doc_speeder
doc_speeder Reader
1/16/13 7:03 p.m.

So my Daytona Pace Car Grand Prix GTP is for sale. I'm not in a hurry to sell it, as I quite like it for commuting duties, but it's not a "fun" car in the way my previous Mk2 and Mk3 VW's were.

If I get my price and end up selling it, I'd like to replace it with something that meets ALL the following criteria:

1) I want a convertible. Irrational given the part of the planet I reside in, but I want one anyway

2) Reasonable fast or more

3) Comfortable, relaxed highway cruiser

4) Decently trustworthy (as good or better than my VWs, which were actually pretty decent)

5) Something you don't see every day

6) European preferably

7) Decent enough handling to have fun (note, not necessarily competitive) at the odd autocross

8) At home on a twisty mountain road driven at 7-8/10ths

9) Decent fuel economy - equal or better than the GTP

10) Good parts supply

11) A good knowledge base of enthusiasts

12) $7500 or less

13) front or rear wheel drive is ok

14) manual trans

Did I just describe a Saab 9-3 Viggen convertible?

Saabs in general have always been just off my radar, but I've also always sort of appreciated them.

Sorry for the long list, but I've put a fair amount of thought into this already.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy UberDork
1/16/13 7:59 p.m.

Yes, you absolutely described a Viggen! Just avoid the '99s and you'll be golden (they had issues with burning holes in pistons). Even a later 9-3CV ticks all the boxes, but you get GM Ecotec turbo power instead of the Saab B235FT.

thestig99
thestig99 HalfDork
1/16/13 8:30 p.m.

As long as you don't put much emphasis on the hopes for handling, yes. There are plenty of things out there that will make it suck less in that regard, but that is the weak point.

Beware of sludge.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy UberDork
1/16/13 9:38 p.m.

Check out genuinesaab.com for some parts that will greatly improve handling (and power, too).

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/16/13 10:00 p.m.

the the Viggin is a noodle under acceleration.. the vert Viggin is a wet noodle

Aspen
Aspen New Reader
1/17/13 9:05 a.m.
mad_machine wrote: the the Viggin is a noodle under acceleration.. the vert Viggin is a wet noodle

Truff!

Maybe look for a 2.0l 2004 9-3 vert instead. Should be close to your price level. Spend $700 on an ECU tune and it should tick all the right boxes. The car is way stiffer than the prior generation. Good reliability, better than VAG.

Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen
1/17/13 9:24 a.m.

Aren't #4 and #6 on your list somewhat incompatible?

I had an NG900 and it was not a bad car but had kind of floppy handling when driven hard. A Viggen might be better.

I second the motion for the later 9-3. The GM Ecotec is a great engine and has

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy UberDork
1/17/13 9:29 a.m.
Robert Bowen wrote: Aren't #4 and #6 on your list somewhat incompatible?

Why would they be? We're not talking about a 5-cylinder Audi here.

Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen
1/17/13 9:35 a.m.

In my experience they are but I've only had E30s, Fiats, Saabs and Merkurs!

That said, I know through vicarious experience that the newer 93s are much better than the ng900 I had.

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/17/13 9:46 a.m.
Robert Bowen wrote: Aren't #4 and #6 on your list somewhat incompatible? I had an NG900 and it was not a bad car but had kind of floppy handling when driven hard. A Viggen might be better. I second the motion for the later 9-3. The GM Ecotec is a great engine and has

I had a 94 NG900 SE Turbo.. the car was an accident waiting to happen when under boost.. never had I ever felt such torque steer

Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen
1/17/13 9:59 a.m.

Mine did not have enough power or traction for bad torque steer. But it had enough body roll to make up for it.

mtn
mtn PowerDork
1/17/13 10:27 a.m.

Sounds like you've described an E30 or E36 convertible plus forced induction. Or an M3 convertible (are they getting that cheap yet?).

Is this going to be your only car? Not that there is anything wrong with the Viggen, it just wouldn't be my first choice.

pres589
pres589 SuperDork
1/17/13 10:41 a.m.

I believe the aftermarket has brace and steering rack clamp options that reduce or eliminate the torque steer. Have not experienced these cars myself but looked at them pretty hard before I ended up with a Mustang convertible instead.

It seems like nearly any convertible you're going to consider, additional structure is going to be suggested.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds Reader
1/17/13 11:08 a.m.

Pretty sure there is a cowl brace that will really help the Viggen. Go for it.

doc_speeder
doc_speeder Reader
1/17/13 12:23 p.m.

Thanks for all the input so far.

re: the BMW suggestion - I had thought of them but for some reason I've never been really interested in them.

