A Saab 9-5? Yes which one should it be?

A few days ago I started looking for a Saab 9-5. I haven't really made any progress yet, first questions arise in conversation with a friend. With the old 9-5 series, Saab really offers something for every taste. In theory at least! Because, first experience, the selection is smaller than expected.

Which Saab should it be?

There are three series of the Saab 9-5 OG. The original form, which was built until 2001. The facelift, which has been extensively revised technically, and finally series number 3, known as chrome glasses. My search instinctively focuses on the 2nd series. Why actually? My friend intervenes. The original form is better, more classic. It wouldn't be a question for him.

The killer argument: If you want good, old Saab quality like in the 9000, you have to buy the Series 1. Hit that sits! Sunk! I'm thinking about it. I try my memory of old times. When almost all friends around me were still driving a 9-5. The original model was really the best choice, even if the more modern technology speaks for the facelift.

We are looking for series 1 or 2

I adjust my search. Series 1 or 2, I exclude the chrome glasses. I already had. And it will be difficult. Really difficult. Saab had sold more of the station wagon than of the sedan. The selection is correspondingly thin. But that's not all.

My desire for a bright interior has turned into a problem. There is nothing left to do with this in Sweden. The shelves are empty, everything was probably thrown into the container at Orio when they created space for the adventurous trade in VW and Opel spare parts. You don't even need to dream of a reproduction. As a consequence, I have to pay attention to complete, well-preserved equipment.

At least here it will be sad. I admit, the old Saab 9-5 generation was passed down as a cheap used car for years. Only in the last few years has it become increasingly appreciated, but too late for many vehicles. Accordingly, models with a light interior are ordered. For one thing, they're rare. The German himself prefers black interiors and leasing silver across all brands. Or black interiors and black as the exterior color.

On the other hand, many of the vehicles on offer have the interior behind them. Instead of beige it is dirty black. It's like taking miners out of the shaft and putting them in the car, but first refusing them a shower. Even with a lot of money and work there is nothing left to save. Good, well-cared for specimens are almost always nil. The market is desolate. It's a lot worse than it was on 9000 years ago.

That doesn't suggest anything good.

Not for the old 9-5 series and their future as a classic. Survivors will have to be looked for with a magnifying glass in a few years. That in turn is bad for the spare parts supply. Few cars, little demand, who would like a reproduction?

The days are passing by, I search all portals. The result is zero. Time is slowly boiling me. Should I make a compromise? Lease silver and black leather. Or chrome glasses? There the selection would be the largest.

I get doubts and start looking for alternatives. Was it all just a strange idea? The crisis is here!

30 thoughts on "A Saab 9-5? Yes which one should it be?"

  • Well, it's a good thing that I secured a 9-5 Saabine with halfway useful substance back in June. The engine overhaul that was due has devoured 4500 €, but the remaining substance is so good that I can get my girl ready in peace.
    The plan is: As a daily driver to classic car status. Since BJ 98, MY99 still 8 years ...

  • @ Ebasil (classified ads)

    no, I can only see the AZ now and only through your reference. So thank you very much. If the money were just sitting loose despite Corona, defaulting and insolvent customers, I would actually strike and deer.

    The little “t” behind the 2.3 is as close to an Aero (2.3T) as it gets. That's a really good offer. I hope the beautiful car will come into good hands.

  • Volvaab - sought-after sedan with chrome glasses

    Have you seen the steel-gray limousine in the classifieds here on the blog? Looks VERY good!

  • Volvaab - Exactly!

    He would of course have a 9-5 SC NG - no question! 🙂

    (But if he would, he would also find the Bavarian 5 series good, but not inspiring, partly unfriendly, and the prices, service, etc. at the branch catastrophic. Absolutely no comparison to our friendly from Saab Words included, quite right ... ;-))

    Have a nice weekend - and enjoy the existing Saab in the sun! 🙂

  • @ Ebasil (bicycle chain)

    There she is again, the troll would have, would have ...
    The 9-5 NG SC would be what I would have now, would have ...

