As some people may know, I haven’t been to a Tartan Tarmac meet in absolutely ages, that was unfortunately due to the C70 being off the road due to the engine clean & also the alternator failing on me, thankfully the C70 is now working rather well so I decided to return to Tartan Tarmac with the C70 after a 3 month break to see what I’d missed – I was definitely in for a surprise!
Now I’ve been to a Tartan Tarmac breakfast meet before, on average there is normally about 400 cars there and about 500+ people there with all different cars & bikes, this time however, I’d never seen it so busy before, there must’ve been about 600+ cars and over a 1000 people there, it was so packed that all three car parks in Motherwell College were packed to the brim – something I’d never seen at a Tartan Tarmac meet or even while I was at the college studying.
The cars which were on show were as always out of this world, anything from the latest Supercars & Exotics to an 80’s Mercedes 190E Evo II – That’s right, a DTM legend was in a College Car Park as part of TT, there was so many cool cars there that all the photographers (including myself) didn’t know where to start, it had to of been the craziest TT meet to date!
I decided to take the C70 as it hadn’t been to a meet since May and it had had some work done to it since back then, It was so good to be back with the C70 after both being absent for a good amount of months away – I was finally able to show off the engine bay properly since ownership thanks to the clean it’d had a few months back, also with the new alternator fitted, she was running perfectly too!
For next months meet, I’d like to see if we can bring up the Saab so we can show that off a lil bit as it’s not been to a car meet of yet, also it makes a change from bringing the Volvo every time too, also with most of the Saab’s little niggles fixed up, it’s definitely show ready – all we have to do is prize the keys out of my parents hands!
Overall, this had to be the craziest TT meet to date, the cars were as brilliant as ever, the weather stayed put, there was tons of variety, there was tons of like minded enthusiasts to talk to & meet plus as per usual, a great hosting place too!, this had to be the best TT meet I’ve been to as of yet.
So for those who may have noticed, it has become quite apparent that I have a love affair for Swedish Cars, Now, Before we start, I do love every single car from all different manufacturers & I don’t intentionally hate on cars unless I have experienced them in the past. Now as of late I have been showing quite a bit of love for Sweden and their cars, Here below is why I prefer Swedish cars over anything else.
Now as you may know, with the recent purchase of our wonderful little Saab 9-5 Wagon, along with the C70, we are now a two Swedish car family again. Even though they are two completely different manufacturers who both have had different ways of building their cars, they have both made some absolutely brilliant models in the past.
For a start, Swedish cars in general offer a brilliant package for the price, For instance, a 2007 Subaru Legacy 3.0 H6 Wagon with similar performance & options to Wasaabi are nearly double the price and for what you get as a package in the Subaru, it just isn’t worth spending the extra money. The Volvo is also the same, for a low mileage, well specced, well looked after C70 T5 Coupe with every option ticked similar to mine, you’d be paying significantly more for a similar BMW 3 Series Coupe or Mercedes CLK of the same age with the same equipment.
Next on the list is overall cost of parts, Now don’t get me wrong, Both Volvo’s & Saab’s can be fairly expensive to fix up and look after but in comparison to their rivals they actually make a lot of sense, for every part you buy for a Saab or Volvo, their rivals are charging over double for something similar, this makes both manufacturers easy to get into without breaking the bank.
Also they’re very well built, you get the feeling that both cars are gonna last the length of time with nothing more than simple servicing, add in the price of the parts and as long as you’ve got a well looked after example, you’ll rarely be going to the garage to get them sorted out – Sweden really do know how to build a car properly!
Safety is also very high on both their lists, both manufacturers have always made 5 star cars throughout the years while also creating some breakthrough safety kit too!, Volvo for instance bought us the 3 point seatbelt while Saab bought us multiple airbags in all of their cars.
