General Motors’ top strategy during its
mismanagement of Saab was parlaying the company’s jet history into a vague aeronautic brand association. It doesn’t add up: a logo that features a mythical winged beast (not showing its wings), and a home country with an air force 1.5% the size of America’s (according to Global Firepower, a website that feels the way an army surplus store smells). This is especially true for the Viggen, so named for Saab’s 37 Viggen “Thunderbolt” fighter jet. But whether it’s named after a thunderbolt or a deadbolt, the 9-3 Viggen came with an upgraded engine and suspension and was one of the dearly departed company’s most special offerings. Find this 2001 Saab 9-3 Viggen for sale in Yarmouth, ME for $5,000 via craigslist.
This is actually a great time to be in the market for a 9-3 Viggen five-door. With three posted to craigslist in as many days, it’s a Scandinavian smorgasbord of snail-fed sedans. Take your pick:
A slightly modified 90k-mile red one in Florida for $12,500. Good luck with that.
A 317k-mile (yeesh) gray one with rebuilt motor in New Hampshire for $3,500.
And, of course, this one. It has exactly one spot of rust, 112,000 miles, and a rebuilt title after an accident that reportedly caused no frame or engine damage. Ask for pictures.
At 20 psi, 230 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque are merely instruments for teaching your junior Mavericks in the backseat what torque steer is. Saab’s clever Trionic 7 engine management system withholds maximum torque sequentially in the first two gears, but it just isn’t enough to quell that much twist. Zero to 60 happens in about six seconds thanks to all that power and a 3,100-pound curb weight.
If it is indeed an overgrown torque-steering hot hatch, it’s a lovable one. Even under ownership by the star-spangled General, this 21st-century Saab retained its front-drive turbo funk, but in a more user-friendly way. A tall 0.66:1 fifth gear and 4.05:1 final drive ratio should keep you out of high boost levels on the highway, where you’ll see fuel efficiency in the mid to upper 20s. Coupled with a 17-gallon tank, heated leather seats, and reworked body pieces for high-speed (as in 160 mph) stability, this Viggen is starting to look like a good way to cross the country. It sure is easier than flying.
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