    As a deer 2.0T BioPower Aero with or without XWD and as a 6-speed manual switch. And the way I think you would, if your loved one had a very similar car today, no one else would be able to drive if this Saab existed. If there was still an E85, then certainly not ...

  • Volvaab - 6th gear

    Yes, the 6th gear has a long ratio in my two treasures and the gearshift is really great! I don't want to do without that. As I said: the unstable gearshift in the 2007 convertible was terrible, real Opel crap. At that time I had chosen myself and ordered it as a new car, 6 courses were important to me. Tom had recently written somewhere that the 5-speed gearbox offered at the same time came from Saab and was incomparably better. Of course I didn't know.

    With the transmissions it got better and better, then came from Saab. Already great with the 2011 SC, but somehow even better with the convertible. The gears just fly in, totally full, zack zack and a great translation! It's great fun with the deer turbo petrol engine (BioPower). Let's see how it will feel with the diesel turbo in the Combi next year, if I've stolen it too! 🙂 🙂 🙂 And a sliding roof comes in ... 🙂 🙂 🙂 Yes, my sustainable craft projects with a fun factor (instead of buying new cars) are far from over ... 🙂

    I just had the original Saab hands-free system retrofitted to the Combi, which I have sorely missed since selling the 2007 convertible. That's so great, will also be in the convertible next year. 🙂

    Yes, I understand the size well. Must just fit! It was the same with me. My dearest would have liked to buy a new Saab 6-9 SC when he was looking for a big new station wagon with the latest bells and whistles (distance climate, etc., automatic, of course, uh) and Euro 5, lowercase letters anyway - if there was still something like that. So it became a comfortable, powerful, but completely soulless BMW 5 Series (Audi had cheated us enough) with partly chaotic operation. For example, at the beginning of a 300 km tour it was not possible to find out how to direct the flow of warm air to my ice feet! 🙁 🙁 🙁

  • @ Ebasil (6 courses),

    a neatly stepped and crisp gearbox with short distances and a precise setting is at the top of my list in a 9-5 I of unfulfilled wishes.

    The 1st and 2nd gear fit my deer engine (2.0t) perfectly. This leads to breaks. A 6th gear and a little shorter geared 3, 4 and 5 would be perfect. But I need the space. My confidante even refused to give me a 9-3 SC….

    No joke. He pointed out my height and the fact that my sons would not have long space on the back seat. Especially not behind me ...

    That was the first and last time he had no dollar signs in his eyes when talking to me.

    It is this one and only conversation that I still give him credit for today. Incidentally, he drives chrome SC glasses himself.

  • Regardless of which model series it is, because it is simply a matter of taste ... If it is no problem for Tom to use a right-hand drive, you will find a number of offers in the UK. Partly at least visually in good shape and partly with few miles on the clock.
    I am a little sorry not to have looked for my second horse in the stable, a 9-3 I - there.

  • Volvaab - input

    That related to the sad question of scrapping spare parts. Yes, the disgusting keys, I have now bought 3 of 4 completely new in Kiel, the upper part with the emergency key attached and the lower transmitter cover. One of the old keys from the Combi had dissolved so that the emergency key wiggled out completely. Interestingly, in Kiel I got 3 × replacement in hard plastic for the 1 new station wagons (for the upper key and the transmitter cover), it looks the same and the problem is solved. A new emergency key from the wobble kit, on the other hand, is broken again.

    The rotary switches, which can be used intuitively and blindly, are much better than the difficult-to-use touch buttons. Last year I also briefly considered buying chrome glasses, as such a relaxed vehicle. But then I decided on the much younger 9-3 SportCombi, I don't need such a huge car, I wanted 6 gears and, above all, at least Euro 5.

    Chrome glasses sedans in acceptable condition should still exist !?

