Saab 9000. Driving dynamics or dromedary?

It's autumn now. The Anna project has a workshop appointment in Frankfurt, the air conditioner licks, which was not so pleasant in summer temperatures. Now also the dampers are exchanged, and during the pickup I'm curious like a little boy, who should get a new toy.

Saab 9000 Anna Project
Anna project in January 2018

Our Saab can be used as a reference, as 1998 a 9k must have felt as a new car. All the suspension parts except for the springs are now new, and the Saab should drive almost as if it were fresh from the showroom roll.

Already a glance shows the change. The rear does not hang now, and the first 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 streets are scandalously bad and the Saab ungreasingly hard sprung. Is this my rocking dromedary that has accompanied me in recent years? Or a somewhat too tightly tuned sports car?

Things get relativized as the roads get better. The Saab is sporty, well defined, but not unpleasant. On the highway he runs at high speed as well on rails, the tail no longer resonates at bumps.

When cornering his side tilt is extremely reduced, and for a 80er project he is already quite agile on the road. My home track in the Spessart, consisting of small, winding roads 3. and 4. Anna is experiencing a new order now. Previously, the suspension set the limit, it is now the brakes, which urge restraint.

And yes, the 9k is now driving refreshingly rustic. A mix of fat, fat sedan and agility you would not have expected. Back then, when the 9000 was constructed, man was still the measure of all things. Immediate notification of road conditions to the driver was a top priority. The human interface got information, processed it, and could decide. If you're traveling with Anna, you'll receive a real-time message telling you how miserable our roads really are. This is analogous driving, the chassis of the 9k consistently implements the philosophy of that time. Fast and safe on highways, with good feedback on highways, but stuckerig when driving slowly on bad roads in the city.

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.

After a few months with the new suspension, it's time for a review. The 9000 is a car with a large turning circle. One tends to classify it therefore as sluggish and less dynamic. Landing gears that are 20 or 30 years old contribute to the assessment. And in general, every suspension is much older and much more used than its owner would like to admit.

In fact, the 9000 is quite dynamic and can do more than you expect. His great strength is the perfect communication between technology and people. Anyone who has not yet forgotten driving without computer support will appreciate the original suspension in the first big Saab. It opens up new horizons, and you see the 9k with different eyes.

However, and this is not to be concealed, the Saab suspension also has disadvantages. Especially on slow, poor routes it shows the limits of the concept. The Saab likes it faster, and he loves the highway.

The investment has paid off, even months apart. The assembly was made 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 analogue car. It's a bit better, and more attractive. The Saab is fun, it stays. Especially if you have forgotten with time, what has gone into work and money in the project. The chassis is now almost completely new. Some points are still on my list. The story of how to turn a beloved, neglected Saab into a great classic goes into the next round.

It should not be forgotten that this is a car that is now 20 years old. Small things happen that are not planned. The wash water tank, a common problem, has logged out as an incontinent after 2 decades. Scandalous, and new there is no longer buy it (Hello, Orio?). The problem must be solved anyway, because without it is not possible. Can they be repaired, or are they better replaced by a used part? Sequel follows.

14 thoughts on "Saab 9000. Driving dynamics or dromedary?"

  • Hey Tom, very nice article. The SAAB driving experience, I see exactly the same. I work for a large premium car manufacturer in southern Germany and have the opportunity to drive the latest cars with assistance systems, but I am always happy to get into one of my SAAB's and enjoy the rustic but "real" driving experience.

  • Yes, the trunk ...

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

    Shut the 9000 at the time was something like a "compact upper class". Shut up, he is a blue whale. No wonder that German motoring journalism did not do justice to the 9000. It probably lacked simply appropriate drawers and trained phrases ...

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

  • In principle everything was done. New wishbones, stabilizers, trailing arm where necessary, completely new suspension rubber bushings new. The same was true of the "Paul Project" and the 9-3 I Aero. You should pay attention to good quality. Wishbone and all other parts there was Saab Original, where I could see in Bamberg what a Saab original part and a cheap replica looks like. There are worlds in between! A trustworthy workshop, which builds really good parts, so you should have 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.

  • All movable chassis parts are subject to wear. Plastics * (brittle / brittle) and rubbers ** (porous) age even when standing and without stress ...

    A look under the car (preferably together in the workshop of trust) helps there. But also from the vehicle history much can be derived. How old? Mileage? What was done (or maybe omitted too long ...) when?

    * / ** Plastic parts and rubbers are a hot topic. See "Washer tank" in the article. So I'm looking forward to the solution and the next article ...

    After all, he is the biggest I have ever encountered. With the 9000 you can drive hundreds of kilometers through foggy mosquito swarms. But I digress ...

    Plastics and rubbers are the biggest weakness of my chrome glasses SC. Under the hood 3 parts have already been changed, which are relevant for the engine management. Outside it is unsightly because rubbers are crumbling. For instance under the roof antenna or at the front ...

    In a Volvo 240 station wagon (YY '84) I had to rebuild (about' 94) the wiring harness for the engine compartment, because the car was a single short circuit. Otherwise perfectly. Annoyance plastic ...
    The recipe of the insulation was in the year '84 already environmentally friendly, but not yet tenable. As I said, a stimulus issue!

    Long story short: Look under the car. There is something. More than 4 shocks that have never been changed. Then he lies again like a new one on the street ...

  • Hi Tom,
    a great article, for me just at the right time.
    Because I had to make an appointment, I spent the week evenings from Cologne to Stuttgart with my 9-5 Griffin-Kombi faster than usual. Then I realized that my former 9000 were a lot more confident. I think I should have something done on the suspension ...
    Only what? So my question: what has been done to Anna on the chassis (except dampers)? Which rubbers did you trade? Because I would like to have exactly the same feeling when driving, which you describe so enthralling ...

  • ... it was similar to me, with the 9k SAAB from the car to the companion with me. We deliberately decided against the 9-5 and the 9k. Sure, there were a few things in the 9-5I that were better in cars too, but from the concept and implementation, the 9k is still the reference car in this car class for me ... and even my 9-5II can do a lot better not everything yet ..., in terms of trunk, heating, consumption, the 9k has the nose ... (both aero)

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

    They were probably ahead of their contemporaries in many aspects, 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. Just between this car and its successor, the ghosts are different. I like both of you ...

    But there are enough 9K drivers claiming that the car is better than anything SAAB to 2010 or even ever launched ...

    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, partly fascinated me. But the 9K was the one who finally inspired and captured me for SAAB ...

  • 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.

  • Great project. Really cool youngtimer. I want too

  • 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.

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

  • Hi Tom,

    Thank you for this again exciting contribution ...... .. You write "... ..all chassis parts except for the springs are new" ... .. and further, Saab Frankfurt would have done it all "with a usual good service and at a very fair price" ...... .. since I have such a baby and he also seems a bit soft after 22 years and 200000km, you can call me such a rough house number, what was all for what price was made? Or should we talk better about it?

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