More jobs to do…

Keith Adams

Saab 9000 Aero as it was in 2007

With the Rover 3500 back on terra firma in the UK and in the safe hands of MOTest at Farnham, it looks like I have another project to sort out in the coming months. Back in 2008, I put my Saab 9000 Aero in for a repair which, although complex, should have been done reasonably quickly.

Unfortunately, following a long and horrible story, I’m left – two years down the line – with the car in rather a worse state than it was when I left it and with what looks like a fair bit of work to do on it.

Here’s the original post stating the Saab’s sorry story on the AROnline forum back in January 2010: ‘A couple of years back after forum posts and swapped messages, I decided that I should pass my beloved Saab 9000 Aero on to get some much needed repairs to.

‘But in the end, it looks like I have no car, and if it’s still around, it’s going to be worth little more than scrap. And the bottom line is that it’s really starting to get me down, and I could just do with some practical advice on what to do next…

The back story is straightforward. I gave the car to a member of several forums I go on. He was a local mechanic who worked for a garage in his area, and from the amount of posts he made here, there and everywhere, seemed like a sound bloke who knows his cars, and who’s more than willing to help people whenever he can.

I felt assured enough to leave my Aero with him to do some work on – after all, he worked at a proper garage, and seemed to have lots of satisfied customers. So, I left the car with him early in 2008 with a replacement gearbox in the boot, and asked him to put it in.

Also, it needed a new windscreen, so – again – I asked him to do it.

A few weeks after, he contacts me to say he’s having custody problems with his daughters. I say that’s fine – but if he was struggling, just to let me know and I’d take the car back and pay for work done. He insisted it was fine, and I had no reason to doubt this, so left him to get on with it.

The months passed, and I’d regularly get in touch asking if all was okay… and he’s always say that the car was safe, and it would be done soon. I could see the problems he was having as he’d share them on Facebook, so didn’t give him too much hassle, but constantly reminded him that if he couldn’t do my car, shout me, and I’d take it back off his hands. Then, last summer, he disappeared off Facebook and stopped taking calls.

I contacted the garage he was working at, and the manager said he’d not been working there for at least 18 months, and that as he didn’t know who the Saab belonged to, he had placed it in storage. But that the garage owner also said that he had financial problems at the time and hadn’t paid his storage bills for some time, so had no idea what state my car was in… but now he knew who I was we’d get in regular contact so I could get my car back. Which he reassured me, he’d be able to do.

The garage owner and I did chat a couple more times, but each time he’d not tell me precisely where the car was… but he would call when he got it back. I ascertained that the car was without a screen, under a cover, and stored outdoors. So, a write-off I guess. But now he’s not talking to me, and I’m 200 miles away stuck without a clue what’s going on, and the situation is REALLY getting me down.

Basically, I know in my heart that the car is FUBAR’d. Legally I know I will have to pursue the garage owner if I don’t want to count this as a £4000 write-off, as he made no effort to contact me and legally he should have done this… but if the garage owner is straight and genuinely having problems, I really don’t want to do that.’

My question, then, would be – after seeing these pictures – is there anyone out there who can recommend the services of a good welder who fancies having a crack at that bulkhead panel? Alternatively, should I be more sensible and break the car, keeping all the shiny bits, and find another 9000 to fit them to?

Frankly, I don’t have the energy for another project right now and just looking at these pictures depresses me somewhat. The picture at the top shows what it was like in the long hot summer of 2007… ah, the memories.

Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated!

Keith Adams
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  1. What on earth happened to it, though? And why not sell the parts and move on to a different Type 4 platform car, like a 164? In fact, have you tried a Citroën XM? (Yes, I know they’re not Type 4 despite the misconceptions of others) or even a 605, if you can find one? From the point of view of “unloved big execs”, the 605 definitely deserves a look; very nice comparison to the Rover 800.

  2. What a lovely machine – although she won’t stay lovely if you store her like that!

    Given your own lack of enthusiasm (that’s January for you) and the enthusiasm of others to fix it, I’d… sell it ‘as is’ and cut your losses.

    A quick trawl of the www shows even average examples reaching (very) low 4-figure sums – money that I’m sure the SD1 will happily relieve you of at some stage, bless her.

