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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a max budget of $6000 (for the car it self) and need a fun daily driver that I can count on, reliability is import. I've always liked the look of these cars but I've never driven one, I have heard they are loaded with torque steer. I would be daily driving, bolt ons, suspension work and fun driving. Can someone break down the pros and cons of the Viggen and help me decide whether or not I should get one and if my budget is good enough to find a good one.
 

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Here's my 2 cents....

Saab sold the Viggen to the performance buyer. Sure, some have been treated with kid gloves but not, IMHO, the majority. The car bought by the Grandmother who kept it in the garage during bad weather and so forth would be a real needle in the haystack especially considering how few were made. Now such a Grandma (or Granpa) with a 2001 or 2 SE HOT would be a lot more common, especially in the NorthEast. This car would not be 6 grand and would respond to tuning almost as nicely as the Viggen. Keep your eyes open for that creampuff of creampuffs with Service records from new and I think you will be better off.

Good luck,

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Saab sold the Viggen to the performance buyer. Sure, some have been treated with kid gloves but not, IMHO, the majority. The car bought by the Grandmother who kept it in the garage during bad weather and so forth would be a real needle in the haystack especially considering how few were made. Now such a Grandma (or Granpa) with a 2001 or 2 SE HOT would be a lot more common, especially in the NorthEast. This car would not be 6 grand and would respond to tuning almost as nicely as the Viggen. Keep your eyes open for that creampuff of creampuffs with Service records from new and I think you will be better off.

Good luck,

John
So you're saying a nicely treated Viggen is not common... Understandable. Other than that what about the rest? Trouble spots? Braking? Handling? Costs? Performance numbers with bolt ons etc?
 

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It doesnt matter how good a Viggen is or can be made. Its just brings a stupid smile to your face to drive one. Go hunt for a decent one and be prepared to put some money into it. I bought mine three years ago for $5500 and have been working on upkeep and repair ever since. Thats not to say its been unreliable. For an old car that has been abused most of its life I cant complain. But its getting up there in miles and things are starting to wear out.
 

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I think there's some legitimacy in what widduck1 says as well as what watkins says.

You can make any 9-3 perform as well as any factory Viggen... and you can have the fun of tuning it the way you want. Viggens do tend to be driven harder in their lifetimes, but you can find some that were treated better. But, given the choice, I would also lean towards a late '02 or '03 HOT that you tweak up to what you want.

The Viggen differences are the motor (2.3L, 230HP stock (9-5 motor) vs. 2.0L 210HP stock for the HOT); Viggen clutch; Viggen side skirts and front/rear bumper-spoilers; upgraded (9-5) brakes; upgraded suspension with stiffer springs - slightly lower - and stiffer shocks; 17" wheels; Viggen seats; and Two-tone interior with CF dash and perforated steering wheel. Other than that, it's a 9-3.

Taking an SE HOT, you can easily tweak the motor up to as much HP as you reasonably want. The clutch might need replacement if you go large. Most guys around here who want performance install lowering springs that go a bit lower than the Viggen springs and Koni or Bilstein shocks - Viggen guys included - along with other suspension mods like a bigger rear bar, rack modification. You can do the brake upgrade if you think you need it... these cars stop fairly well so unless you are looking to race, the current brakes are probably fine. Wheels can be changed (and many Viggens are bent at this point so they may need replacement); Tires are a gimme and we all like to pick our own. Some guys like poly bushings in the suspension... that goes for Viggen and non-Viggen guys. Note that any car with 75-100K miles, which is most of these cars, will need shocks anyways so that's really a maintenance job instead of an upgrade.

Viggen seats are very, very nice, as are the body kits. Those are hard to find items for an upgrade. If you're into a convertible, you can buy an '03 convertible with the Sport package and get the Viggen exterior and interior without the two tone or CF as well as 17" double-Y wheels (a favorite). Underneath it's a 9-3 HOT so you need to do the suspension work yourself.

The Viggen will cost more, which will leave less for the tuning budget, but there's less to do. One key thing to know about Viggens is that there are some parts that are Viggen only which are a bit harder to find when they break. Not many, but some. 9-3's are very plentiful and parts are fairly easy now.

So, if you want the complete package, want the body work without a 'vert, and want it in a factory package, then look for a low miles Viggen with a couple caring owners. If you like to do the tuning yourself, don't mind some learning, save some budget money, and can spin a wrench with a little skill, buy a 9-3SE HOT and have some fun with that.

