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  #1  
Old 8th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Default World First: Project Death Star

So a few of you have been privy to the project I have been undergoing with my 1994 Aero for the past several months. I've been trying to keep it relatively hush-hush until I felt I had made enough progress to share with you all. Basically, I decided to finally jump into redoing the suspension, in a way I have not found evidence of anyone else in the world doing on a Saab 9000.

The journey started after my tax refund arrived and I began hoarding a few bits and pieces in my campus apartment closet. This was just the beginning:

The tank, Accuair Exo mount, EAI switch controller, and SMC valves I bought used from a gentleman on another forum, and had originally been installed in a Scion XB.

The struts are a kit from Air Lift, consisting of a double-bellows bag over long-stroke adjustable damping shocks. The kit comes with a variety of hardware which allows it to adapt to any style of strut. In order to match the McPherson strut arrangement on the front of the Aero, I measured out how long I wanted the assembly to be in order to give me the desired ride height, as well as at full up and full down. At that point, I took it to my dad, who was able to weld the strut body as well as the two mounting tabs on each side:




At that point, I began installing the management system in the hatch area. I liked the idea of a nice, clean look, and wanted to retain as much usable trunk space as possible. I ended up using c-brackets to suspend the valve assemblies and switch box from the bottom of the false floor:

This arrangement still allows full use of the spare tire, and also keeps most of the wiring and plumbing hidden. I mounted the tank, Viair 400c compressor, and water trap on the forward part of the floor, again leaving plenty of usable space.


I originally bought double-bellows bags for the rear as well, but soon realized the spring locations did not provide enough space for them to function. At that point, I went over to Bag Riders where they recommended I try their new Firestone 7076 inverted-sleeve bags. While not quite as robust as the Air Lift Dominators I had originally planned on, now that they are installed, they are absolutely perfect for the job. I had to create a custom top mount that would bolt to the bag and prevent it from slipping from the top spring perch. A friend of mine has access to a 3d printer, and I was able to send him a CAD model of what I needed. A few days later, he handed me this:



Somewhere in here, I had bought new wheels, a set of vintage gold/polished ARE 398s, 17x9.5 et 56, off of an old Corvette.

I had high hopes for fitting these blingin' beauts, but decided I would need to run some insane stretch & poke, which is not quite the look I want to go for. So they are now on their way out the door to fund something else.
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  #2  
Old 8th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Once I got the management running properly, it was time to run the air lines and install the struts/bags. I ran two lines from the tank, through holes in the false floor and into the spare tire well, where each of them fed one bank of valves. Each corner of the car has one pair of valves, one for fill and one for dump. They are all triggered by the switchbox that I ran under the carpeting into the center console, where it will be molded into a panel alongside the two dual-needle gauges.

The lines from each pair of valves then passes through holes in the front of the spare tire well (with grommets to prevent chafing) and outward to the flanks. Two lines go straight along the axle to the rear bags, while the other two run inside the side skirts all the way into the front wheel well, where they adapt to the braided leader lines into the strut bags.

Took some preliminary shots right after the front struts were installed:

We were running out of light, so we took the springs out of the rear just to see how low it could go:

but that didn't really work because we couldn't pull the jack out, so it was still holding up the car a fair amount.

Eventually we got a few things tweaked and were able to install the rear bags and get some legit shots of how it sits aired out:


Clearance at the front subframe (about 1.5", should be able to get another inch out of it with different wheels/tires):

And rear clearance (still plenty of room for more ;D ) :


And that's about where it sits right now. I'd like to note all of this was done with borrowed tools and plenty of help from various friends, in my gravel driveway.

