Weekend Snippets

In today’s snippets entry – How do you know what tyres are good at what things? Sniff Petrol does Anders Breivik. Don’t eat the mother-cake! And how small an accident does it take to write off a Saab Turbo X?


Pierre, over at the CRS Blog, has just fitted some new tyres to his 1992 Saab 900, choosing to go for comfort instead of his usual search for all-out grip. The improved ride has given him a renewed appreciation for his classic Swede.

A question that I’ve always had but never researched: How does one know which tyres are better suited to one or the other – grip or comfort?

Personally, my knowledge is restricted to what the man in the store tells me. That’s a flawed situation, of course, because the man in the store quite likely makes a better margin on one tyre compared to another.

I might have to tap Pierre for the answer, or simply get off my arse and do some research myself.


Sniff Petrol tackles Bernie Ecclestone’s ambivalence to the situation in Bahrain in it’s usual, confronting style.

Perhaps this is where Jeremy Clarkson gets some of his more controversial lines from? Sniff is, after all, written by Richard Porter, who’s name you’ll see in the credits for Top Gear every week. He’s the script editor.


Porter is also one third of the team that supplies the Gareth Jones on Speed podcast every few weeks. It’s well worth a listen, especially if you’re into Formula 1. And there just happens to be a new episode out today.


Fans of all things Swedish will get a laugh out of this: Nine things that don’t translate so well from Swedish to English.


A quick, personal update on Targa Tasmania – I just found out yesterday that the guy who now owns my Saab 9-3 Viggen is competing this year. He’s not driving the Viggen, however. Wayne has a fleet of vehicles and he’s driving a Porsche 911 in Targa this year.

Will try and catch up with him when the race finishes in Hobart tomorrow.


And speaking of my Viggen…….

When I bought it back in 2005, it had been repaired after a small front-end accident. The accident really was a minor one – I saw the photos – but the relative rarity of Saab parts caused the insurance company to put it in the too-hard basket and they declared the vehicle to be a write off (which it obviously wasn’t as it’s still running beautifully to this day, even after I had a major accident in it).

I received some photos during the week of a Saab 9-3 Turbo X that appears to have been in an even smaller accident than the one that first wrote off my Viggen. The owner is a guy in the US, a reader from the TS and SU days whose car featured on those pages some time back.

His website seems to be hanging as I write this so I can’t get on there to extract some images right now. From what I remember from a few days ago, it looks like he’ll need a new front bumper, grille and headlamps.

I was going to cover this accident as an exercise in seeing how long it would take for Saab Parts to supply the necessary bits to his repairer. As it turns out, that won’t be necessary. As with my Viggen, the insurance company has deemed the repairs significant enough to classify the Turbo X as a write-off.

I’m amazed. Here in Australia, the Turbo X is still a $40,000 vehicle. That such a fine car can be considered a write-off after such a small bingle is a real head-scratcher for me.

I’ll update with photos when his website is back online and yo’ll be able to see for yourself. And if anyone’s interested in buying the ‘wreck’ from the insurance company, I can put you in touch with owner.

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  1. Hi Steve,

    I’d be interested, as a Pom in Oz, to know the origin of the term Bingle. It seems to describe a car accident, an insurance company is called Bingle and then there’s Lara Bingle…..
    Which came first?

    1. Correct – a bingle is a crash (usually a small one).

      Though one could look at Michael Clarke’s cricket career during the ‘Lara years’ and conclude that it was bingled as well 🙂

  2. Always amazes me how different things are in different countries. I’m currently in Russia (I live both here and in UK) and the way car damage is treated in each country is amazing! My wife’s dad’s wife recently crashed her Mitsubishi Colt – a bad one, ending up with it rolling. The car needed a new roof and just about every panel repaired or replaced! In UK (and probably Oz) this car would most definately have ended up in the scrappy – but here in Russia, it’s been repaired! Yup, new roof and all and is back on the road, looking like new – and all for the princely sum of 120,000 rubles which is roughly £3000. All down to costs I guess..

  3. only a google cache available up to now, without pictures.
    Repair costs seem to sum up quickly nowadays. I myself had a frontal accident with my 9-3 at low speed. Parts to be replaced: bumper, hood, radiator, c… and both headlights (xenon) plus various small parts. Nothing bent or so, even the wings were still perfect.
    Total repair costs: € 10.000. A bit of a shock really. If that would happen to me now, the car would be a write-off too (although it isn’t a Turbo X).

  4. As for choosing tyres, tirerack.com is great. They have tests & customer survey info plus the tires are cheap- 4 performance tyres from tire rack delivered to Australia is cheaper then buying them in Au. I’m about to buy another set myself :).

    See here: http://www.tirerack.com/tires/surveyresults/index.jsp

    Australian tyres are what the US call “Summer Tires”.

  5. I’ll second tirerack.com as a great place to research tires (excuse my North American use of tires vs tyres). I use it as a place to research tires, then go to my local tire store with that knowledge. I’m fortunate to have a great local tire dealer.

    I’ll also second Pierre’s tire choice that you referred too. I just put on a set of 205 / 55 /16 Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires on my 1999 Saab 9-3 SE. I too wanted a quieter ride. I have never been as enthusiastic about a set of tires before in my life. Smooth. Quiet. And I can’t notice any loss of performance. I love ’em.

  6. Visting Bernens website and looking at the pictures of the damage I can only reflect over what looks to be plastic repairs and fixing of headlights. Saab Parts are up and running and parts shouldn’t be a big issue now.

    This is not a writeoff. It’s a dented car is all.


  7. Regarding tyres.

    I have now replaced my worn out Pirelli P7’s up front (still have 7 mm left in the rear of the Italians) with a Continental ditto.
    When looking around for 235/45-17, that my Anni rims came with, I got in contact with my friend Robin M in England to see what the difference in price is between Swe/Eng. Sweden is mostly a costly country to live in. Ok, we have high standards in most aspects but some things are to highly taxed that it leads to people not buying new but used, cheapo noname brands with rubbish compounds, or try to use stuff til there is nothing left to use. Stupid when it comes to products like tyres which is part of safety.
    Back to England:
    First, the tyres in England are cheaper than in Sweden and fact number two ,which struck me as straaange, was that 225/45-17’s are more expensive in England than 235’s.

    Well my baby has new shoes on and daddy’s happy… But daddy’s pocketbook is not.


  8. Here’s some tyre advice that you will (almost) never read on an enthusiast site: stick with the original sizes, as listed on the door jamb or fuel filler door.
    You should also stick to the recommended tyre pressure.

    I don’t think I’ve ever driven a car that’s been improved by running monster rims and/or rock hard pressures. All you get is a bouncy ride and less grip, because the suspension isn’t designed to keep your massive rubber on the road. Some people run stiffer dampers and springs to fix this, but it only makes things worse. There’s nothing fast or even sporty about a car that can’t put the power down, or that’s prone to spinning end-for-end every time there’s a small bump in a corner.

    My other tyre advice is to buy the best you can afford, from a trusted brand. The price difference between a good tyre and a bad tyre is almost always less than the cost of a tank of gas, so don’t be cheap. Besides, you will get the money back if you buy a tyre that’s made using the latest low rolling resistance technology.

  9. I saw Beren’s site- and the damage to his vehicle- and I am very worried. If those parts are not available or too expensive, that’s a very scary thing. The damage looked cosmetic at best, and it could happen to any SAAB owner.

    1. My site is back up – sorry about that. The damage was worse than the pics show, but it is very concerning that I couldn’t get parts like headlights.

      After looking under the car there was more significant damage that the collision shop missed – the intercooler was damaged and once the car was warmed up the turbo was not operating. There also was a strange dark black/purple fluid coming out from somewhere. Don’t know what it was.


  10. That is terrible that car got taken out the way it did. 🙁

    Not sure what I would purchase if my car was damaged and I had to get something quick. Ugh….