FYI - once you do the suspension up (springs, shocks, bar) and add a rack brace or poly bushing for the rack the torque steer will be minimal. You can still break a wheel loose at speed if you hit the loads right (or wrong) on a slick road and it's a little more surprising that breaking a rear wheel free on a RWD car, but it's not really an issue. You also probably need to learn how to pull out of a parking lot across traffic quickly with a turbo without spinning a wheel , but that's just technique too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think there's some legitimacy in what widduck1 says as well as what watkins says.

You can make any 9-3 perform as well as any factory Viggen... and you can have the fun of tuning it the way you want. Viggens do tend to be driven harder in their lifetimes, but you can find some that were treated better. But, given the choice, I would also lean towards a late '02 or '03 HOT that you tweak up to what you want.

The Viggen differences are the motor (2.3L, 230HP stock (9-5 motor) vs. 2.0L 210HP stock for the HOT); Viggen clutch; Viggen side skirts and front/rear bumper-spoilers; upgraded (9-5) brakes; upgraded suspension with stiffer springs - slightly lower - and stiffer shocks; 17" wheels; Viggen seats; and Two-tone interior with CF dash and perforated steering wheel. Other than that, it's a 9-3.

Taking an SE HOT, you can easily tweak the motor up to as much HP as you reasonably want. The clutch might need replacement if you go large. Most guys around here who want performance install lowering springs that go a bit lower than the Viggen springs and Koni or Bilstein shocks - Viggen guys included - along with other suspension mods like a bigger rear bar, rack modification. You can do the brake upgrade if you think you need it... these cars stop fairly well so unless you are looking to race, the current brakes are probably fine. Wheels can be changed (and many Viggens are bent at this point so they may need replacement); Tires are a gimme and we all like to pick our own. Some guys like poly bushings in the suspension... that goes for Viggen and non-Viggen guys. Note that any car with 75-100K miles, which is most of these cars, will need shocks anyways so that's really a maintenance job instead of an upgrade.

Viggen seats are very, very nice, as are the body kits. Those are hard to find items for an upgrade. If you're into a convertible, you can buy an '03 convertible with the Sport package and get the Viggen exterior and interior without the two tone or CF as well as 17" double-Y wheels (a favorite). Underneath it's a 9-3 HOT so you need to do the suspension work yourself.

The Viggen will cost more, which will leave less for the tuning budget, but there's less to do. One key thing to know about Viggens is that there are some parts that are Viggen only which are a bit harder to find when they break. Not many, but some. 9-3's are very plentiful and parts are fairly easy now.

So, if you want the complete package, want the body work without a 'vert, and want it in a factory package, then look for a low miles Viggen with a couple caring owners. If you like to do the tuning yourself, don't mind some learning, save some budget money, and can spin a wrench with a little skill, buy a 9-3SE HOT and have some fun with that.

FYI - once you do the suspension up (springs, shocks, bar) and add a rack brace or poly bushing for the rack the torque steer will be minimal. You can still break a wheel loose at speed if you hit the loads right (or wrong) on a slick road and it's a little more surprising that breaking a rear wheel free on a RWD car, but it's not really an issue. You also probably need to learn how to pull out of a parking lot across traffic quickly with a turbo without spinning a wheel , but that's just technique too.
Ok so I have gathered that essentially a 9-3 can be as good if not better than a Viggen, check. What about a 9-5? Always liked the look of those but one huge part of this topic that has not been discussed is reliability, trouble spots and what to make sure has been done to avoid a problem car. I need this thing to start and run well to get me to work and school that's most important, the fun stuff comes second.
 

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While theoreticaly you can tweak the B205R ( Aero / SE) engine up to B235R (Viggen) power levels in practice you won't get the torque 'grunt' you get with the latter which is what sets it apart. This torque is also the problem as to keep it under control you need to throw a lot of money at upgrades to suspension and steering. In the end though all these cars are now pretty old so you really want to be focusing your purchase decisions on the cars condition vs price rather than it's orginal spec. Also with that kind of money I'd get a 9-5 Aero which has a chassis that can actualy handle the power;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
While theoreticaly you can tweak the B205R ( Aero / SE) engine up to B235R (Viggen) power levels in practice you won't get the torque 'grunt' you get with the latter which is what sets it apart. This torque is also the problem as to keep it under control you need to throw a lot of money at upgrades to suspension and steering. In the end though all these cars are now pretty old so you really want to be focusing your purchase decisions on the cars condition vs price rather than it's orginal spec. Also with that kind of money I'd get a 9-5 Aero which has a chassis that can actualy handle the power;)
How about reliability and maintenance issues and concerns? Which is the best? Also how good is the 9-5 Aero? Handling braking and reliability? No one has touched on which car I can count on for a daily with no headaches or crazy maintenance and repair costs.
 