Tuning is also very much possible on both Volvo’s & Saabs with many seeing well over 300bhp without doing too much to them, It may seem strange to modify either a Saab or Volvo but it is possible. A simple look online will surprise you in how well they can be modified, on top of that, not many people have modified Volvo’s or Saabs so seeing one out in the wild is rather rare.
This brings me onto my next point, If you ever find a Modified Volvo or Saab at a car show, go and talk to the owner about it and you’ll find out that they are so down to earth it’s unreal, you can tell straight away that they love their cars and love talking to people about them, they never turn up their noses to anybody and are generally great people to talk to, The Swedish Car Culture is a brilliant camp to be in. I’ve been able to meet some members of Volvo Groups I’m involved in and straight away I’ve been accepted into the group with my C70 without any of them turning their noses up because it’s not to their taste.
Now If you aren’t really into Volvo’s or Saabs that much, Remember, Koenigsegg have your back, with their engineering going above anything any other manufacturer can come up with, they are serious contenders in the Hypercar Segment – Not bad for a company which is relatively small and has been around for about 20 years or so!
So just remember, If you ever see either a Volvo or Saab on the road, Don’t turn away because it’s not what your into, You might own one one day and fall head over heels like many people have done before – Don’t mock before you try one, it might surprise you!
Now in the world of hyper cars, Performance is key! Manufacturers from all over the world try to take the crown for the 0 – 400kmh – 0 time. Bugatti have only held that title recently with their Chiron – well now, the ever so slightly deranged Swedish Engineers at Koenigsegg have stolen Bugatti’s crown in spectacular fashion!
The Swedish Car Manufacturers used a customers Agera RS which had 1,360bhp & 1,011 Ib – ft Torque from it’s 5.0 Twin Turbo V8, to make sure it was safe in case of an accident, the engineers fitted a removable roll cage just in case things went turtle.
The Track itself was in Vandel in Scandinavia and while it wasn’t the best track to run on (full of uneven ruts & potholes & only 2.8 km long), the almighty Swede seemed to just take it into it’s stride, both the car and the driver were prepped, To make sure everything was done properly, the RS used was brand new and only been driven at 186 mph prior to the run, after a few practise attempts, the test driver Niklas Lilja lined the RS for it’s record run.
It hit 249mph (400kmh) in 26.88 seconds covering a distance of 1.9km which is mind blowing, braking from 400 kmh to 0 was done in an astonishing 9.56 seconds covering a measly 483m in the process – to add insult to injury, the Chiron done the 0 – 400kmh run in 32.6 seconds and it covered a larger distance of 2.6km, braking for the Chiron was done in an equally impressive 9.3 seconds over a 491m distance – close but no cigar!
Now for those who can’t work out the maths, the Mighty Swede beat the Bugatti by over 5 seconds, in terms of Hyper Car talk, that’s one whole week! The Koenigsegg was able to do all that while struggling for grip in the first 3 gears, thankfully the Traction Control was able to sort it out and alongside the driver, they were able to propel it into the history books.
Another Thing to remember is that Koenigsegg is a relatively small company compared to Bugatti, so for them to be able to beat them is a huge feat – its the vehicle equivalent to David Vs Goliath!
So how is this going to go forward?, well it’d have to take some top class engineers to beat Koenigseggs time and if I’m honest, I don’t think we’ll see one for quite a while but to whoever decides to take them on, they would have to have guts of steel and quite a car on their hands to beat their time!
So here we have it, now we are both Volvo & Saab owners now, it is time for the obligitary Head to Head Discussion – Which Swede is Best Swede?
Now on the surface of things, Volvo & Saab may seem very similar to each other, their cars were both rivals to one another and their Trucks are also very much rivals to each other, also their headquarters are based about 50 miles away from each other – Volvo in Gothenburg, Saab in Trollhattan and essentially they both had their similar ways of building cars but as a matter of fact, they couldn’t be that different to each other.