  • Markus

    A very interesting car - unfortunately far too cheap for so many beautiful cars! That would have been exactly what Tom would have if he hadn't found his sweetheart long ago. But it's great that so many readers are now looking for 9-5s and also report on their positive experiences. This may lead to higher appreciation and, in turn, interest in buying from other readers who have not even thought of the 9-5 in this form. Then go ahead - buy it! And save these loyal companions! 🙂

  • @ Ebasil (input)

    please, but I haven't written anything about 9-5 ...

    Experience with the older ones is limited to a test drive in an SC and a limousine as a workshop vehicle.

    I only have real experience with chrome glasses (SC) and have therefore abstained from the very detailed and controversial discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of different years of construction.

    I can add and add that the keys of the glasses also get disgusting after a while and stay that way until the wobble material has completely peeled off.

    Coating of plastics is also an issue inside. The door handles are initially matt and easy to grip. Then it rubs off and a darker, smooth and latently shiny hard plastic appears.

    That annoys me. And it smells like savings. The coating was probably cheaper than setting the plastic through and through in a color and feel that matched the rest of the interior.

    Somebody other than me has to judge and contribute whether this is better for older years of construction.

    I still like the chrome glasses. In addition to the red pencil, progress also reigned a little here and there, as can be seen from the comments. Be it xenon, 5 instead of 4-speed automatic, standard 2-zone automatic air conditioning, for this also practical and beautiful rotary switches instead of annoying and ugly buttons. Reliable 2,3T (Aero) with the so far and forever highest performance standard Saab 4-cylinder etc ...

    Ultimately it is a matter of taste and for every year of construction there are pros and cons ...

    Personally, I am annoyed that I did not buy a younger (chrome glasses) sedan as an Aero and put it next to the SC when the range was still good and plentiful, the mileage was low and a sedan was around 5.000 € cheaper than a comparable SC.

  • How nice that there are different tastes (and experiences), so hopefully the few remaining 9-5 from the various series will find (or already have) the owner who appreciates them, cherishes them and looks after them.

    I'm curious what kind of sweetheart Tom finally found, because he is only (very successfully) teasing us with this exciting retrospective! 🙂 I'm looking forward to every single sequel.

    Personally, unlike my two previous commentators, I think the snout of the first series is by far the most beautiful.

    But often the later stages of development are actually technically better. In my 2007 convertible, only the third alternator stopped and the gearshift was totally awkward to get into 6th gear practically only with force - despite various workshop attempts to get it away. That was probably bad Opel crap. Otherwise, apart from the usual wear and tear, nothing has happened in more than 10 years. However, my 2012 convertible and my 2011 9-3 SC are somehow even better, no quirks at all. Absolutely reliable. They were also produced in Sweden - which unfortunately soon ended…. 🙁

  • Admittedly, the first facelift of the 9-5 is the most beautiful, the first 9-5 is the most "original" and the chrome glasses are no proof of continuous embellishment. The market was and is typical for large Saabs like the 9000 and the 9 series, but the 9-3 / I also has the fate of the cheap constant companion regardless of losses. That also makes me very, very sad.
    But on the subject of the original: my earlier 2000 9-5 Aero station wagon drove me crazy and made me regret the sale of my trusty 9000 2,3tu CSE bitterly. As soon as something has been repaired, the next construction site started. It was a bottomless pit. What have I cursed this car. Friends of mine were also unlucky with this model. And what standard Opel seats are doing in an Aero has remained hidden from me to this day. (Note: my 9000 was not free from breakdowns either and over the years it made me invest quite a bit). It was my chrome glasses, a 2006 Aero combi switch, that reconciled me with the 9-5 issue eight years ago: it turned out to be a very faithful and reliable companion, without any major technical breakdowns. It has crept into our hearts as my family's favorite car. Some plastics have flaky paintwork, but otherwise the chrome glasses run like clockwork. In 29 years of Saab, our 2006 9-5 is the highest quality and probably the best Saab we have ever driven. Admittedly, a 900 simply has flair - but who would like to drive 900 km non-stop home from Croatia with a full load? A few months ago I got a 2006 9-5 Aero Kombi Automatic: 250 tkm, a few small optical battle marks and no idea what I need it for. But after the test drive I absolutely had to have it. And because I have too many Saabs, I actually wanted to pass it on to Saab friends again. But after the first few kilometers it was clear that this 9-5 will not help reduce my vehicle fleet. What about my wife? Guess which car she'll grab when she needs one? We drive chrome glasses with conviction - with varifocal and foresight!
    Franconian greetings

