My Saab

Saab 9-5 Track Day Project

Saab 9-5 ready for the racetrack

Mr. J. Galvão was surrounded by Saab cars that fascinated him from an early age. Also, a little later, he worked for a Saab dealer there in Portugal, but only recently has he been able to realize his dream of having to drive a Racing Saab 9-5. Of course, this car is reserved only for Trackdays, but the fun and respect he has for racing with the Swedish jet is great.

Because of all of the above, he wanted to share his SAAB story with the global community of admirers of our favorite Swedish car brand. So, read his Saab story below.

J. Galvão and his Saab 9-5
J. Galvão and his Saab 9-5

So here is my story with this car…

Been around with Saab since my teens when in the summer holidays, my father took me to his work (Portuguese Saab Importer). There I found Saab but only when I started to work in a Saab Dealer I started to understand these cars and started to dream about them. Many years later and after owning two 9000CS, I bought my first Saab 9-5.

Loved it so much that sold my remaining 9000CS and bought another 9-5. As life gave me a hand, I bought a 2 car garage to make my own work in these cars… and this car appears on the web. Was sold for 600.00 Eur because it didn´t work, and then started the dream of a Saab 9-5 Track Day Car on a budget – LOL

Saab 9-5 in preparation for the race track
Saab 9-5 in preparation for the race track

As I started to disassemble, the Turbo was split in half… and later found that the engine was seized…. Bad maintenance led to a damaged/warped crankshaft and block. Started to talk with some friends like Maptun, Skandix, Neobrothers, PartsForSaabs, Veicomer and with a help of some closer friends, I managed to find a Block and started to list the parts to rebuild the car. As “money doesn´t grow on trees”, meantime, I started to disassemble the interior persuing the “race car feel”.

Saab car tuning by Maptuner X and a complete overhaul of the exhaust system
Saab car tuning by Maptuner X and a complete overhaul of the exhaust system

To make a year and a half story short (because this build was done in 2hrs after work), I cut the dash in half, changed the battery to the passenger floor, put in a universal roll-bar, and remove all the interior. The engine was rebuilt with stock parts to keep the cost down and tuned to 285bhp and 440Nmby Maptuner X with a stock Aero turbo. The aim here was reliability and not puré performance to be able to enjoy this dream a long time! And keep the cost down of course!

The engine was rebuilt with stock parts
The engine was rebuilt with stock parts

The suspension is only with short and hardened springs and the Aero work was done by myself with the inspiration and wisdom from Daniel RoutleyDRtuned Racing in Canada, a friend 14-hour plane flight away: Saab Friends have no distance barriers between them!

Racing Saab 9-5

At the Autódromo Fernanda Pires da Silva aka Autódromo do Estoril, my first lap was a 2:25… and after finding (the hard way) that my brake pads were not for track use, I went with the EBC Rotors and CL pads and did shortened the springs even more and hardened them. Only then I put the Splitter and rear wing because the rear end was too loose. As this year was a crazy one due to COVID-19, I could only do 4 Track Days. In all, I did 16 – 20min sessions and 99 laps total.

Saab 9-5 at Circuito Estoril Race Track
Saab 9-5 at Circuito Estoril Race Track

That made me improve from 2:25 to a Personal Best of 2:13,53. Not bad for a 1700Kg car with street tires!

As we speak, the “season” is over… and to the car guys that mean improvements to the car. It is planned to do the V2 car diet (stock door glass and windows motors; remove sheet metal in the doors and trunk; remove rear wheel well; maybe Bonnett cooling ventilation), install a Quaife Limited Slip Diff, improve brake cooling, and later in the year run slicks tires. My aim to 2021 is to do better than 2:07!

racing Saab 9-5

So here is my story with this Saab. Was doomed to go to the scrapyard to rot to death but some guy gave it a new life as a “Race Car” keeping the brand alive and being a SAAB ambassador in the track too!

Saab Racing

I hope my story inspires someone to think the same way and not throw a car away just because is old and isn´t working. Why not transform it into Track Duties? I bet you end up with a smile on your face!

J. Galvão
Portugal


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