Saab 9000 chassis technology - driving dynamics or dromedary?

It is now autumn. The Anna project has a workshop appointment in Frankfurt. The air conditioning leaks, which was not so pleasant in summer temperatures. Now the shock absorbers are also being replaced, and when I pick them up I'm as excited as a little boy about to get a new toy.

Our Saab can serve as a reference for how a 1998k must have felt as a new car in 9. All of the suspension parts are now new except for the springs, and the Saab should drive almost as if it were rolling out of the showroom.

Was the investment worth it? Does the Saab 9000 develop something like driving dynamics?

Saab 9000 Anna Project
Anna project in January 2018

New chassis technology in the Saab 9000

Even a cursory glance shows the change. The rear of the Saab no longer sags and the first few meters are really shocking. The streets around Saab Service Frankfurt correspond to what one would expect in the North Ossetian province. But not in the rich ECB city of Frankfurt. The roads are scandalously bad and the Saab's suspension is ungraciously hard.

Is that my still rocking dromedary that has accompanied me in recent years? Or a slightly too tightly tuned sports car? Am I discovering some driving dynamics now?

The 9000 discovered something like sportiness

Things are put into perspective as the roads get better. The Saab now drives with a sporty aspiration, well defined but not uncomfortable. With the 9000 Anniversary, which is my 9000, Saab also spoke of a sports suspension, just like the Aero has. On the Autobahn, the Saab runs like it's on rails, even at high speeds, and the rear no longer vibrates on bumps.

When cornering, its body roll is extremely reduced compared to before, and for an 80s project the 9k is already quite agile. My home route in the Spessart, consisting of small, winding roads of the 3rd and 4th order, Anna now experiences in a completely new way.

While the chassis previously set the limit, it is now the brakes that call for restraint and slow down the driving dynamics.

And yes, the 9k drives refreshingly rustic. A mixture of thick, fat sedan and an agility that you would not have expected. Back then, when the 9000 was designed, people were still the measure of all things. Immediate communication of road conditions to the driver was a top priority.

The human interface received information, processed it, and made decisions. If you are traveling with Anna, you will receive real-time reports on how poorly patched up our roads really are. This is analog driving, the chassis of the 9000 consistently implements the philosophy of the time.

Fast and safe on the freeway, responsive on country roads, but sticky when cruising slowly on bad urban roads.

Unfortunately, that's the passage of time, the analogous things are disappearing. Active chassis in combination with an armada of assistance systems decouple us more and more from the environment. Digital mobility will further perfect that, driving will be safer. In turn, our ability to self-assess and make decisions disappears. The cloud takes over, the human interface is no longer the measure of all things.

The Saab 9000 already has some driving dynamics

After a few months with the new suspension, it's time for an assessment. The 9000 is a car with a large turning circle. One tends to classify him as sluggish and not very dynamic. Undercarriages that are 20 or 30 years old contribute to the assessment. And in general, every chassis is much older and much more worn than its owner would like to admit.

In reality, the Saab 9000 is now quite dynamic and can do more than you give it credit for. From time to time something like driving dynamics actually flashes through. His great strength is the perfect communication between technology and people. Anyone who has not yet forgotten how to drive without computer support will appreciate the original chassis in the first large Saab. It opens up new horizons and you see the 9k with different eyes.

However, and this should not be concealed, the good-natured Saab chassis also has disadvantages. It shows the limits of the concept, especially on slow, bad stretches of road. The rigid axle at the rear is just a rigid axle. With advantages and disadvantages. The Saab likes it faster, and he especially loves the highway.

A worthwhile investment in chassis technology

The investment in the chassis technology was worth it, even months later. The assembly was done by Saab Service Frankfurt done. Easy, with a usual good service and at a very fair price. At the moment, the rear dampers are no longer available and listed as Orio backlog. It is hoped that there will be a post-production.

The Anna project is an anachronism, just like any analog car. It is a bit better and more attractive. The Saab is fun that stays. Especially when you have forgotten over time what work and money went into the project. The chassis is now almost completely new. There are still a few items on my list. The story of how a disliked, neglected Saab becomes a great classic, goes into the next round.

It should not be forgotten that this is a car that is now 20 years old. Little things happen that weren't planned. The wash water tank, a common problem, has signed off after 2 decades of being incontinent.

It's scandalous and you can't buy it new anymore. Just like the chassis that is now installed is no longer available.

The problem still has to be solved, because without it it doesn't work. Can these things be repaired, or is it better to replace them with a used part? Sequel follows.

14 thoughts on "Saab 9000 chassis technology - driving dynamics or dromedary?"

  • blank

    Hey Tom, very nice article. I see the SAAB driving experience the same way. I work for a large premium automobile manufacturer in southern Germany and have the opportunity to drive the latest cars with assistance systems, but I always look forward to getting into one of my SAABs and enjoying the rustic but “real” driving experience.