  • At that time I was looking for a 9-5 station wagon Aero Facelift from model 2002 (2nd series)
    on my wish list were features like: outside black, inside black, electr. Seats, automatic and sunroof.
    The air became very, very thin, the search resulted in almost no hits on all common portals in the network ...

    In the end I found my dream car, unfortunately very cheap with significant defects, I had to invest a lot of work, time and money!
    But now I have the perfect car for me. Esö is almost all completely repaired, it looks good inside and out and drives sensationally ......
    Regarding the model series, for me the 9-5 Aero from 2002 is the most beautiful model, it looks a bit more modern without exaggerating (like the chrome glasses).
    The 2.3 Turbo with the 250PS and the 5-speed automatic drives much more relaxed than the predecessor with 230PS and only 4 stages in the transmission.
    The MK2 seats are simply a dream, no comparison to the old armchairs!
    I use the Aero as a company vehicle with around 40.000km a year and I've never got out of the car cramped.

    I think your decision to switch to Saab as an everyday / business car is very good, I can fully recommend it, I haven't regretted it for a minute in the last 1,5 years ..... Not quite a moment, the distance radar
    - I miss cruise control a little but that was the only modern gimmick that made sense to me 😉

    Good luck with your search, don't give up, it's worth it

  • Tom, Hans S., aero50, EF-elch, Capri73, Volvaab: Interesting, interesting, interesting!

    I am not learning enough and am happy about so much input on the 9-5:

    That my various questions asked below about the differences between the series were not so stupid, but will be explained in a long series of articles. Great, the blog is not running out of interesting topics, I'm looking forward to it!

    According to the brochure, the 9-5 was available without air conditioning, as Capri73 found out, and this from aero50 with the special “Troll” (what was that addition? I only know from our cute stickers etc.) at the weekend will even be checked on site. Also great, I'm happy, the exchange of readers is great fun!

    However, with the 9-3 II to 9-3III I cannot confirm from my own experience that the material gets worse with every facelift - apart from those disgusting, loose rubber ignition keys, uh! (I never had it with the 9-3 II, but it's a constant problem with the 9-3 III.) Still an interesting thesis.

    Also interesting, but really horrible and incomprehensible, is the information that Tom shared recently that ORIO's spare parts have been scrapped. Another piece of the puzzle in the failure of the Swedish decision-makers ... Leaves you shaking your head!

  • @ Tom, I just checked the 1998 model year catalog. The air conditioning was not standard! Automatic air conditioning only on the SE models. You could order air conditioning for DM 2900 or automatic air conditioning for DM 3700. The air conditioning was standard on the 3.0 liter.
    By the way, after every facelift the quality deteriorates, regardless of the manufacturer and if only the body rigidity is removed from the C-pillar! Nobody notices, but the model brings more profit!

  • @Volvaab Unfortunately applicable. Some parts were sold off, others were scrapped. To be fair: It is not the current Orio management that is responsible for clearing the warehouse. But: what is gone is gone.

  • Orio

    The assumption that parts ended up in the container is tough stuff. Can it really be?

    It would be amazing. Totally unnecessary. Incredibly cynical of Orio. Are there any indications of such an evacuation of the camps?
    Maybe a time-concentrated wave of delistings without a special sale beforehand?

    It would be so infinitely sad and pointless if people had actually acted like that, if the corresponding guesswork had hands and feet, head and tail ...

