Cockpit redesign. The Saab 9-3 should be cooler.

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.

Fine leather, structure like the original
Fine leather, structure like the original

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.

19 thoughts on "Cockpit redesign. The Saab 9-3 should be cooler."

  • It won't look good. I would advise a new (used) dashboard.

  • Hello, good morning. I have been a proud Saab 9-3 (1st) owner since yesterday. Unfortunately, I also have the problem of the carbon decal film that is loosening and would simply like to remove it and ask myself: Isn't the "original" plastic underneath the carbon decal anyway and is it enough to remove the old adhesive residue?

  • It is really just pure optics. And the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think it was always thought that because, as you wrote correctly, there is no weight saving. The dashboard is not replaced by a pure carbon part (which would only bring a negligible weight reduction), but an additional film is applied (which also only looks like carbon).

  • There is this water transfer printing. Wouldn't that be an alternative?

  • The gray decor of the 9-3 floor is supposed to be a little darker, but I haven't seen it. The color of the 900 NG fits perfectly.

  • Hi,
    I also had the idea the other day to throw out the wood decor. The Scandinavian simple gray is much more factual and timeless. It's cool that you documented this. Thumbs up. I like your aero very much.
    Question: is the gray fascia of the 900 NG and 9-3 OG identical? Different part numbers can be found in the EPC. In 9-3 there was also the gray plastic version. I'm asking because you chose the 900 NG. Maybe there's a reason for that?

  • Very interesting article.
    I have had a 9-3I Limited Cabrio for 5 years. A really nice car with beige leather seats.
    However, the wood in the dashboard has torn in some places and I would like to replace it. I also think that the wood is too dark for the light interior. But that is whining at a high level.
    The wood is no longer available. Foil is out of the question for me. Maybe there is still the company that made it for SAAB at that time.
    Does anyone know a solution?
    Thanks and best regards,

  • My aero had wood too. Back then, after buying it, I had it exchanged for an original dashboard in “titanium” look (there was wood, carbon or titanium in the accessories catalog at the time). Certainly not for everyone.

    I'm a little “jealous” of the steering wheel. The little existing upholstery has bothered me for a long time. But since I have still not decided whether to invest anything in the car at all, it will remain on the list for the time being.

  • in the old Saabs I like the wood very much, in the 9-5I like Paul I also find the wood beautiful. From the year of construction, I somehow find wood no longer suitable. The least suitable is wood in the 9-3II or 9-5NG. Wood somehow no longer fits in there.

  • Very good action, that fits!
    In my 900II SE Talladega, which contains some design elements of the later AERO, the dark plastic is also built in - absolutely harmonious with the surroundings.
    In the 900II SE Cabrio (green scarab, with beige interior) I would not have the idea of ​​changing the wood. I even upgraded a wooden gear knob.
    Now I am considering swapping the original steering wheel for a wood-leather combination, as the old leather is now showing slight signs of dissolution after 23 years. There is a solution in the deep south ...

    Greetings from the coast 🙂

  • Nice considerations and as always an interesting blog post. One sees / reads as always: what is liked or what is beautiful is allowed in the eye of the beholder. I can only speak for myself: in the silver 9-3 CV S of my wife I like the simple, gray plastic very well, in my black 9-3 CV Aero with Viggen Kit I like carbon in combination with the dark interior very well (carbon in Great condition, previous owner had it renewed), if I had an SE with beige interior, wood would be my favorite. Probably even with an aero with a beige interior. But some questions just don't come up, so we just live happily with our cars and just enjoy our SAABs 😉 Stay healthy !!!

  • No heart attack in any way. On the contrary. I think that's good. If Corona hadn't come, there would have been a comparable project here. So it's postponed, maybe to 2021, forecasts are currently difficult.

  • Looks really good, the tone-on-tone, I would not have thought.

    I find carbon terrible and also a little ridiculous, because the weight optimization achieved in a sports coupe makes no sense, but the main thing is that it pleases.
    My first 900 Turbo 16s had the real wood cover and the Nardi steering wheel. Today I think that's a bit old-fashioned and that's why I installed a piano-black dashboard on my current 900 Turbo 16s, including the lid of the glove compartment. Since originality is not particularly important to me - especially in the interior, I installed a radio with a 10 ″ screen, also because of the better legibility. (I hope no one will have a heart attack now 🙂).
    I like it very much. At the weekend I still covered the door pockets and the door inserts with black leather - also to better integrate the speakers built into the door pockets.

    I'm already grieving when I'm done ...

  • I also really like the pure variant. Makes something with its simplicity. I have the carbon design in my 9-3 I Cabrio. I also like it very well, unfortunately it peels off in some places and I wonder if it can be repaired or what is underneath if I would remove it (if that's possible) ?!

  • Sattler & tone on tone

    It looks damn chic. That's how I like Saab cockpits best. That's design. Nevertheless, the decoration department has also created something good ...

    I find it fascinating how well (depending on the exterior color and interior) the decors can harmonize with the Saabs, even though they actually form a contrast to switches, controls and fixtures ...

    With the emphasis on being able to. Failed combinations could also be ordered.

    The Saddler and the Scrappage Bonus

    The latter is already an issue again. I would be extremely interested in how many jobs in D are destroyed by the repeated and completely unimaginative scrapping campaign.
    An unemployed / former upholsterer once asked me about my classic car and complained of his suffering.

    Locksmiths, welders, painters, saddlers, coachbuilders and so on and so on ...

    On the other hand, there are increasing numbers of industrial robots that are producing more and more models abroad, even for German brands and groups.

    So how many jobs will be saved and how many will a national scrapping premium destroy and who will benefit the taxpayers' money if we buy new cars that are produced globally every few years?

    I consider this form of a “stimulus injection” to be completely irresponsible in any way. Be it environmental or social policy, economic or other political.

    You might as well detonate a few A-bombs and hope that the global fallout will somehow know how to act selectively where and when.

    So it's all the cooler that the blogger has such a big heart for his steering wheel and one of the last saddlers.

  • It may be that I am sensitive to light reflections ... In my case, the belt tongues of the back seat also move around on the top of the backrest instead of hanging on the catch buttons. The inclined light reaches them more poorly and the reflections then go into the roof instead of forward to the driver.

  • The cockpit. My one is always torn back and forth. The SE Cabrio sports chic wood, but you can see its age. The winter 5-door in S shows the silent, but also harmonious gray. Maybe it will be ebony zebrano if it doesn't look too artificial. I haven't noticed any reflections with the original wood design, even openly. Is the saddler of trust based in Estenfeld?

  • The dashboard in plastic: I've been looking at it for over 10 years and find it neither cheap nor unsuitable. The color matches the rest of the cockpit and the surface structure is unexcited and subtly matt. Last but not least, this fits the driver-oriented design.
    I temporarily considered an exchange for wood (because of the beige velor the only coherent option), but then I rejected it: the glossy wood or carbon surface, on the one hand, destroys the design restraint of the cockpit itself and also provides for annoying reflections in the field of vision of the driver.


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