Saab Stories: A Saab Needs a Name…

I’ve been slowly coming to the conclusion that I’m probably in it for the long haul with the Saab; a fact primarily evidenced by my accidental purchase of e-codes. I mean, if I’ve gone to the trouble of securing e-codes for it, I’m pretty much committed, right? As such, continuing to call the Saab the Saab doesn’t feel right. So it needs a name. My last Saab was Sid. And Sid was a great Saab. This one is no less great, but without a name it’s a bit anonymous. So here’s what I’ve got as contenders…

  1. Maximilian von Spee
  2. Skidmark (Thanks Jim)
  3. Baron Harkonnen (Baron for short)
  4. Ragnarok
  5. William Wallace (because of its Bridge of Weir leather)

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments welcomed!


What does this looks like?

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Saab 9000s On the Brain…

While I’m far from done with my project Saab 900, it’s never too early to think ahead to the next money pit. I’ve loved the 9000 for a long time. My friend had one in high school and even with its 4-speed slusher that car hauled ass moved with great alacrity! I’ve always admired the “futuristic” 80s looks, plus it’s got a great mill under the hood, and it’s very practical; all of which makes it the platonic evolution of the 900 in many ways. It also seems that the universe is subtly sending my signals that I should buy a 9000.


Case in point: over the weekend, Jim at Tamerlane’s Thoughts tweeted me a 9000 MotorWeek review (see below), then the other Jim, over at Old Dead Volvos, spent Sunday morning sending me CL ads with 9000s. Then I get this month’s Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car, which includes a test of the 9000 vs its platform mate, the Alfa Romeo 164. So it seems the 9000 is out there floating on the ether of the car guy collective unconscious. It would be rude to ignore it, wouldn’t it?

So let’s take a few minutes and look back at the 9000 in all its glory! Any post that starts with a MotorWeek review can’t be that bad, right?

LIMITED EDITION? Only 400 made? Sign me up!

I’ve always liked to imagine what it was like to watch these promotional videos at dealers when they were new and relevant. Did most sales staff even pay attention to these? Were they as riveted by such trivial details such as a digital trip computer? I know I am!

Sound Advice?

We'll see you soon

My Volvo/Saab buddies and I waste precious time and energy each day with our constant chatter about cars. During a recent and rather profane email chain comparing the virtues and pitfalls of the Mercedes r107 series cars (better known as the SL) my Subaru somehow came into the discussion. Unfortunately, that car has recently cost me a bit of coin in recent months to sort a lower suspension issues. One that is thankfully solved. When I told my friends of my woes, their reaction was measured and supportive, ahem…

Zack, I think you should sell the subaru. After you are finished reading this email, you should take some pictures of it and list it on craigslist. The 900 can become your daily driver. Then, use half of the proceeds from the subaru to buy something from the 60s or 70s, and the other half for tools. That is what I would do if I were in your situation. I wouldn’t lead you astray. Look at how much douchier Tim has become after following my crazy ideas.

Thanks, Zo. Really. With friends like these…

Saab Stories: Winter Mode Activated & Accidental E-code Update

Got some more work done on the car this weekend! Continued the bodywork – mostly more sanding and body filler, but each time I put in the work it gets me closer to completion. Body work is fun (in its own way) but it takes time and when I’m relying on Jim’s climate controlled garage for warmth and shelter, progress is slow going.


Most satisfyingly, I installed the second e-code and got both sides wired up. The results are amazing! Bright, clear light with excellent light throw. While the whole adventure was a bit unplanned, I’m really glad I did it, now driving at night is fun again!


Aziz! Light! Very good Aziz…*

I also swapped out the dry-rotted summer tires for the much healthier looking studded snows. Even with the studs, the tires aren’t actually that loud and should I come across a gravel stage, I’ll be read to Röhrl with it.


Hey there stud…


Saab Stories: Accidental E-codes

Ok, this is gonna be one of those boring, ubur car nerd posts, feel free to skip this one if you’re not into learning about the differences between US DOT exterior car lighting standards and European ECE regulations. Wooo-boy, we’re in for a barn-burner tonight!

Feeling bashful...

You can’t really tell, but that light is all kinds of droopy!