  • @ EF-elch So it is. The body and choice of materials were at a relatively high level. With the facelift, quality and workmanship decreased, the red pencil struck. The technical problems of the first years of construction, however, are history and long since cured.

    Long-term teaser: The history of the series will come (at some point) on the blog. The project is more extensive than first thought and turns out to be a surprise package. In addition to what was there, what was never on the market is also interesting. And there are exciting background stories from what came out on the market.

  • Why the 9-5 should have been better until the first facelift is not clear to me !?
    I remember very often defective throttle valves, turbocharger damage, engine leaks, SID and ACC pixel errors, etc. were unfortunately almost daily business.
    Okay - the bodywork is probably better from today's point of view !?

  • @Ebasli, I'll be there on Saturday and ask if the troll actually has no air conditioning !? Somehow I can't imagine.

  • @Volvaab Looking back. As with any sequel story, read the previous chapter. The timing of the plot will be more concrete in the coming chapters, because they play a certain role.

  • @Ebasli There is no 9-5 without automatic air conditioning, I think there is a mistake in the ad. In any case, the control panel is there.

  • Confusion

    Does that mean the search begins now? I understood the gentleman teaser (nice project name for the 9-5 I as a limousine) to mean that the new one was in the stable.

    Is the article retrospective or does it reflect the status quo?

  • Hans S.

    Yes, undoubtedly a beautiful car in a very beautiful exterior color! But a 9-5 without any air conditioning would never be considered for me, especially as a daily driver that Tom is looking for. Strange that at that time this class still existed or did not exist with the equipment (ventilated seats!). 🙁

  • A 9-5 Limo in the combination dark green / beige was recently parked near Munich. Full service history for 450 €, only the turbocharger had to be replaced.

  • So, if I hadn't bought one two months ago, Series 1, 3.0t V6, I'd have a look:


    Dark blue and gray inside, 9-5 Hirsch Troll R built in 1998, at most the automatic disturbs. I do not know whether it can take this performance in the long term.
    And yes, the vehicle is parked at the Heuschmid and costs something. You can now be as you want to be with the Heuschmids, they always have great cars and absolutely understand something about Saab!

  • It remains exciting! As the only 9-3 driver so far, I would be interested in a short table showing exactly the differences between the individual series. So a short outline of the respective improvements, modernizations, equipment and technical changes of series 1, 2 and 3 - as well as the obviously increasing defects / savings the younger the series was. Does anyone have any information? 🙂

    The 9-5 interests me insofar as I once had a station wagon from Lafrentz, built in 99 as a workshop vehicle. Although over 300tkm under its belt, an impressively pleasant and relaxed vehicle!

    Between 1 and 2 I noticed the modified radiator grille, which was then also found in the 9-3 II from 2003 (and remained until the 9-3 III from 2008) - and which I never liked. And inside: When did the 9-5 have the rotary switch instead of the tip switch, e.g. for the air conditioning? That was the case with the 9-3 from MY 2007. I found the rotary switches to be a significant improvement, as they are more intuitive to use. However, the silver stripe on the dashboard was really annoying and really annoying at night because of the reflection. It only disappeared with the really successful Griffin dashboard (MY 2012). From 9 onwards, the interior of the 3-2003 II was also characterized by a cheaper hard plastic atmosphere, which then became significantly better with the other facelifts. Was it the other way around with the 9-5?

    And what emission classes did the individual models have? The chrome glasses Euro 4 - and those before? And the circuit? 5-speed? The 6-speed gearshift in my 2007 9-3 convertible was a bit wobbly, but in the 2012 it was really good.

    Oh, way too many questions, I got really into rambling again 🙁, but now the lunch break has been filled with Saab ... 🙂

  • Unfortunately, the friend is right. Series 1 is definitely the better Saab. The problem with that is really finding one who is good. Meanwhile, the owners also know what their treasure is worth and what it can do. They don't separate as easily as they used to. Whoever got a good one hit the jackpot.

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