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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey gents, I've noticed that my suspension is due for an update and I've got a few things I'd like to find out about before dumping a pile of cash into the project. I'm not looking to make my 9-3 into an Autocrosser, race machine, show pony, or a drag racer. Just a bit better in handling so it's more satisfying in the backroads.
Please sound off if the products I've picked out would be satisfactory, or if you have any recommendations. Right now, Genuine Saab has some great stuff for fair prices.

Goals:
> Slightly firmer suspension with a bit faster rebound rate and a possible mild lowering by less than an inch. I don't want to have to mess with the geometry, nor do I want to scrape on the pothole-ridden streets of Charlotte. I also don't want a back-breaking race-styled setup that would make long trips intolerable.
> Firmer chassis. This probably means braces or new anti-roll bars. Really, I just want to pitch it into corners with more confidence.
> Eliminate squeaking. I don't know if you guys have observed it, but my car creaks and squeaks under suspension load. Used to just happen when it was cold, but now it's frequent and annoying. I reckon this could be bushings, though more likely ancient springs.

Products:
> Koni/Vogtland Sport Suspension kit (has no reviews specific to the 99-02s, but is similar to this kit for 94-98.) $768.15
> Hatchback Brace $120

There's a few other things I'd like to do with the car, but please let me know if you'd add anything or see something better. I'm looking to get it all ordered and installed soon, preferably all at once followed by an alignment.

Thanks again, folks.
 

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I'll add some things you didn't mention:

-22mm rear anti roll bar makes a big difference
-Steering rack clamp
-Six point subframe brace
-Poly urethane bushings on the control arms and new stanchion arms if you're car has a lot of miles
-Bilstein HD/sport with viggen/stock springs or lowering springs (ebiach has the highest spring rate iirc)
-4 wheel alignment dialing in the correct camber.

I drive on pretty bad roads and need the ground clearance. I ride on the stock springs with Bilstein HDs so I can't comment on the other spring options out there but they are pretty good while being able to ride over bumpy roads with authority.

Is it going to pull 1 g on a skid pad?
No, but with good tires you'll probably be satisfied driving on most back roads. I find the handling better than some modern cars, though it's obvious the chassis is not as rigid.
 

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If your squeaks are coming from the back end of the car, I strongly recommend the hatch brace.

This is what I've done to my 02 9-3 SE 5-sp manual. I wanted to keep my suspension ride stock as I drive it in the winter and we have bad roads here:
GS rear sway bar,
GS poly transmission mount,
GS steering rack brace,
GS hatch brace,
GS strut tower brace.

When my front suspension needed a rebuild, I used GS poly-reinforced strut mounts, control arms with rubber bushings, stanchion arms with rubber bushings, and Sachs strut inserts. Also upgraded to GS poly front sway bar bushings.

For braking, I upgraded to the bigger 9-5 rear vented brake rotors and calipers, and installed braided brake lines.

I also installed the GS braided clutch hose to improve the clutch pedal feel.
 

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I am running the stock viggen springs and strut inserts/shocks along with the following products from GS:
22mm Rear ARB
Front Strut Tower Brace

The viggen springs give the car a small drop while still retaining all important ground clearance for the bumpy roads. The rear ARB helps flatten the car out and make the handling a little more neutral, but I found the strut tower brace to be the biggest improvement in road feel. I've only heard great things about the steering rack brace and subframe brace.

I had the poly bushings in the control arms but found the ride a tad harsh and due to the beating they took from the potholes, they wore out much quicker than I was expecting. I have since moved back to rubber bushings and found that fresh rubber bushings provide almost equal handling response while being less abusive to your rear end.

Aesthetically, moving from 16x6.5 wheels to 17x7s combined with the slight drop from the viggen springs fills out the wheel wells very nicely, at the penalty of slight harshness from the shorter sidewalls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Guys, thanks a ton for the prompt and knowledgable responses. I super appreciate it!

I don't know if it would help in planning, but my car is riding up on 179k miles, and while everything is in remarkable shape, I'll definitely consider looking for new bushings. Additionally, I recently bought a spectacular set of BF Goodrich Sport Comp-2 tires in the stock 16x6.5" size. They're brilliant, and although I'd like to improve my unsprung weight with fancy lighter, bigger rims, I think I'll stick to stock for the time being. Also, I kinda sunk a bunch of money into the tires, so I'll be riding on those for a while.

Braking, to me, is acceptable on the stock set, but the next brake job I do, I'll consider upgrading to the Viggen set.

I think I'll start out with the Abbott Racing springs (cheers, arens6!), unless I can find a good deal on a Viggen set. I'll look into good shocks and dampers as well.

I think I'll add a front anti-roll bar to the list for now, and later on I might add the 6-point subframe brace, steering rack clamp, and the rear anti-roll bar. I'll do some more research to determine if the polyurethane or rubber bushings would be preferable.
Right now the immediate goals are mitigating body roll, improving ride quality, better cornering performance, and less noise under load. Maybe later I'll try to make her a bit less civilized in the exhaust, though that won't be for a while.

Happy wrenching, gents.
 

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Guys, thanks a ton for the prompt and knowledgable responses. I super appreciate it!

