The aero has been with me for 8 years. A long time, atypical for me. Certainly owing to the circumstances. You have to think twice about selling a Saab today. Because it's hard to find something better. I like the Aero, it is one of my favorite cars, the last hatchback from Trollhättan. Even if it's not the best Saab ever built.
What has bothered me for years is the wooden dashboard. The wood is real, valuable, comes from a company that works for the most expensive brands. Saab only started the nonsense with plastic wood with the 2006 model year. Plastic decor moved into the 9-5. A low point in the brand's history, from which the 9-3 Aero is still a long way off. When its first owner in Giessen ordered it from the age of 20, it had the choice between wood and real carbon. He put his cross in the wrong place.
Time for a redesign. The wood has to go out.
So that you don't get me wrong. I like wood in the 900 and 9000, where it is particularly noble. Also in the 9-5, where it fits well with the character of a very comfortable car. Even in the 9-3 I, but not in my Hirsch Aero with Viggen Body Kit. It looks like an old German wall unit on steroids. So it is clear that the stuff must be out!
Just what should go in?
A friend has embellished his 9-3 with foils in carbon design. The material is good, and the decor comes in almost every color. And it's not expensive either. But it's glued and if you know you can see it. I'm also a fan of Saab Original, so the film solution is ruled out. I would like the optionally available carbon dashboard from Saab. Only that doesn't exist anymore. In Sweden the abundant stocks were thrown on the market for a fraction of their value years ago to make room in the warehouse for VW and Opel spare parts. Now, a few years later, the parts are worth their weight in precious metal. But no longer available.
The search is lengthy. I am offered a few used parts over the months. Always damaged, attacked by the sun. 20 years have left their mark. And usually they are too expensive. Alternatively, I would get a dark dash from Saab, but it has color deviations from the climate, entertainment and SID. I don't like it either.
I'll be in at some point Frankfurt and tell of my problem, which in reality is not one. At Saab Service Frankfurt there is a 9-3 SE that has been converted into an aero look and has a special dashboard. Gray, tone on tone with the center console, the automatic air conditioning and everything around it. Looks like one piece, very simple, somehow Scandinavian, and it fits.
Puristic, cool gray moves in
It comes from the 900 II, and after a good 60 seconds of thinking I swap my old German wall cupboard decor for a puristic, cool gray.
Admittedly, it's not premium, but it's consistent, and over the months I like it better and better. And because I'm re-furnishing, the next thing is the steering wheel. Admittedly, this is almost new. An original aero steering wheel, the old, worn one is in the Saab hangar. I am somewhat upset by the economical upholstery that was somehow typical of Saab. Except for the great Turbo X steering wheel, Trollhättan saved in the wrong place. Because you could have offered willing customers better, easy-grip steering wheels for a surcharge. Just like other brands have been doing for decades and making good money.
A new steering wheel
In a hint of carelessness I drive to the Saddler I trust and hand over the old steering wheel without asking for the price. The design should be retained, only finer leather, nicely sewn and padded. All good.
A few weeks later, I'll get what I ordered. Probably the finest leather of my automobile career. Very pleasant, flattering the hand. Worth every single euro, a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The steering wheel is “wow”, so is the bill! Months later, the pain of the bill is forgotten. The steering wheel is still fun, the luxury in the upcoming classic and will be with me for a long time.
The interior is thus stylishly newly furnished. Shortly before I write the post, a friend's email arrives. He found a brand new original carbon dashboard. Are I still interested? Of course, the price is fair and I transfer the money. The dashboard is great, around 10 small stickers with names document the names of the people involved in its creation and the production steps. Touching, handmade, no mass-produced goods from a robot. Production 2007, as a Saab accessory. Certainly not cheap to manufacture.
I have had a carbon dashboard in stock ever since. As a reserve and option. Just in case. The Saab 9-3 Aero continues to roll. I like the Swede, even if it has its peculiarities. In the next post it will be technical again. And I fall into the old car trap.