. The heat and extreme brightness brought our time to a close at this alien landscape with one last shot of the classic Saab “S” to send us home.
TheThreeAeros.jpg
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My thanks to David and Lisa, and if you want to see more photos from this series (bigger ones, too) then you should click here.

Saabs United – finding good homes for Turbo X’s everywhere….

The quest to house any remaining Turbo X’s continues and today I’ve received an email from another new Turbo X owner.
His name is BrianL and he writes as follows:

I thought I’d drop you a line before these pop up on your Flickr feed. I finally got some decent photos of my new toy. A barely broken in Turbo X SC! I’ve added about 2000 miles to it and it has been awesome. I was a bit hesitant about buying the same car again, but this car is a totally different car than my 04 SS.
I was encouraged by your post on left over Turbo Xs and saw this one needing a new home. It’s fully loaded except auto and nav.

IMHO, all you’re missing is the nav, Brian. But that’s just me.
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I’ve passed along my congratulations privately but wanted to do so publicly as well. These are awesome cars going for rediculous prices, and they deserve good homes.
The best car I’ve ever owned is the Saab 9-3 Viggen and the Turbo X is this generation of vehicle’s Viggen – and then some. It’ll be one of those cars that every enthusiast will wish they’d owned at one stage.
If you can find one, snap one up.

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