He is the last Saab with the classic hatchback. A Saab tradition that began with the iconic Saab 99 Combi Coupe found an unforeseen close with the first-generation Saab 9-3. Unforeseen, because there should have been a hatchback for the second 9-3 generation. This variant was deleted by owner GM at some point, and so was the 9-3 I (unintentionally) the last of its kind.
His appearance 1998 provided for discussion. A new model or just a facelift? Saab had changed or redesigned 1.000 parts and rightly believed that it had launched a new vehicle. The engine press did not see it that way, which is incomprehensible. The Japanese giant Toyota is changing very little from generation to generation, hauling some components through in the long run because they are good and reliable - and no one questions whether a new Toyota really is one. Unjust world !
Everything better and everything Saabiger!
The direct comparison between 902 and 9-3 I reveals the difference. The 902 drives like a charming, but aged Youngtimer. The 9-3 I does not take its age from at least 10 up to a maximum of 15 years. Too good, too young, he feels. Everything is easier and better than in 902, and the 9-3 I looks even more modern. He stands stockier on the street and just shows more presence. Another generation? Why, surely !
A Saab is a Saab is a Saab. This is true for 9-3 I. From the Saab classic par excellence, the classic 900, you've inherited the steep windshield, the split dashboard and the iconic hatchback shape. There is also a relatively large range of engines, for the first time with diesel. A beautiful cabriolet, and special versions complete the offer.
The 9-3 I had a short build time, and in good 5 years, 326.370 copies were made. He is no longer a real insider tip, because the scene has in recent months discovered the 9-3 for themselves and - with rising prices - secured good copies.
The cult models!
From the first generation of the Saab 9-3, there are models that have the makings of cult from the factory. The Saab 9-3 Viggen was originally more than just a special edition. The "Viggen" label, borrowed from the aircraft division, should be similar to the "M" series at BMW for sporty high-end models. It made Saab at first glance quite easy. The "fat" 2.3 liter four-cylinder was transplanted into the 9-3 and provided with at least 230 PS at 1.450 kilograms for a brilliant driving experience. Unfortunately, at least by today's standards, the chassis technology was not consistent with the engine performance, so that a Viggen considered not easy to drive.
A by designer genius Ian Callum Designed body kit made for a better CW value, and special seats in the interior, high-quality leather covered and in different color variations, made visual difference to the series. Detailed information on the genius Viggen, which is still suitable today for hunting over the highway, and of which more than 6000 copies in Finnish Nystad ran off the line, is available in the Viggen Factfile.
Are 230 turbo hp too low and xnumx mileage too slow? For even more fun and even more playfulness there is a remedy. Saab Werkstuner Hirsch delivered the Saab 250-9 Troll, completely redesigned and refined as a sensitive sports equipment. Up to 3 PS and more - accompanied by turbo sound - make the 300-9 a wild troll and a Porsche hunter. The few trolls that still exist today are the absolute cult.
Saab 9-3 I buy.
Did he ever have an acceptance problem? Was there one of GM or Opel? Few are still doing it today, but there are supposed to be people who think that Saab has sold its soul by switching to the four-stroke principle. These people will never understand a 9-3 I and should not even try it. Everyone else has long recognized the qualities of the last hatchback from Trollhättan.
The workmanship is good, the copies from the Finnish Nystad are even better than those from Trollhättan. The 9-3 I combines everyday practicality, individuality and, depending on engine, economy and sportiness. The fact that in this generation of vehicles still cars were built, which did not proliferate unimpeded in the width, one notices with gratitude with each parking garage visit.
His predecessor quickly became a cellar child. The 9-3 I was spared this fate, and even today you can find many first- or second-hand copies at the Saab dealer. Meanwhile, the traditional Saab dealerships offer partial restorations and engine overhauls for this model. Also on the Internet there are interesting copies on the usual platforms. However, the offer is no longer abundant, and patience is required.
For the powerful Viggen or Troll models, a knowledgeable hand and some knowledge is needed. Saab partners with tradition have a lot of experience here and can help with the purchase and maintenance. A good address in the south is that Saab center Bambergwhere until a while ago a fabulous 9-3 Troll was in the owner's fleet.
What to look out for?
Like the predecessor 902, so also the 9-3 I plague some problems on the body. Rust is now, after 15 years in the first copies, a topic. The wheel arches are often affected and the intake of the front shock absorbers. Sometimes the repair was not done expertly, and the look of a Saab expert helps with the purchase decision.
The turbo engines - here there is a wide range of 150 to 300 PS - are robust with expert care. The look in the checkbook helps and is advisable, because from Aero level is a liter of power of about 100 PS, and the 9-3 becomes a compact athlete. Leaking cylinder head gaskets may occur and should be fixed by the Saab Partner. Often, if the engine is already open, a revision according to the manufacturer's specification makes sense. Currently the Saab Parts AB delivers long unavailable overhaul kits at good prices.
In the interior Saab-typical flair and objectivity is announced. The material selection is high quality and robust. A wood dashboard is made of wood and not plastic, and the leather is thick and really animal. Only the usual pixel problem of the SID display disturbs the joy. But all manufacturers had these problems at that time, and Saab joins the company of BMW, Mercedes and Co.