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B205R and B235R are the same engine but with a 300cc capacity difference - reliability and maintenance issues are identical. Only minor differences exist between a viggen and 9-3 SE/ Aero and from a maintenance and reliability viewpoint they are identical. The 9-5 is a much superior car in every way - it handles the power and has better road holding/handling. A stock 9-3 needs mods to make it handle acceptably and it still feels crude - a 9-5 handles very well in stock form and can take more power in it's stride.
 

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B205R and B235R are the same engine but with a 300cc capacity difference - reliability and maintenance issues are identical. Only minor differences exist between a viggen and 9-3 SE/ Aero and from a maintenance and reliability viewpoint they are identical. The 9-5 is a much superior car in every way - it handles the power and has better road holding/handling. A stock 9-3 needs mods to make it handle acceptably and it still feels crude - a 9-5 handles very well in stock form and can take more power in it's stride.
9-5 is superior in handling since the rear suspension is actually independent, but I don't know that I'd say "superior in every way". A 9-3 handles very nicely once modified... still not properly independent rear, but nicely unless you're actually racing.

9-5 loses big on looks inside and out. If you get one "fully dressed" it's not bad, but you're still driving a four door sedan of the el blando variety. MHO. Much as I love Saabs, I'd seriously consider a lot of other cars if I wanted a 4 door el blando sedan.
 

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Be aware that the Viggen transmission is not the same as 2.0L 5-speed transmission. It's differential is set up to essentially use stronger (but shorter) 9-5 axles. So, down the road if you blow the transmission, you just can't swap in an SE 5-speed because the axles won't fit... Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thats is what I'm scared of "blowing a transmission"... I don't want to have to worry about that. I do in fact like the look of the 9-5 however.
 

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I have a 2000 Viggen...
LOVE it... the torque delivery is AMAZING.. the torque steer is not too bad unless you're a 90yr old woman...

Why I bought it instead of a 9-3HOT
-nothing else looks like a Vig.
-it's rare.. plain and simple
-even a modded HOT doesn't pull like a Vig.
-the interior is GREAT... love the "delta" seats
-FYI they don't all have a carbon fiber dash.. in fact most don't... but it's not the fake wood either...
-with no mods or tuning it was made to drive fast.... and it shows...

Things that break:
-I have read a lot of stuff... never seen anything that is "Viggen specific" that breaks often.. 99% of the parts are interchangeable...
-I bought mine for $6k and have put $1k or so into repairs.. mostly maintainence stuff has 127k miles so... any car starts to need suff..

If you want something unique and don't mind working on your car every once in a while... I'd say go for it!!.. more fun to drive than a NEW Mazdaspeed 3!!
 

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I've had my Viggen for 10 years and 140K miles, so I've had some time to think about this. I'd say the pros are that it's kind of raw, visceral, and cool among Saab nuts. The cons are that it's raw, visceral, and most people don't know or care what it is.

It also has all the same pros and cons of any OG 9-3. Meaning, it's fuel efficient, safe, practical, has lots of room, and has nice but not epic handling with mods. Maintenance isn't crazy, it's good looking, and it works really well as a daily driver. The biggest con for me is probably the flexy chassis. It's based on what was a mediocre Opel chassis in 1994. A new GTI has 3-4x the torsional rigidity of a Viggen, and you don't just fix that with a 6 point subframe brace.

Bottom line, if you are making columns with pros and cons then the Viggen probably isn't for you. It tends to be more of an emotional buy. It was kind of half baked when it came out a decade ago, and just going by the numbers it's really outdated now. You have to be careful at stoplights not to get smoked by a mom with 2 kids in a v6 Altima....

But despite all that, I still love driving mine and have no intentions of selling it. Someone on here once said he bought his Viggen because he preferred flawed over boring. I think that sums it up pretty well.
 

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Other saabs may have certain idiosyncratic areas but none have the deep flaw that the NG900 / 9-3 has with it's chassis.
 

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Other saabs may have certain idiosyncratic areas but none have the deep flaw that the NG900 / 9-3 has with it's chassis.
Let's be honest... it's not THAT bad... I can't say that the chassis bothers me at all... maybe if you want to track it.. but I drive pretty aggressively and very rarely can I say I've had a complaint...

you guys make it sound like I'm driving an car with a rubber slinky for a chassis...lol
 

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Be aware that the Viggen transmission is not the same as 2.0L 5-speed transmission. It's differential is set up to essentially use stronger (but shorter) 9-5 axles. So, down the road if you blow the transmission, you just can't swap in an SE 5-speed because the axles won't fit... Ron
Not sure on that one. The 9-3 se Convertable I thinking of buying has a Viggen 2.3 Motor. It use to have a 2.0 lt motor. I don't think the mechanic change the Transmission. But I am not 100% sure.
 
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