I still have a bit of a list of stuff I need to do before I can call my project done, such as:
-Fix front camber (camber bolts and then machining custom pillow-ball top mounts with camber adjustment)
-Mount gauges and switchbox in center console
-Fix leaks / switch from teflon tape on all the fittings to Loctite 565 thread sealer
-Custom copper hardlines between tank and valve manifolds
-And of course wheels and tires

Thanks for bearing with my rambling. I know this project won't fit everyone's taste, but I've had an absolute blast through the whole process, and I definitely think I've managed to explore a genre of modification not everyone in the Saab crowd is willing to tackle. Special thanks to those who have given any and all support. I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Cheers!
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  #3  
Old 8th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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By means of an update, I just replaced all four front strut/knuckle bolts with J-Power camber bolts from eBay. Took me less than two hours, including a run to Lowe's to pick up a replacement nut because one stripped. They fixed the weird positive camber issue that developed, and even got me an extra 1/4" lower than I had been. Balloon tires are still holding me up, but that will be fixed shortly.
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  #4  
Old 12th July 2012
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I can't believe that no one else has commented on this awesome project.
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  #5  
Old 12th July 2012
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It is a real project, well done. Nice to see some pioneering work out there.

Cool that you can pump it up and drop it real fast. for hanging out or parked super low will look cool.

Can it actually drive on roads that low though? I'd expect you will pop the crankcase pan on any sort of bump or obstacle, and the life expectancy of things like ball joints and CV joints might be very brief. Be interesting to hear how it handles at different heights.

I'm building a full on track 9k mega lightened, full f/r to strut mounts welded roll cage, and I'm not lowering anywhere near that as it won't help me get around a track fast.
Approx 1" from OEM Aero is as low as I'll be, but this will be influenced mostly by getting the weight balanced and how it works in practice.

Have fun with your air bag ride, let us know how it cruises.
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  #6  
Old 12th July 2012
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KevinC KevinC is offline
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On the wheels, they look great, 17 x 8 can be made to work, but 17 x 9 would be only possible on the rear, and then with a fair bit of body work.
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  #7  
Old 12th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinC View Post
It is a real project, well done. Nice to see some pioneering work out there.

Cool that you can pump it up and drop it real fast. for hanging out or parked super low will look cool.

Can it actually drive on roads that low though? I'd expect you will pop the crankcase pan on any sort of bump or obstacle, and the life expectancy of things like ball joints and CV joints might be very brief. Be interesting to hear how it handles at different heights.

I'm building a full on track 9k mega lightened, full f/r to strut mounts welded roll cage, and I'm not lowering anywhere near that as it won't help me get around a track fast.
Approx 1" from OEM Aero is as low as I'll be, but this will be influenced mostly by getting the weight balanced and how it works in practice.

Have fun with your air bag ride, let us know how it cruises.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinC View Post
On the wheels, they look great, 17 x 8 can be made to work, but 17 x 9 would be only possible on the rear, and then with a fair bit of body work.
I don't intend to drive it this low, especially since the tires are currently in full contact with the fender arches, and I don't want to wear heavily on the mentioned CV axles and tie rods and such. As far as cracking oil pans, the 9k is actually pretty nice in this regard, as both the exhaust and subframe are lower than the pan, so they would take the brunt of any blow that would take out any other car. Mostly though, I just like how it looks laid out when parked. My standard ride height (between 60-80psi in the bags) puts me right around 1 or 2" lower than stock Aero height.

As for the ARE wheels, they are being sold. I haven't yet decided what to get as replacements, but I agree, it was going to be too much work to fit them. Thanks for the input!

And here are a couple of unedited teasers from a set I took today. More to come when I have a few free minutes to edit!



Last edited by Svenska94Aero; 12th July 2012 at 09:18 PM.
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  #8  
Old 15th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Went and parked in a big field outside a car show yesterday. I didn't feel the car was ready to actually participate. Still, my brother and I snapped a couple more photos.
My crappy one:

My brother Elisha's (not bad considering he took them with a point'n'shoot:

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  #9  
Old 16th July 2012
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[QUOTE=Svenska94Aero;2225105]