It's not my only car. I have a Chev pickup and my wife has a Mazda 5. I tend to drive the truck in the winter as it is. My GTP is too pristine to punish it with any salt.

Did the 2004 up cars lose a significant amount of "Saab-ness"? I am impressed in general with better structural rigidity and the GM Ecotec based motor.

Are the electronics/HVAC/power accessories notably more durable in either the pre or post 2004 models?

Aspen
Aspen New Reader
1/17/13 12:33 p.m.
conesare2seconds wrote: Pretty sure there is a cowl brace that will really help the Viggen. Go for it.

Might calm the torque steer but won't help the awful chassis flex. I as all serious about buying a NG9-3 vert until I actual took one for a drive. Yikes it was like a slinky.

Matt B
Matt B Dork
1/17/13 1:03 p.m.

6cyl Z3?

Cheapest S2000 you can find?

Murano convertible?

doc_speeder
doc_speeder Reader
1/17/13 1:04 p.m.

In reply to Matt B:

Sorry, one more requirement to the above. Must have room for 4. I don't want a car I can't take my family in.

As for the Murano? Uggggh. That is all.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy UberDork
1/17/13 1:09 p.m.

The radios in the 04-up models are supposedly known for being a bit more fiddly/less ergonomically sound, but there isn't anything wrong with them per se. Otherwise, electronics/HVAC are pretty much a horse a piece on the 9-3. They don't have the same trouble-prone air blend assembly that the 9-5s have.

Matt B
Matt B Dork
1/17/13 1:55 p.m.

Just pullin' yer chain with the Nissan suggestion there Doc

doc_speeder
doc_speeder Reader
1/17/13 4:12 p.m.
Matt B wrote: Just pullin' yer chain with the Nissan suggestion there Doc

Haha, I figured as much. But this IS a pretty diverse crowd on here...so you never know!

Soooo, anyway, about those BMW's I said I wasn't interested in:

I didn't realize I'd be able to get an early E46 car in my budget, but a quick search of the web indicates otherwise. Is there anything other than "typical" German car stuff I should be worried about? Is the driveline with the 2.5 I6 pretty stout (durable, not fast obviously)? Seeing as how I wouldn't be driving it too much, is 120,000-140,000 miles on one of these scary?

I'm assuming the BMW is a better drivers car than the Saab.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy UberDork
1/17/13 4:20 p.m.
doc_speeder wrote:
Matt B wrote: Just pullin' yer chain with the Nissan suggestion there Doc
Haha, I figured as much. But this IS a pretty diverse crowd on here...so you never know! Soooo, anyway, about those BMW's I said I wasn't interested in: I didn't realize I'd be able to get an early E46 car in my budget, but a quick search of the web indicates otherwise. Is there anything other than "typical" German car stuff I should be worried about? Is the driveline with the 2.5 I6 pretty stout (durable, not fast obviously)? Seeing as how I wouldn't be driving it too much, is 120,000-140,000 miles on one of these scary? I'm assuming the BMW is a better drivers car than the Saab.

The BMW will indeed drive better, and 200k+ is easy; just make sure it's had the cooling system serviced. Also be wary of '99-01 cars, they had some serious issues with rear subframes tearing out of the floorpan, and the recall ended a few years ago. The Saab would probably be more comfortable and return better gas mileage, as well as being much easier to make crazy fast in a straight line. It's really worth driving both.

FWIW I have had gaggles of both Saabs and BMWs, so I have no horse in this race.

asoduk
asoduk New Reader
1/17/13 8:32 p.m.

To get a good idea of Saab ownership, check out saabcentral.com and software called T7suite. You'll find a very knowledgeable community and quite a few DIY people that would fit in really well on the GRM boards.

mtn
mtn PowerDork
1/17/13 9:22 p.m.
SlickDizzy wrote: FWIW I have had gaggles of both Saabs and BMWs, so I have no horse in this race.

I miss all of the cars that have come and gone, and I miss the SAAB the most. Dad still has the E30 vert.

I should have no horse in this race, but I'd still be putting money on the BMW.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy UberDork
1/17/13 9:30 p.m.
mtn wrote: I should have no horse in this race, but I'd still be putting money on the BMW.

At 6'3" and 185, to me, the driving position is WORLDS different, enough to choose on. Depending on your stature, that may not be the case; but in my experience, the Saab is very upright and utilitarian, whereas the BMW is a very legs-forward, "in not on" sort of affair. Neither is "uncomfortable" but they are definitely different. Chances are if you hate one you'll love the other, that's for sure.

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