Much has been written about the Saab Spirit. Rolf Bleeker dedicated an entire book to the subject, which has been a standard work of every fan for years. Saab Spirit can be anything. The love for cars that are no longer so young; the joy of discovering a Saab in traffic; Conversations with like-minded people ... or the decision to build your own Saab.
The initial situation…
The Lafrentz family has now built up a remarkable Saab collection - now in the second generation. In addition to the Saab Sonett, various Saab 2, 900, 99 and Saab Viggen, a Saab 9000-9 NG sports suit from the pre-series and a Saab 5-9x are also included. Rare vehicles - the exclusivity can only be topped with a single piece.
The project to build a station wagon with the rear of the CS fits into the anniversary year of the Saab 9000. The idea, which was born in autumn / winter 2014, sounded no crazier to me than the fact of writing a blog and yourself to deal with Saab every day for 5 years. A 9000 SC? Yes please, why didn't we do this before?
The searched objects for the conversion are found quickly. An 95 Saab 9000 automatic Aero, just over 200.000 kilometers on the clock, and by neglecting maturity for a restoration, represents the base. Not so easy was the search for the Italian counterpart. Lancia has just built 20.000 theme SW, not many have survived. Through good contacts, the artifact of a Lancia theme station wagon finds its way north. On our word of honor, we would never have slaughtered a good or salvageable theme station wagon for our Saab 9000 SC project. We all have too much gasoline in our blood, because the good Italo station wagons are too rare.
In contrast to previous conversions carried out in Sweden, the approach to the SC project is different. The Saab should lose the roof, the topic donate its roof including tailgate and rear side windows. The shell would be finished. So the plan ...
The Saab team in Kiel would have saved the stable floor pan of the 9000 CS, which would guarantee a solid Swedish station wagon in the end product. Although Lancia and Saab have identical dimensions down to the millimeter, the details of the floor assemblies are like fire and ice. The Lancia has elegant sheet metal that willingly indulges in cold deformation in the event of an impact. While the Italian would die in beauty, the 9000 scores with stiffeners and struts. A Saab - built to last. Because the lax European safety regulations played a role at Lancia, the US guidelines were irrelevant, Saab and Thema differ significantly.
Added to this is the fundamental attitude to vehicle safety in Trollhättan. A Saab had to be always better and safer than the law required. That was the maxim until the end of the year in 2011.
The devil is, as they say, in the details. A plan that sounds good has pitfalls, and the culprit in our project is quickly identified. His name: Björn Envall. While the rear of the 9000 CC had a straight end, as if drawn with a ruler, the 2nd generation designer Envall created a rounded end. In doing so, he shaped Saab design language for the next few decades up to the Saab 9-5 NG.
In the 9000 SC Envall causes problems. Like the first 9000 generation, the Lancia Thema SW also drives the world with a straight tail end. Lancia rear window and flap do not like curves.
But first the big things are tackled. After the 9000 roof including tailgate lost, the Italian sheet is transplanted. Fine details such as the integrated roof spoiler and the noble aluminum applications of the station wagon drawn by Pininfarina are adopted and give the 9000 SC an individual touch. In the case of the Italian, the aluminum inlays are contrasted in color from the rest of the body, in the 9000 SC project they were later painted in the vehicle color. A decision that I would have made in retrospect if it was my station wagon. Little things on the edge ... and there was still the problem with the rounded rear end ...
The round must be square
A styling feature of the 9000 CS is the continuous, red-colored band on the rear. The 900 II had it, the Saab 9-5 NG and 9-4x and the planned 9-3 successor quoted Envalls design language in the form of a continuous light bar. In the future, a car company from Ingolstadt will use it to celebrate design evolution, but that's a completely different story.
The red 9000 Tailgate, sold out at Orio to the fright of the fans, picks up the bulge of the 9000 tailgate. And while the roof, side and rear windows fit perfectly, there are problems with this at the end. The solution is radical. Below the rear window, the Lancia sheet metal is cut off and rebuilt for the 9000 SC. The team in Kiel needs more than a try on the way to perfection. Solutions arise, are discarded again. Back in the late winter, 2014 / 15 keeps going until the result is right. At some point the flap falls perfectly into the lock, the rear panel fits. The Saab 9000 SC is there, as it could have come into existence at the beginning of the 90 years in cooperation of Pininfarina and Björn Envall's team.
While the body shop in the Car dealership Lafrentz When the shell is completed and the 9000 SC rolls for painting, the leather upholstery with the aero seats is professionally refurbished. Little things like the rubber seal on the rear window cause problems. At Lancia nothing is available anymore; Anyone who is upset about Orio and the supposedly low level of enthusiasm for youngtimers and classics should stop by Lancia! For the rear window there is a solution in the form of yard goods that are slightly wider than the original, but tight.
Due to the fact that the Saab 9000 trunk was not touched, the original interior fits. This saves time and customization. Only the Alcantara sky is reminiscent of the Lancia, as well as the 9000er small sunroof. Everything else is Trollhättan original. For the cover of the hold, the SC takes a loan to the successor. The part of the Saab 9-5 sports suit is slightly modified and fits.
The technology of the 9000 Aero remains largely untouched. The engine has just come in at just over 200.000 kilometers, the B234 is good for half a million and much more. Wearing parts are renewed, liquids replaced, nothing more has to be.
Back from the painter, the SC is completed. The first impression: in front of us is a handsome station wagon, more present and less petite than the sedan. With the only very softly tinted side windows, however, he conveys too much transparency and 80 years, too little dynamics. After a short discussion, the team in Kiel decides to sound the rear and side windows. Gentle, not too intense. The result fits.
In the final bill 400 hours flowed into the project. The 9000 SC was built to personal standards and is intended to remain in the family's collection. He is not available for purchase. During the trip to Trollhättan there was a lot of praise, a lot of publicity; The station wagon was filmed, photographed and requested. Saab veterans got wet eyes, the order was successful. Because, and this is the true background, the project was also about things like brand and liveliness.
It will be more exciting how it drives. A Saab 9000 Herrgårdsvagn, which unfortunately never came from the factory. Would Saab have had a chance against the noble Lancia Thema SW and Mercedes T model? In any case, Lancia was well paid for the angular rear end. Buyers were allowed to transfer up to DM 9.000,00 surcharge to the limousine, more than 20.000 people thought that was okay. The driving report for the counterpart from Sweden comes tomorrow on the blog.