More than 200hp, less than £1k, and a manual gearbox – it's the Swedish Shed jackpot!
By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, January 14, 2022 / Loading comments
Fresh from their domination of the 2021 Shed of the Year awards, the Scandis are getting in early for 2022 with this doughty looking Saab 9-3 Aero HOT. HOT doesn’t mean hot, by the way. Well, it does, obviously, but when it’s a Saab acronym it stands for High Output Turbo. In the 9-3 that means 0-60mph times in the high sixes; respectable performance for a five-door, five-seat hatch in 2022, let alone 2000 when this car was built.
On that subject, sort of, we had one of these back in September. To be strictly accurate, it wasn’t one of these, it was a 2004 gen-two on the GM Epsilon platform, which means it could just as easily have been built in Austria or China as in Sweden. Today’s 9-3 is a gen-one car from 2000. The difference there is that, although it’s still on a GM platform – the 2900 – it must have been built in either Sweden or Finland. According to Shed, anyway.
Let’s imagine that, just for once, he’s right there. Does pure Scandinavian lineage make this older car ‘better’ than the later one? Does Scandiness fully compensate for extra age? There’ll doubtless be some views about that on the forum. All Shed is saying is that this gen-one car has quite an advantage over the other one in terms of mileage. It’s done 100,000 fewer of them than the ’04 car.
These two Saabs do have one thing in common, namely single ownership (or as near as makes no difference) from showroom to Shed. That tells you something about Saabs. Get a good ‘un and, with the right attitude towards disposability, you can be a happy bunny for a very long time.
This could be a good ‘un. If it is, then Shed reckons it’s well priced. In the course of his normal exhaustive research for this story (23 seconds of Googling on the Amstrad) he found another gen-one 9-3 Aero HOT for sale, an 85,000-mile 2001 car on a classics website going for £3,495, suggesting that £850 for our 92,000-miler is on the cheap side of reasonable – if it’s a good ‘un.
But what could make it a bad ‘un? Shed won’t insult your intelligence by talking about the Direct Ignition Cassette for the umpteenth time. What else? This 9-3’s engine management light has been going on and off for the last three years, which is a testament to the bulb if not the EML sensor. The EML fault came up as a major defect on the 2018 MOT but hasn’t appeared since.
Oil leaks from the top end and/or the rear main seal will very likely relate to excessive crankcase pressure, solved later in the 9-3’s lifecycle by the factory’s fitment of an updated PCV kit. Idler pulleys for the serpentine belt can break, as can the fuel pump and the shaft for the ‘air blend’ door. If that goes, your ability to control cabin temperature goes with it.
The body carries a few battle scars, as the vendor freely admits, but some might say that these only add to the authenticity. A slightly bashed front number plate was one of the two advisories on last June’s MOT. The other one was for an exhaust blow which was also mentioned in 2020.
Everything else on previous MOTs dating back to 2006 has related to consumables, with no rust or corrosion popping up anywhere. To Shed it looks like the history of a well-made car, which as you can see is photographed in a suitably Scandi-noir Nissen hut. Not a Nissan HOT, because that isn’t a thing. Nor is a hot Aero. Nobody wants one of those in their pocket.
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