We’ll start off with Saab first, The company started off as Aeroplane manufacturers in 1937 before eventually in 1947 they started moving onto making cars and commercial vehicles, Saab Automobiles ran from 1947 to 1995 and in that time, just like Volvo they made some truly good cars which were dependable, reliable and very well built as well as being sporty, Unlike Volvo however they were known in there early days for using small two & three cylinder engines which were 2 cycle engines – essentially meant you had to add oil to the fuel tank like you would with a two stroke lawnmower.
In the 70’s & especially the 80’s they were known for going absolutely crazy with their cars and made a very good reputation for themselves by making turbocharged cars affordable with both the 99 Turbo and the 900 Turbo, now Saab were not the pioneers of turbocharging but they were the first to add it to one of their ordinary models and made it affordable to regular customers, this meant that their cars sold like hotcakes and everyone wanted one, they were safer than their competition, more reliable, better built and now in many ways quicker with the Turbocharger added.
By the early to Mid-Nineties, GM took over and bought Saab more upmarket, just before GM took over, Saab released the 9000, this was an executive saloon which was based on the Lancia Thema, the Fiat Croma and the Alfa 164, again, compared to both it’s rivals and even it’s sister cars it was better built and tons safer as well as bringing in a certain touch of Swedish class.
In GM Ownership however things took a bit of a downward turn, while there cars were as daft as ever, they were more subdued in terms of styling, The Turbo models weren’t as brash and worst of all, most of the parts were from GM’s parts bin which essentially meant that the UK Cars were based on Vauxhalls, now while some people may like Vauxhalls, they were not as well built as old Saabs which meant that the dependability and overall reliability of them weren’t as good as Saabs of old. The only exception to this were the Aero models which were truly a cut above the rest!
However, Saab weren’t that stupid however, If they didn’t like what GM were giving to them, they’d simply either upgrade it or even make their own better version, while this worked out in terms of build quality, Saab were spending money which they could unfortunately never make back, and eventually in 2011, Saab Automobiles filed for bankruptcy and were filed to the history books.
Now in that time Saabs were very quirky cars, for instance, the keys were slotted into the centre console instead of the steering column – Why? Because Saab!, also in the 99 Turbo and the 900 Turbo, the engines were laid Longitudinally instead of transversely which made for an interesting driving experience, Also we can’t forget Saabs infamous Night Panel feature which essentially dimmed all the lights apart from the speedometer, These features made Saabs some of the quirkiest cars on the market.
Now Finally onto Volvo! – Volvo essentially started off as a ball bearing company before eventually just like Saab started to move into vehicle manufacturing, Volvo started in 1927 which meant that right off the bat, Volvo were already 20 years ahead in terms of car building, during their ninety year run, they have been renown for their outstanding safety ratings and have been a real pioneer in safety.
Just like Saab, Volvo have also made some quick models too which have included 242 Turbo’s, numerous T5’s, their R cars and now their Polestar lineup, now unlike Saab, Volvo are well known to use their 5 Cylinder engines to power their fast models which have made them some brilliant little sleepers as Volvo’s are normally festooned with Leather seats and all the comfort anyone would ever need.
Nowadays, Volvo are owned by the Geely Group and these days Volvo’s make some of the best premium cars out there, they have been able to bring in some really stylish cars into their line up which can now bring in some potential BMW owners & Mercedes owners into a Volvo Dealership instead.
The reason why Volvo have been able to stay afloat throughout these years is because they have been able to hide most of their shared parts very well indeed when owned by Ford, for instance, If you just so happen to own an mid noughts Aston Martin, you’ll find that the both the Key Fob & the Sat Nav system is actually a Volvo Unit, this means that on first glance, they didn’t share a lot in common with the other manufacturers Ford owned in that time. Volvo’s were still on the whole Volvo’s and Aston Martins still felt like Aston Martins. If Ford done the same with Volvo as what GM did with Saab, it’s highly likely that Volvo would end up the same as Saab.