  • blank

    Hi Tom,
    a great article, for me just at the right time.
    Because I had to keep an appointment, I was on the way from Cologne to Stuttgart faster than usual in my 9-5 Griffin station wagon that evening. I realized that my earlier 9000s were much more confident on the road. I think I should have something done on the chassis ...
    Only what? So my question: what has been done to Anna on the chassis (except for the dampers)? Which gummies did you swap? I would like to have exactly that feeling of driving back that you describe so accurately ...

    • blank

      All chassis parts that move in themselves are subject to wear. Plastics * (brittle / fragile) and rubbers ** (porous) even age when standing and without stress ...

      A look under the car (preferably together in the trusted workshop) helps. But a lot can also be deduced from the vehicle's history. How old? Mileage? What was done when (or maybe neglected for too long ...)?

      * / ** Plastic parts and rubbers are a hot topic. See “Wash Water Reservoir” in the article. I'm curious about the solution and the next article ...

      After all, it's the biggest I've ever found. With the 9000 you can drive hundreds of kilometers through fog-like swarms of mosquitoes. But I digress ...

      Plastics and rubbers are the main weak points of my chrome glasses SC. 3 parts that are relevant to the engine management have already been changed under the hood. The outside becomes unsightly because rubbers crumble. For example under the roof antenna or at the front ...

      On a Volvo 240 station wagon (built in '84) I had to rebuild the wiring harness for the engine compartment (around '94) because the car was a single short circuit. Otherwise perfect. Plastic annoyance ...
      The recipe for the insulation was probably already environmentally friendly in 84, but not yet durable. As I said, a hot topic!

      To cut a long story short: take a look under the car. There's something there. More than 4 shock absorbers that have never been changed. Then he's back on the road like a new one ...

    • blank

      In principle everything was done. New wishbones, stabilizers, trailing arms where necessary, all suspension rubber bushings completely new. It was similar with the “Paul Project” and the 9-3 I Aero. You should pay attention to good quality. Control arms and all other parts were available from Saab Original, and in Bamberg I could see what a Saab original part and a cheap replica looks like. The material is worlds apart! A trustworthy workshop that builds really good parts should therefore be at hand.
      In the chassis bushings, experiments such as Powerflex were omitted. Needless if the chassis is in good condition robs too much ride comfort.

  • blank

    Great report. The bottom line for me is, SAABs (even older ones) are fun ...

    They were probably ahead of their contemporaries in many respects, are perhaps still amazingly contemporary, but without care, an old SAAB is of course just an old car ...

    You can understand that right away. Also that a 9K with good chassis is still a great pleasure today. Opinions are divided between this car and its successor. I like them both ...

    But there are enough 9K drivers who claim that the car is better than anything SAAB would have brought onto the market until 2010 or even ever ...

    You can, but you do not have to share that opinion.

    Either way, the bottom line is: that was a damn good car! ! !

    Every carer of a 9K has, in my opinion, earned a reindeer, a moose and a few liters of blueberry syrup for free.
    Other SAABs have interested me before, and sometimes also fascinated me. But it was the 9K that finally got me excited and won over to SAAB ...

    • blank

      ... it was similar to me, with the 9k, SAAB became a companion for me. We consciously decided against the 9-5 and for the 9k. Sure there were a few things in the 9-5I that were better in cars from other manufacturers, but in terms of concept and implementation, the 9k is still the reference vehicle for me in this car class ... and even my 9-5II can do a lot better far from everything, ... in terms of trunk, heating, consumption, the 9k has the edge ... (both aero)

      • blank

        Since I can sign every sentence, that's exactly the way we went!

      • blank

        Yes, the trunk ...

        He has something magical. Open, flap to. Two different cars!

        Back then, the 9000 was something of a “compact upper class”. Flip open he's a blue whale. Perhaps no wonder that German motor journalism did not do justice to the 9000. There was simply a lack of suitable drawers and practiced phrases ...

  • blank

    Rear shock absorbers not available for SAAB 9000 ???????????????

    I joined Bilstein's B6 for my SAAB 9-5 and changed to the original old Sachs.
    So you can not get better, also for SAAB 9000.

  • blank

    Great project. Really cool youngtimer. I want too

  • blank

    “The human interface received information, processed it, and could decide. ”
    That's exactly how I want it, no wannabe AI making the decisions for me. Analog is fun 🙂

  • blank

    Hi Tom,

    Thank you for this exciting post again …… ..You write “… ..all chassis parts except for the springs are new”… .. and further, Saab Frankfurt would have done everything “with the usual good service and at a very fair price” …… ..because I also have such a darling and after 22 years and 200000km it seems a bit soft to me, can you give me a rough house number, what was made for what price? Or should we better make a phone call?

    • blank

      Hej Mattes, the price sovereignty lies with the dealer. Therefore, in part 1 only the list prices for the parts, everything else you should please discuss with Frankfurt. I do not want to intervene and set price ideas in the world.

Comments are closed.