So, when I bought the Saab I noticed that the passenger side headlamp was droopy, as if someone punched my car in the face, droopy. Apparently this is a common issue on US market cars, on account of an extra (even for Saab) fiddly “engineering.”  In addition to being prone to the googly-eyed thing, the stock headlamps throw light about as well as ole Socks Siebold (ed – I had some help on that one). Seeing as I live in the city and don’t do a lot of night driving, I wasn’t too concerned about the poor performance of the headlights. I figured I’ve got fogs and have a set of Hella auxiliary lamps I’ve been meaning to install because faux rally-racecar pretensions are cool.

Getting things apart is the easy part...

Getting things apart is the easy part…

Nevertheless, the lack of symmetry was driving me nuts.  And I wasn’t about to break a perfectly good headlamp on the driver’s side just to match. So for the last few months I’ve been on the look-out for a replacement headlamp assembly. A few weeks back I was over at my second home, ABJ auto parts in scenic Somerville, MA and I offhandedly asked my bookie parts guy if he had a replacement lamp in stock. Low and behold he does! He gives me a very fair and deeply discounted price and I leave a happy man and a few hundos lighter. The following week I’m down a Jim’s doing body work on the old girl (more to come on that!) and while I’m taking a break from breathing in harmful chemicals and having another beer and I figure, hey good time to take care of that light.


Here comes Zo to save me from myself…

So in it goes, and good old Zo (bless his heart) is there to make sure I don’t really hurt myself; meanwhile Jim is off saying something in the background about mission creep and that getting distracted with the light is folly, or something like that, I was mostly ignoring him. We go to connect the light and notice the connectors don’t match and the housing is different from the light we removed. Taking a closer look at the light it dawns on us that what we’re holding in our hot little hands is a genuine e-code lamp! Groovy!

The difference in clarity of glass is really stark, and its not just a feature of age and wear. These promise to be better and brighter.

The difference in clarity of glass is really stark, and its not just a feature of age and wear. These promise to be better and brighter.

So what’s an e-code? Well, the long and the short of it is an e-code is just a better headlamp because of the reflector style, bulb type and the fact that’s its European and we all know that things that are European are better! If you really want to know . Of course, any car guy (or gal!) worth their salt knows that European/better = more cash. All I was looking for was a damned mediocre US light to replace my droopy eyes, not to get pulled into a rabbit hole of e-code headlights, and yet here I am. So the new light went in, sans the 9003 bulb. I call up ABJ and  I’m now another hundo lighter and the proud owner of a second, matching e-code for the driver’s side. I’ll hopefully get the second light in this weekend and wired up and all that jazz. And that kids, is how I invested too much money into an old, broke ass Saab and why we’re living in it.

Saab Stories: Summer Sunday Funday Redux

Q: What is the difference between a Saab and a shopping cart?

A: A shopping cart is much easier to push.

Replacing axles is seriously dirty work. Seriously dirty work.

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Good lord, I’ve got to get the lead out when it comes to posting these things. It’s November 2nd and these jobs were done in August and September! At any rate, I’m pleased as punch to say that in the last few months I’ve made a lot of progress! I’ve replaced both front axles, ball-joints on the driver’s side (passenger side to come), the valve cover gasket, thermostat, some misc. hoses (thanks Jesse!) and upgraded my stereo. Oh, I’ve also gone through nearly an entire box of blue latex shop gloves. Saabin’ gets messy. Hey, I’ve even learned a thing or two!


Keys to Saab restoration – a clean well-ordered space + latex gloves + beer. Well, this is mostly right.

I must be getting better at this, because things are getting easier… I know I’ve commented complained on more than a few occasions about the difficulties of working on this car. While some things are super annoying many jobs are actually kinda easy and there is a certain user friendliness to these cars once you get to know them. So while I’m still pretty inept, it is getting easier.

So things I’ve learned. Replacing axles is dirty work, but surprisingly easy on this car. There are actually 2 ball joints per side, for a total of 4. Order accordingly. Replacing ball joints is great if you’re feeling frustrated. Finally, Founder’s All Day IPA is a godsend for the shade tree mechanic. It’s the tasty beer that won’t dull your senses! Meaning, it’s not gonna totally obliterate you if you drink more than 2 in an afternoon.