So, where does this wind up for us petrolhead who can’t work out which Swedish car to go for? Well simply put, if you want a sporty Swedish car with crazy looks and added quirkiness, definitely go for a Saab, If you want to get there Quickly but in acres of comfort, go & buy a Volvo. Just remember, you’ll pay double for a decent 9-5 Manual compared to a decent V70 T5 Manual for instance!
So it’s official! We finally have a new car to replace our trusted old Legacy, Say hello everybody to our 2007 Saab 9-5 Estate Auto which goes by the name of ‘Wasaabi’
Yes – That’s right!, we have replaced our 2006 Subaru Legacy Wagon for a 2007 Saab 9-5 Wagon, now while the Subaru was a brilliant daily driver/family wagon, this Saab is something else, for a start she is a lower mileage example compared to others in the same price bracket plus she is a top spec example with nearly every single option ticked which includes heated seats, electric drivers seat, electric mirrors, Full leather seats, Dual zone climate control, Air Conditioning the lot!
Now for those who maybe wondering why it’s nicknamed Wasaabi, the simple answer is that she is not an any run of the mill 9-5 Estate, she just so happens to be a HOT Aero Estate which has a stonking 260bhp & an equally impressive 350nm of Torque from it’s 2.3T 4 Cylinder B235R engine which means she can do a 0-60 run in 8.1 seconds and can cruise up to 152mph, not too bad for a big 1.6 ton Swedish estate, in fact back in its day it could outrun a Porsche 911 Turbo in a 40 – 70 MPH sprint!
So what made us go for a Saab in the end? Well we never really thought of a Saab as a Legacy replacement, we were actually considering either a Toyota Avensis or another possibly another Subaru Forester to replace the Legacy, the two cars in question are very good cars in their own right but both had their flaws, if we got an Avensis it’d had to of been an estate which would’ve been fine if we could find any for sale within our budget, now if we’d have gone for the Forester we wouldn’t of had any problems in terms of space or even pace but Subaru Parts are an absolute joke in terms of price and that alone put us off and was a major reason why the Legacy had to go, This is where the oddball Swedish company comes into play.
The Saab had all the practicality and pace of the Forester yet was as cheap to run as the Avensis, for £1500 we were able to find a relatively good example top specced, low mileage example of a sporty swede Estate, now compared to the likes of both the Avensis & Forester, you’d have to pay double for either a top spec model or a low mileage example and they just didn’t have what the Saab has to offer.
I stumbled across our 9-5 on AutoTrader for a measly £1500 while looking at either estates or SUV’s within our £2k budget, after looking at it’s MOT History and other things we decided it was worth a shot and we couldn’t let it go, so we decided to put down a deposit and eventually buy it, only issue was a 300+ mile journey down to Luton to get it.
Now while it may not of been everyones best idea to go and travel 300+ miles to get a car, we decided it was best if we made a weekend of it, so instead of just going & buying it and bringing it home, we decided to go to a few different places we had either never been to or places we’d not visited in quite a while.
some of these places were Blackpool, Newton Pagnell & Lancaster, of all the places we visited, I loved Newport Pagnell, I was luckily able to visit the Aston Martin Works dealership while down there and get close to some of my dream cars from my favourite manufacturer, that alone made the 300+ mile trip worthwhile.
We have had the Saab now for 1 week and we are already smitten with it, now like every car, it does have it’s little issues & niggles but it’s not drastic and can be easily fixed without breaking the bank, in fact, during the last week, it’s already had new tyres fitted alongside a brand new battery, some new bulbs and some new wipers too, soon it is due to have the thermostat changed alongside some other bits & pieces fitted too!
This is our first entry into Saab ownership and so far, so good, it is everything we expected it to be and more and we can finally relax in knowing it’s not going to break the bank any time soon, after a good two years of having Subaru’s, we are finally back in a Swedish beauty and for that reason alone I’m over the moon.