The automotive company Saab started off as a project by a Swedish defense contractor, that primarily produced fighter jets. Saab’s often had design features that paid homage to it’s fighter jet roots over the years. In 1999, Saab decided to make a very special version of the 9-3 model, naming it after the famous fighter jet; Viggen.
Viggen translates into English “lightening bolt” and this car most certainly was. The displacement of the already powerful 9-3 turbo engine was bumped from 2 liters to 2.3 liters, and the amount of turbo boost was increased. To help cope with the added power, Saab modified the brakes, interior and driveline. Here is a fairly detailed explanation of the changes:
Perhaps I have such a strong pension for these cars, because it shares a platform and pedigree that my beloved 1995 900 had. To this day, I miss the quirky nature, power, practicality and fuel economy that these cars offer. Saab stopped making hatchback versions of the 9-3 in 2003, which took away an odd, yet ingenious design element from the car, to appeal to the masses. Sadly, it has just about turned me off of the brand, along with many other true enthusiasts of bucking the norm with class and practicality.
On a more positive note, resale values of Viggens have been drastically dropping during the past few years. What was a $40,000 sport luxury hatch when it was new, can now be had for as little as $5,000 for a well maintained example. In my eyes, it is a fantastic bargain for someone looking for something powerful, practical and delightfully different. Wether it is the 3-door sport coupe, 5-door sedan, or the convertible, there is a Viggen for everyone. This is why it is on my list.
On a fun note, check out this ridiculous promotional video Saab produced to introduce the Viggen to dealers:
Viggen Promotional video on Youtube