God, that has got to be one of the rattiest aeros I have ever seen! But that stance looks AMAZING. Wanna do my 900??
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  #10  
Old 18th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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[quote=garrykf900;2226001]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Svenska94Aero View Post
God, that has got to be one of the rattiest aeros I have ever seen! But that stance looks AMAZING. Wanna do my 900??
haha I know, I'm really trying to polish it up, but I wanted to get the mechanicals done first. Thanks for the props though!
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  #11  
Old 20th July 2012
kuponut kuponut is offline
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  #12  
Old 21st July 2012
D.M D.M is offline
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wow how is handling with those?
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  #13  
Old 21st July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D.M View Post
wow how is handling with those?
I've actually been really impressed so far. I have the damping turned all the way up on the front struts, and I find it just about perfect right around 65psi in the front bags. This gives me a firm enough ride for my daily commute without being harsh and bumpy, and I can still throw it into a corner. If I push it up to 80 psi, it feels very firm, and handles incredibly tight, quite similar to coilovers, at the expense of being fairly harsh over bumpy pavement. Rear bags I typically keep right around 80-90psi. I haven't taken it on the highway yet to be able to drop it lower and see how the ride is at around 40psi, but I will post updates once I do.

Since I have each bag valved individually, I don't have any cross-flow between bags in cornering, so its body roll is only similar to stock. I will most likely upgrade the swaybars at some point in the near future to help that even more.
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  #14  
Old 22nd July 2012
VT9000CSE VT9000CSE is offline
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When you want to tune that 9000 ECU, let me know, I'm doing it for free to local VT Saabnuts and you sir, are a Saabnut! I'm in Waterbury, VT.

Some of those shots look like they could be Snowfire, South Burlington on 189 that will never be built and perhaps the Stowe car show. Hmmmm?
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  #15  
Old 22nd July 2012
romoguy88 romoguy88 is offline
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  #16  
Old 25th July 2012
VT9000CSE VT9000CSE is offline
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Looks like some of the pics are at Snowfire in Waterbury, 189 in South Burlington, and the Stowe car show.

I'm in Duxbury with my black 9000 CSE. CA plates.
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  #17  
Old 25th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VT9000CSE View Post
Looks like some of the pics are at Snowfire in Waterbury, 189 in South Burlington, and the Stowe car show.

I'm in Duxbury with my black 9000 CSE. CA plates.
Right about the old 189 access! I live on Hayward St, just a short ways down Pine from the access. Unfortunately, neither of the other guesses are true xD The fabrication was done in Bethel at Vermont Castings, where my dad works as a welder. The photos in the field were actually outside of the RAVE car show at the Rutland fairgrounds.

I have a couple of friends who work at Snowfire though, good little shop. Hope to see you around!
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  #18  
Old 25th July 2012
VT9000CSE VT9000CSE is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Svenska94Aero View Post
Right about the old 189 access! I live on Hayward St, just a short ways down Pine from the access. Unfortunately, neither of the other guesses are true xD The fabrication was done in Bethel at Vermont Castings, where my dad works as a welder. The photos in the field were actually outside of the RAVE car show at the Rutland fairgrounds.

I have a couple of friends who work at Snowfire though, good little shop. Hope to see you around!
I am looking at doing tunes for free for VT Saabnuts. You my friend are a Saabnut. I'll keep you posted. I have my services on VT CL under 9000 900 T5 tuning.
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  #19  
Old 25th July 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VT9000CSE View Post
I am looking at doing tunes for free for VT Saabnuts. You my friend are a Saabnut. I'll keep you posted. I have my services on VT CL under 9000 900 T5 tuning.
Ah yep, we were just discussing your CL ad, trying to figure out who it could be. I have a spare ECU tuned to stage 3, but I haven't gotten around to installing a 3" downpipe to be able to run it. I have a couple of things I want to sort out first, but I might hit you up to reflash it to stage 2, so at least I can be running a bit more than stock. Can you do live roadtuning too?
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  #20  
Old 1st August 2012
Svenska94Aero Svenska94Aero is offline
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Another shot my brother took at Wolfsgart this past weekend:

Still working on replacing the hood, and new wheels are on their way within a week or two, but at least I was able to fix the grille!
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