Auction Pick of the Week: 1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen

Marketplace/Jeff Inglis

General Motors’ reign over Saab began in 1989 with a 50-percent buyout of the Swedish automaker and lasted until the brand’s demise in 2011. The GM era is not remembered fondly by enthusiasts who were drawn to Saab’s off-beat styling, innovative use of turbocharging, and commitment to safety. Part of this distaste stems from GM forcing the Swedish automaker to use Opel family-car platforms wholesale in an effort to save costs through badge engineering. However, even the mighty General couldn’t iron out all of Saab’s quirks.

In 1999, Saab released the 9-3 Viggen, a limited-production, hot-rodded spiritual successor to the 900 Turbos of yore. Check out our Hagerty Marketplace auction pick of the week, this 1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen, if you have a hankering for a spicy Swedish meatball.

1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen rear three quarter
Marketplace/Jeff Inglis

The first GM-influenced Saab came in the form of 1994’s New Generation 900 (NG900 as it came to be known among enthusiasts), a replacement for the classic 900 that brand loyalists held so dear. Saab engineers were apparently not impressed with the Opel Vectra platform that GM mandated they use for the new 900. So, the engineers made 1,100 changes to the NG900’s platform, including structural improvements for crash safety. Thus, the first generation of 9-3 was born.

In 1999, Saab released the high-performance 9-3 Viggen—named after Saab 37 Viggen (Swedish for lightning bolt) fighter jet. In collaboration with Tom Walkinshaw Racing, Saab fitted the car’s 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a high-capacity intercooler, a performance-tuned ECU, and a high-flow exhaust system. The upgrades were good for 225 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque and a 6.5-second sprint to 60 mph. A thoroughly upgraded chassis, suspension, and brake system were also added to keep the power under control. To top it all off, a Viggen-only body kit and special wheels were added to distinguish it from the regular 9-3. It was initially available only as a three-door coupe, but a convertible and a five-door sedan followed later in the 4-year production run.

The Lightning Blue example seen here is one of 426 examples imported to the U.S. in 1999. Notably, the car lacks the common sunroof option, making this Viggen even more unique. Condition-wise, this Viggen has some bumps and bruises from traveling 119,462 miles. The nose has some damage from rock chips, there are some cracks in the front lip and the upholstery, and paint is peeling from the wheels. Also, the Carfax report indicates that the 9-3 Viggen was involved in an accident in 2007 under previous ownership noting that, “Airbags did not deploy.”

1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen front plate
Marketplace/Jeff Inglis
1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen interior front seat vertical
Marketplace/Jeff Inglis

Despite the flaws, you can continue to enjoy and put miles on the Viggen without worrying too much. The seller does note that the engine and transmission were replaced at around the 114,000- and 110,000-mile marks, respectively. No need to worry about finding spares, as this example comes with a large crated collection of Viggen-specific parts from a 2002 9-3 Viggen, including a spare five-speed transmission, front and rear suspension arms, a spare ECU, and more.

If you want to ride the lighting in a very rare Saab, get your bids in. The auction ends on Wednesday, March 15th at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Never Stop Driving #41: The stickshift revival


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *