Wednesday Snippets – 968, Saab Justice, Video, Le Mans, Porsche 914 and an Unknown Lambo

A big THANKYOU to all who participated in sharing the contents of your garage. It was great to see the variety of vehicles and the extent of people’s collections.

I think we might have to do this again in the future, but perhaps in a more organised way.

Anyway, thanks a bunch. It was a lot of fun.

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968 Update

Let’s start at home…..

My 968 ClubSport is in the shop right now, getting the some uprated suspension parts fitted – the famed Porsche M030 option. I ordered all the M030 suspension components except for the front dampers as my car already has coilovers in the front. So we’ve got sway bars front and rear, dampers and springs on the rear as well as all the associated bushes, etc.

That’s good news in itself.

The even better news is that the bloke who’s doing the work is outstanding!! I’m so pleased to have found someone who knows this model of car and is so friendly and happy to pass on his knowledge.

He called me today because I asked him to adjust the ride height on the car (it was riding too low at the rear). We thought this adjustment would involve manipulation of the torsion beam at the back. Nino fitted the new rear suspension and that alone raised the rear of the car so he wanted me to come in and see it. Adjusting the torsion bar was going to involve days of work, which equates to a LOT of $$$ and he wanted to avoid this cost unless I really wanted it done.

I called in there today and the car looks great. We took it for a quick spin and it feels great, too. Nino has to do some final tightening-up of various bits and the car will be ready to go. I’ll pick it up on Friday – and I can’t wait!!

Don’t you love it when you find a mechanic that knows your car and looks after you? I couldn’t be happier.

And for any Tasmanian Porsche owners reading this, you probably already know who I’m talking about. It’s Bocchino Motors in Albert Road, Moonah.

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Saab – part 1

The sadness of Saab’s state of affairs has been reflected in text by the sadness evident in an article by a guy I rate pretty high – Ezra Dyer.

It’s been about five years since Old GM morphed into the sinewy paragon of corporate efficiency known as New GM. While I don’t really weep for the axed nameplates — a brand is 10 percent history and 90 percent marketing artifice — there are a few specific vehicles from Saab, Saturn, and Hummer that I’m really starting to miss. And, as the Chevrolet SS née Pontiac G8 proves, New GM can revive a dead car if it feels like it. Join me, then, in my petition to resurrect three machines that deserve to ride again…….

……Saab 9-3 Turbo X SportCombi. Raise your hand if you like the idea of a 280-hp, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive wagon with a manual transmission and rear-axle torque vectoring. That mouthful of car-nerd nirvana describes the late 2008–2009 Saab 9-3 Turbo X SportCombi, a sharp-handling hatch that proved Saab could build a competitive car, just in time for Saab to build nothing at all.

See, that’s some very clever wordsmithing towards the end there, but I think Ezra’s missing the point.

Solution: Bring the Turbo X back as a Chevy, with cloth seats and a ,000 sticker, to battle the Ford Focus ST. In the company’s final years, the Saab badge was desperately slapped on other GM vehicles. Poetic justice demands that the badge engineering go in the other direction one final time.

There’s nothing that’s either poetic or just about this proposal.

Justice is where someone pulls the plug on GM just when it’s developing good models (which means that it’ll never happen). Justice is GM falling on its sword as Saab rises like a ……..a …… Phoenix to take its rightful place as the manufacturer of very pleasant and occasionally racy Swedemobiles. Justice is Bob Lutz working as a bathroom attendant in the mens room at Saab’s offices in Trollhattan (and those mens rooms weren’t shiny, new and fresh-smelling, I can assure you).

Justice might be blind, but I’ve got 20/20 vision and I know damn well who sucked the life out of our favourite Swede.

So yeah, bring the Turbo X back, but bring it back with a griffin proudly emblazoned down the side of the car with a FUGM93 plate on the front. Put some monster truck wheels on it and crush a fleet of Cadillacs right before parking it in front of the Ren-Cen and inflating a giant middle finger out of the sunroof.

To paraphrase the taunting Frenchmen from Monty Python’s Holy Grail – the Saab world farts in GM’s general direction!!

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Saab – part 2

I’m not sure what’s more sad: that the Swedish debt collectors are now moving in on NEVS, or that few news outlets or people really seem surprised, let alone care.

I guess this is why NEVS employed a “say nothing” PR strategy. But the lack of interest when the fit’s hitting the shan is symbolic of what they’ll face if they ever get out of this mess and start building cars again.

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Murray Walker

When I get a spare hour, I’m going to sit down and watch this documentary on the greatest voice in Formula 1 history – Murray Walker.

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Le Mans

When I get another spare hour, I’m going to really drink in this amazing post from FlatSixes.com, which details their trip to the 24 hours of Le Mans.

A great story with outstanding pictures, too.

Flat Sixes at LeMans

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Porsche 914

It’s articles like this that are going to keep pushing up the price of cars like the Porsche 914.

In all, Ray Nadda of Allendale, Michigan, figures he’s had 97 or 98 different cars over the years – British cars, Italian cars, American cars, you name it – and he’s sold every single one of them. Every one of them, that is, except for the 1974 Porsche 914 2.0 that he’s now owned for 26 years.

“A couple times over the years I thought about selling it, but this is the one car I can’t ever bring myself to get rid of,” he said. “Living in Michigan, I have to put it away every winter, but when I get it out of the garage again, it’s like having a brand new car every spring.”

You used to be able to pick up a 914 for under $10,000 here in Australia a few years ago. Now they’re starting at minimum $15K and only seem to go up from there.

I think my mate Mats, in Sweden, did well picking one up when he did. It’s mid-restoration right now and is going to be a cracking car when he’s finished.

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Unknown Lamborghini

I’m not the type to delve into every offering by every carmaker. As large as my cranium is, there’s only so much room in there and I’m too busy enjoying the cars I know to search too long and hard for ones I don’t know.

But it’s always a pleasant surprise to see a car you don’t know from a brand that you do know.

Example #1 – the Lamborghini Islero 400GT

1968-Lamborghini-Islero

And if you like it, it’s for sale on Craigslist – for $225,000!

(but seriously, who takes out a free ad with one photo for a car they’re selling for nearly a quarter of a million?!)

via Bring A Trailer

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16 Comments

  1. As auto extremist.com points out, GM isn’t doing as well as people think, partly due to the damage caused by their last CEO, partly because of the bankruptcy, and partly the recalls. In a market going as fast as the US is at the moment, they are losing market share. The real $64K question is whether profits from their trucks and SUVs will make them put their blinkers on.

    I agree with you that no one seems to be surprised that NEVS is going under. Their entire business plan was too dependent on Chinese state money, and we’ve seen this tale before.

    I have two questions though:

    1. When you look at the cars today, will any of them have the staying power of that Porsche 914 or 968 when you consider the mass of electronics embedded in the vehicle (meaning, how do you keep them running when no one can understand the software behind the vehicle, or the chips are no longer made?)

    2. Is volvo’s polestar team the new Saab?

    1. So much goodness in this comment.

      Completely agree with your #1. It will be very challenging to keep some vehicles on the road from here on out. Once the electronics go, you’re going to have to retrofit with all-new technology which could be cost prohibitive or very fiddly at the least.

      As I’ve commented here before, NEVS never had a sustainable, reasonable business model. I never invested in this iteration of Saab, and thus I’m not grieving.

      GM isn’t perfect, but their strength in light trucks, SUVs and crossovers will keep profits going through the tougher times. They will rebound from the recalls, etc. They have good product in the pipeline, and they will overcome some competition with volume and Korean manufacturing.

    2. Volvo itself is compelling for anyone who likes something thoughtful and non-mainstream. Polestar’s the icing on the cake.

  2. Re: NEVS sinking fast. Saab died back in 11, we all grieved then, so its tough to grieve a second time over the same thing (if this ends up that way). Plus NEVS is such a nebulous outfit, no one really knows what its game plan is.

    When diehards such as Tim have acknowledge that modern car technology has relentlessly moved on, even the most recent Saab is just massively out of date now. He has just posted that he is buying a BMW 328.

    1. Tim’s shift has been happening over a long period of time and is perfectly understandable. I could write a whole post about the shifting psychology behind running a site like SU (and maybe I will).

  3. I think it was a 4 series he was buying. It was also surprising how much he didn’t like the last 9-5. The Buick Regal is getting rave reviews in the US, and I believe that’s what the 9-5 was based on.

  4. I’m going to sidestep your GM vitriol and talk specifically about the merits of bringing a great vehicle such as the Turbo X back at this point.

    The TurboX would be a niche product now just as it was then. It’s also 5 years old and based upon an even older design. So, why do it? (Answer: they shouldn’t.)

    If I wanted GM to resurrect a Saab-like offering as a Chevy or Cadillac (*braces for Swade’s slap on the back of my head*), they should really work on the Opel Insignia OPC to improve it, de-content for a reduced price and go.

    1. *slap!* 🙂

      Actually, the whole GM thing is just good comedy value these days. GM are like parsley on the automotive meal of life. They make no difference to me. Just good for an occasional laugh and harmless venting.

  5. Bob Lutz……interesting to hear his name. I thought he was a sharp guy until I read his book about GM and ended up yelling at the pages when he said the Saab 900 had a V-4 engine and that was why it was a bad car! My God the V-4 had been out of the Saab line up for years when the 900 was introduced in 1979.

    You would have thought that Lutz would have been a Saab proponent with his European and BMW background. I do know his wife drove a Saab Aero wagon and loved it.

    It is paradoxical that a good car guy like Lutz was so far off in his knowledge and opinion of Saab.

    Then again he was typical of the Detroit mindset. So many top brass worked in the auto industry and really did not know much about cars……cars? Hey they call them UNITS in the biz for God’s sake.

    1. The funny thing is that Lutz was considered a ‘car guy’. It’s my opinion that he overstayed his sell by date at least 15 years. That was the primary problem.

  6. Swade, lots of interesting things in this post, as always.

    Regarding NEVS – I am starting to move with the herd on this issue.

    For the very first time I am really thinking – this looks like the absolute end of the road for Saab.

    It’s like that old TV ad with the 900 flying off the cliff, except this time it doesn’t turn into a jet.

    It turns into a jalopy with some lunatic aviator in goggles flapping his frenzied wings before landing in a dung heap.

    What I really want to know is – Swade, are you listening? – is what the hell has actually been going on behind those closed curtains and doors at NEVS/Saab HQ?

    I really would be interested to know. One day, someone with your writing and research skills – ie, You Swade – should write the definitive account.

    And yet how ironic it would be if Mahindra, having bided their time, buy the umpteen-times-deceased estate and this time next year unveil the prototypes of their all-new Saab range for production commencing in 2016!

    I agree with others who believe Saab could be the ideal ‘Audi’ (prestige European skunkworks) of Mahindra.

    If that fairytale ending doesn’t happen, as a family man I must declare an interest the following:

    French cars!

    Peugeots are, for the first time ever, exciting to me. I think their new cars are very nice indeed. Renaults are looking pretty good too.

    Citroens have been looking very tasty since the late 2000s, following 20 inexplicable years of quirky yet still boring and unexciting designs.

    Continuing love of big Swedes!

    The Volvo V70 is my dark horse, and if I had the dough it would be a nearly new XC70.

    But the old 9-5 is still going well…