I don't know if it would help in planning, but my car is riding up on 179k miles, and while everything is in remarkable shape, I'll definitely consider looking for new bushings. Additionally, I recently bought a spectacular set of BF Goodrich Sport Comp-2 tires in the stock 16x6.5" size. They're brilliant, and although I'd like to improve my unsprung weight with fancy lighter, bigger rims, I think I'll stick to stock for the time being. Also, I kinda sunk a bunch of money into the tires, so I'll be riding on those for a while.

Braking, to me, is acceptable on the stock set, but the next brake job I do, I'll consider upgrading to the Viggen set.

I think I'll start out with the Abbott Racing springs (cheers, arens6!), unless I can find a good deal on a Viggen set. I'll look into good shocks and dampers as well.

I think I'll add a front anti-roll bar to the list for now, and later on I might add the 6-point subframe brace, steering rack clamp, and the rear anti-roll bar. I'll do some more research to determine if the polyurethane or rubber bushings would be preferable.
Right now the immediate goals are mitigating body roll, improving ride quality, better cornering performance, and less noise under load. Maybe later I'll try to make her a bit less civilized in the exhaust, though that won't be for a while.

Happy wrenching, gents.
FYI - Larger wheels and tires increase unsprung weight unless you buy something very expensive in wheels.

If you want a "comfy" ride but improved handling, keep the stock spring and put in Koni's. If you want a jump in handling buy Eibach or perhaps Abbott springs and put in the Konis or 'steins. You should not run upgraded springs without upgraded shocks.

Don't touch the front sway bar, there's no upgrade. DO replace the rear bar with the 22mm GS bar.

The subframe brace is a good idea, but if I had a hatch I'd be thinking of the GS rear brace.

As an alternative to the overpriced steering rack brace, you can get a poly bushing from Powerflex USA. Big improvement for a lot less money.


A car with stock springs, Koni's, rear bar, maybe a brace is very civilized. Adding lowering springs is a big leap in handling but with a degrading of ride quality over short, fast bumps and occasional bump stop strikes over severe bumps.
 

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You should be able to find a set of used viggen springs for significantly cheaper than the abbotts.

Agreed with Bob, if reducing body roll is one of your immediate goals the rear sway bar is a must. I really can't stress how good the front strut brace is, I'd do that next.
 

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IMO, the sweet spot for tire/wheel sizes for this chassis is 16", especially if you live in an area with bad roads. With bigger wheels, I think the chassis tends to get crashy. That said, I believe there's also a case to be made for minimizing for unsprung weight. I have 17" BBS RK1's, one of the lightest rims from the factory, with some nsoft sticky summer tires (Hankook V12) on my 9-5 Aero, and this car has a surprisingly nice ride on bad city roads around here. IMO, the RK1's look quite nice on Viggen, so if you need to go 17", maybe be on the lookout for a set of used RK1's.

One word of warning about the hatch braces: you will lose cargo carrying capacity when the rear seats folded down with it installed since it severely reduces the size of the opening between the hatch area and the passenger compartment. I have the removeable version, bought it off a guy who'd tried it but found that removing it constantly to load his bikes in the back was still quite a hassle. Fortunately for me, my bikes belong on top of my car :)

IMO, it was a shame Saab didn't let GS factory-tune the Viggen instead. The GS bigger rear sway bar is how every OG9-3 should have been coming off the assembly line. Not only does it reduce body roll but it also eliminates the feeling that the back of your car feels like a detached trailer that you're towing down the highway. IMO, it's been the biggest bang for your buck improvement I've come across.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
On a related note, how much do the stock (16x6.5) rims weigh? I've got the 5-spoke configuration, if that makes any difference. I'm in no hurry to swap rims because I kinda like how they look and they are mercifully free of curb rash. In the event that I'm looking for new, lightweight rims, they'll be 16" and probably Motegi or BBS or one of those other tasteful but lightweight aftermarket rims.

Okay, so here's my updated shopping list which I'm going to pull the trigger on pretty soon:
>Rear Anti-Roll Bar (GS, $90). There's two different configurations, one that's 7/8 (22mm) or a cheaper one at 3/4 (19mm). I'm going with the beefier one. I also saw that the Steering Rack Brace can include the Rear ARB and the 6-Point Subframe Brace for a discount. I'll probably do those later if it needs improvement.
Considered going with a GS Front Strut Brace. I'm going to see how she feels with new springs and shocks first. I may do the Rear Hatch Brace later but I don't like the reduced storage space as a result. After all, I do enjoy putting a bunch of crap back there and I'd like to keep the fold-down seats usable.
>Poly Bushings kit (GS, $118). I might still go with the rubber ones if I can find a good deal. Control arms still look good, though in the future I'll definitely keep an eye on them.
>Abbott Racing Springs, set of 4 ($310). These look pretty sweet and they won't misbehave like the Vogtlands have a tendency to.
>Koni Dampers/Shocks, set of 4 (GS, $558). Available for a bit cheaper than Abbott's site, a full set would be very rad indeed. My car's shock towers look pretty healthy, so they won't need replacement immediately.
>Stickers from Abbott Racing and Genuine Saab ($10). +5HP each!

I'm still looking around for a reputable set of Viggen suspension parts, though these bits would do nicely, too. If you guys happen to find one, do me a favor and drop a link. Also, I hope Abbott can ship to the US pretty quickly. I would hate for Customs to do something stupid with my order. Also, ya know, more wait leads to less fun.
Thanks, dudes.
 
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