  3. I think buy another and transplant the wheels etc.

    My Mum drives a 9000 Anniversary edition on an S plate. She loves that car and it’s about to pass 100k and, because of that, I know how little these awesome cars are now worth. If you could find a decent, late Anniversary with the 2.3 Turbo you could switch some bits (interior, wheels, suspension) and have a fantastic car again, if not the thundering machines these were.. but still quick enough.

    My Mum’s 2.3 is the only automatic I’ve managed to wheel spin. It’s the same colour as your Areo and if you didn’t know (though I’m certain you do) the Anniversarys had the full Aero bodykit.

    By the way, if you do break the car, first refusal on the wheels please 😉 Taa!

  4. I had a ’92 Aero in exactly the same colour and with the same wheels. I took it to Val d’ Iere in the French alps with five big blokes (I was the smallest at 6′ 3″), ski’s, luggage etc, 35 mpg and, at one point abroad and in the early hours, we did some very naughty speeds (140+) – it was brilliant.

    I’ve done the same journey solo in my ’73 Triumph GT6 which was great fun but hard work on the backside and a little tricky around the twisty bits. I’ve done a similar trip to Switzerland in my 944 which ate the miles and was very practical. I took the 944 under the mountains to Turin just for the hell of it – all petrolheads should do this before they die as the roads are just great.

    Anyway, back to the Saab, I say save it -these are great cars, especially in Turbo form. I drove a friend’s new Saab 9-3 convertible the other day – a nice drive but I felt sad that Saab seems to be on the way out. I’ve had 4 over the years and have always thought they were huge fun, full of character and very dependable.

    Sorry Keith, you’ll have to fix it – in your heart you know it makes sense!!

  5. Keith, I hate to say this but, if you go to all of the trouble of fixing it, you’ll just be reminded of all the trouble you had with it everytime you look at it. There will always be a cloud hanging over this car.

    Sell it, put it in storage until you find a good example or scrap it.

    If you sell it, treat yourself to something nice with the money. If you keep it, you’ll enjoy getting another but if you repair it you’ll remember the story every time you sit in it.

    Sorry about this – I’d love to say repair it but I don’t think your heart will ever be in this car again.

  6. I take it this is the result of an Autoarse windscreens bodge.

    I’d be tempted to find another more solid example and transfer all the bits over, selling what I didn’t need on eBay to re-coup some of the investment.

  7. Keith, just noticed that my new Aero is identical in spec to yours, same colour, same trim. Given the amount of time and money I’m spending on mine, I’d say save it! They are great cars.

    The repair looks tricky but, with patience and a half decent welder, it can be done. I’ve seen quite a few good repairs on this. The damage usually results from a crap windscreen replacement, scratches on the pillars trapping moisture and then rusting out. Check out UKSaabs forum for lots more info on this particularly thorny issue.

  8. I’d say save it on principle. The 2007 photo shows just what a great car is was and, if Saab finally do go pop, then that’s even more reason to keep another example on the road.

  9. I’d give it a clean and sell it through the Owners’ Club as is – does the rust extend down into the scuttle? Wouldn’t fancy letting a non-specialist weld it up in case the dash wiring got heat damaged etc – looks like a major dismantling job. Keep the SD1 as a big car and get the Alfasud sorted instead?

  10. I’d definitely fix it…

    Looks like a fantastic car in the ’07 pic and (despite obvious repair issues) still looks like it has a lot of potential.

    I was at the same point with my Audi a couple of years back and made the decision to fix. Spent 18 months on running restoration and so glad I did now the project’s complete.

    Would be great to see the Saab revived – plus it would look good next to the SD1!

  11. Scrap it Keith. The world will not be a worse place without it. The last real Saab was the 900 before it became a platform (GM Vectra) sharing job. I say save the Alfasud!

  12. If there weren’t the huge rust holes I would say have it welded – but it wouldnt be an easy job even if there was good metal there – and you can bet water has gotten where it shouldnt so you are looking at further welding and probably electrical troubles in future…

    I think this one is one that should go as a donor – in order that others may live..

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