Spare part & workshop
The turbos belong in knowledgeable hands, if you want to be happy in the long term. Saab has its own maintenance instructions that make sense, and in the strong variants it is recommended to change the oil every 10.000 kilometers. The spare parts situation is (still) good. Almost everything is available, even if some stocks are quite low. Is it replicated or not? We do not know and keep an eye on the situation.
The price situation
In the meantime, trolls, Viggen and good aeros are priced. A good troll is - if anything - traded around the 20.000 €. The price is not representative, because the offer is too thin. So it can be a bit more expensive. Viggens, please do not bastard, with clear history and properly maintained, are somewhere between 10.000 and 20.000 €. The prices depend on the personal taste, the modifications to the chassis and engine, and even a sought-after, rare color combination can cost a few bills more. A good Aero with clear history and checkbook? The journey starts at 8.000 € and can end somewhere at 15.000 €.
Before now the "far too expensive "- Group sniffs, I recommend the look on the Internet. The offer is thin, and Aero, Viggen and Co are currently being sought and bought throughout Europe. If you think you can make a gold mine out of your tampered Saab with maintenance backlog, then I have to disappoint you. The Saab Collector Group, which discovered the 9-3 I months ago, is demanding, which is clear. The more expensive the turbo-charged Swede is, the more equivalent is expected. Fans buy only really good copies and preferably in connection with one of the Saab specialists and traditional partners.
But there is not only Aero, Troll and Viggen. Even the small turbos are interesting and affordable.
Cabriolets, as always, are more expensive than closed ones, and coupes tend to be more expensive than 5s. Where the market in some variants is so tight that it is not really of interest, whether Coupe or two doors more. Today, one would probably market the sedan variant as an 5-door coupe. So who invented it? Saab, of course!
It makes no mistake who buys a Saab, whichever, with a Viggen, Troll or Aero label. Here, there have been rising prices in recent months, and promises at least Saab drive without loss of value. In the Aero series especially late specimens from 2001 with the Viggen Body Kit and the Viggen equipment are in demand.
If it is a version with a smaller turbo engine, then the SE variant is recommended. It offers everything you could wish, wood and leather and air conditioning. The leather is pleasingly high quality and better than the successor. Drive in style, enjoy luxury and turbo ... the 9-3 makes it possible. Sometimes unnoticed - and maybe a little insider tip, if the seller does not know what he has - are the Anniversary models that existed 2002 and can be recognized by the embossed turbo lettering on the leather seats.
Saab introduced a diesel for the first time in the 9-3. Developed by Steyr-Puch for GM, he is a rough journeyman. Rough but warm he is robust - but you have to like him.
Automatic or 5-gear transmission? Pure taste question. The 4-gear autmatic harmonizes very well with the turbos and was even available in the Aero. To make the driving harmonious and to spare the automatic, Saab has reduced the maximum torque from 280 to 250 Nm in the Aero. Everyone likes to know what they like ...
Stay away from copies with unclear boost pressure ratios. Turbo promotes the play instinct and encourages boosting the boost pressure. Damage to the turbocharger, engine and transmission can be the result. Better to look for a copy with a clear history!
Saab Werkstuner Hirsch Performance took on the first 9-3 series and conjured from the 2 liter Aero engine 230 PS to 260 PS. A liter of power of 115 PS was then rare, and the increased performance in the Aero, also in conjunction with automatic transmission, brought significantly better performance in the medium speed range than the production version. Only with manual transmission, there were the 260 horses with stag-Step2. Superior performance and draft are the result. Careful, the Saab turbo - stag version carries addictive! Fans consult your doctor and bank account beforehand. Deer versions are very rare, are sought after and are considered an alternative to viggen.
The entry into the last hatchback Turbo Saab starts, with luck, at 5.000 €. Convertibles start a little higher. Naturally aspirated engines record lower, and cheap purchases are possible here. Good contacts with the Saab dealer help with the search. Many copies change hands in the Saab community without appearing on the internet as an ad. As the prices increase, lately copies for little money from England are brought again and again. Driving the steering wheel on the wrong side? A Viggen for less than half of the current price can be tempting. But you should plan the problems with the resale.
The 9-3 I is no longer an insider tip, but it is our recommendation to get started, to return to the cult brand or as a collector's item for the most beautiful hobby in the world.
The cult factor!
Saabiger and modern is none in the current list of Saab Youngtimer. The cult potential is high, and anything Aero, Viggen or Troll chooses is addictive.
The cult factor quick check:
+ Boarding. Because he is the last hatchback from Trollhättan.
- Get out. Get out? Who speaks of getting out?
+ Insider tip. The 185 PS variant. Not always offered in Germany, therefore rare. Not as intrusive as an Aero or Viggen. But fast and strong. A true Saab.
+ Cult ranking. Strong on the rise. Saab gets a second icon for the 900. Modern and comfortable and every inch a Saab.
Text: firstname.lastname@example.org / Pictures: Saab Automobile AB (3), saabblog.net
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