The Aero has been with me for 8 years. A long time, totally uncharacteristic for me. Certainly due to the circumstances. Selling a Saab is something you have to think twice about today. Because it's hard to find anything better. I like the Aero, it's one of my favorite cars, the last hatchback from Trollhättan.
Even if it's not the best of all Saabs ever built.
What has bothered me for years is the wooden dashboard. The wood is real, it's valuable, it comes from a company that works for the most expensive brands. The nonsense with the plastic wood started at Saab only with the model year 2006. Then plastic decor moved into the 9-5. A low point in the history of the brand, from which the 9-3 Aero is fortunately still a long way off.
When its first owner in Gießen ordered it 20 years ago, he had the choice between wood and real carbon. He put his cross in the wrong place. Time for the redesign.
Time for a redesign - the wood has to go.
So that you don't misunderstand me. I like wood in the 900 and 9000 where it is particularly noble. Also in the 9-5, where it goes well with the character of a fairly comfortable car. Even in the 9-3 OG, but not in my Hirsch Performance Aero with Viggen Body Kit. It looks like an old German wall unit on steroids. So it's clear, the stuff has to go!
Just what should go in?
A friend has embellished his 9-3 with carbon design foils. The material is good, and the decor is available in almost every color. And it's not expensive either. But it's glued, and if you know about it, you can see it.
I'm also a fan of Saab Original, so the foil solution is out of the question. I would like Saab's optional carbon dashboard. Only, that doesn't exist anymore. In Sweden, years ago, the plentiful stock was dumped on the market for a fraction of its value to make room in the warehouse for VW and Opel spare parts.
Now, a few years later, these parts would be worth their weight in precious metal. Are people now angry in Sweden? Because the warehouses are empty, carbon is no longer available.
The search is tedious. I've been offered a few used parts over the months. Always damaged, attacked by the sun. Of course, 20 years leave their mark. And mostly they are the offers too expensive. Alternatively, I would get a dark dashboard 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-Fechenheim and tell me about my problem, which really isn't one. At Saab Service Frankfurt, there is an 9-3 SE that has been converted to an aero look and has a special dashboard. It's gray to match the center console, climate control and everything around it. Looks like it was made of one piece, very simple, somehow Scandinavian, and it fits.
Redesign – puristic, cool gray is moving in
It actually comes from the 900 NG, i.e. the predecessor series. After thinking about it for a good 60 seconds, I swap my old German wall unit decor for a puristic, cool grey.
Granted, it's not premium. But it's coherent, and over the months I like the redesign better and better. And because I'm in the process of furnishing, the next thing to do is the steering wheel. Admittedly, this is almost new. An original Aero steering wheel, the old worn one is in the Saab hangar.
I'm a bit upset by the economical upholstery, which was somehow typical of Saab. Except for the great Turbo X steering wheel, savings were made in the wrong place in Trollhättan. Because you could have offered the willing customers, for a hefty surcharge, of course, better and grip-friendly steering wheels.
Just like other brands have been doing for decades and making good money.
Redesign - a new steering wheel for the Saab
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 receive what I ordered. Probably the finest leather in my car career. Very comfortable, caresses 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, is the luxury in the upcoming classic and will be with me for a long time.
The interior is stylishly newly furnished. Just before I write the post, I get an email from a friend. He found a brand new original carbon dashboard. Am I still interested? Of course, the price is fair and I'll transfer the money. The dashboard is great, around 10 small stickers with names documenting the names of the people involved in its creation and the production steps.
Touching, handcrafted, not mass-produced by a robot. Production 2007, as Saab Accessories. Definitely not cheap to make.
Since then I have had a Saab carbon dashboard in stock. As a reserve and option. Just in case I change my mind. The Saab 9-3 Aero keeps rolling. I like the Swede, even if he has his own peculiarities. The next post will be technical again. And I fall into the scrap car trap.