Viggen: the saga continues

After shooting off a fairly brief email saying the deal was off, the owner contacted me again last night and included some ‘before’ shots.

In Victoria (the state where the car is located), there’s 2 types of writeoff. The first is the Statutory Writeoff, where the vehicle cannot be repaired and is only good for parts etc. The second is the Repairable Writeoff, which is (you guessed it) repairable, but written off by the insurer as uneconomical to repair.

The Viggen I’ve been looking at obviously falls into the second category. I’ve enquired with VicRoads and in order to be re-registered after being logged as a Repairable Writeoff, a vehicle has to undergo an identity check to confirm it’s not a rebirthed stolen vehicle and a roadworthiness test, which is a pretty thorough examination of the general condition of the car. Of concern to me is the fact that whilst it’s inspected reasonably thoroughly, there’s no engineer’s certification required in order for re-registration.

The car has been re-registered as at July 2005 (written off Sept 2004) so I assume it’s had it’s identity check done and confirmed (though I’ve asked for a copy of the VIV certificate as confirmation). The owner actually took it for another roadworthy test yesterday and it came back 100% – Nil faults found.

I’m checking whether an insurer will touch the vehicle or not. If so, then the Viggen might be back in play, though it will have to be at a lower price and after a panel-beater friend of mine looks it over.

Here’s the before shots and a few after’s. Whaddaya think?


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Saab Viggen front small.jpg

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Saab Viggen engine small.jpg

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Viggen interior small.jpg

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  1. Swade,

    I don’t know how to tell you this, but when they rebuilt it, they put the steering wheel on the wrong side!!!!


  2. I would’t buy a crashed car no matter how well they repaired it. There could be unseen structural damage. The frame/welds/etc could be weakened from the 1st crash and then fail easily in the next crash (and thus not protect you).

    I would not reccomend it unless: it’s a redicoulously low price and you don’t valude crash worthyness.

    Just my $.02

  3. I have to echo Mike on this one, Swade. Again not familiar with Aussie regulations, a car generally is “written off” if the value of the repair exceeds an X amount of the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Admittedly the “before” pics aren’t as bad as I imagined, but again like Mike said there are damages you can’t see that could be compromised, and not protect you and your family when you need that protection. How much is that “original OEM” occupant protection worth ? …… priceless as far as I’m concerned.

    Resist the temptation. Find yourself a better (and safer) deal out there.

  4. I meant to say: “damages to critical structural components you can’t see, thus their integrity could be compromised”

    Getting over a bad flu, must be the codeine talking ……

  5. I’m on the other side of the comments — if I were in your shoes, and the price was right, I’d buy it. The real downside of a salvage title car is that it’s very difficult to re-sell, but if you’re planning to keep the car for a long time, re-sale shouldn’t be a big issue.

    As far as hidden structural damage, it looks to me like a straight-on front end hit. And not a bad one at that. The windshield did not crack in the accident (judging from the pictures) and that indicates that the passenger cage did not take a big hit. Ask about any repairs to the doors, or if the doors had to be adjusted after the accident. If not (and I suspect not) the entirety of the impact was borne by the front end.

    I’d check the integrity of the hood hinges (do you call them bonnets down there?) to make sure that the hood crumple zone is still in order.

    When I bought my ’88 9000 T with a salvage title, I called the guy who had owned the car previously when it had the accident. This was virtually an identical front end hit. He told me that he had been utterly shocked when the insurance company had written the car off – the accident wasn’t even hard enough to knock his briefcase off the passenger seat.

    The primary safety issues are maintaining the hood crumple pattern (to keep it out of the passenger cabin in an accident), and the having the engine drop out. If the hood hinges are fine, and if the engine mounts did not have to be repaired after the accident, I don’t see why safety would be compromised.

    As far the safety issue, imagine if this accident had occurred the day after the car left the lot — it would not have been written-off because there was enough residual value in the car to make the repairs economical.

    In other words, it’s not a safety issue it’s a money issue.

  6. “In other words, it’s not a safety issue it’s a money issue.”


    How was this repair funded? It was written off because it would cost more to repair than the car was worth. At that point, the insurance company paid the owner off for it, the owner then purchased it back from the insurance company and paid out of his pockets to get it repaired — did he truly put more into the car than it was worth to get it repaired, or were corners cut?

  7. I’d have to say that one level I’m thinking along Greg’s lines here. And not just because I’m somewhat enamoured with the car. I have a top price that’s been adjusted way down and if he can’t meet it then it’s sayoonara Viggen.

    I looked at the crash photos this morning and my first thought was, well, if this happened to our 9000 CS, would I accept a repair or get a new car? I have to say I would have been able to accept a repair. Understandably, this is going on photos only, so the value of that is limited.

    Re-sale’s not an issue as whatever I buy next will be a long-term keeper. I have a mate down here that built up one of the best 900 Aero’s I’ve ever seen out of a wreck that looked much worse than this.

    I’m still doing my homework folks. The hard part is the uncertainty.

    Thanks for all your words of wisdom and caution.

  8. I have to agree with Greg.
    I live in Trollhattan and I’ve been a contractor at Saab for 4 years so I’ve seen some crashed cars and that one doesn’t look to bad. The sheetmetal above the lights is a part that isnt welded in but bolted so that’s not an issue. What you do want to check closer is the area below the battery and the intake hose in the “lower left corner” (if standing in front of the car watching the engine compartment) This is where the crash boxes and bumper beam is fastened to the rest of the body. The area behind the crash box interface should not have any crash related wrinkles. You could probably tell from cracked paint that has been painted over. The crash boxes and the bumper beam is a replacement part since it does most of it’s work in crashed up to 20km/h. If you need more info just give me a shout on my email. Cheers / Mats

  9. I’d also suggest to check if the airbags went off, and also pay some attention to the A/C pipes near the radiator (their geometry). I used to have a crashed car and it’s not a big deal after all.

  10. Well I’ve a friend that works with crashed cars and fix their structural damage. A good fix is rather easy to complete and to buy one is not a big problame. You must have at least 10 percent discount compared to a similar uncrashed vehicale. The big problem is that is a bit hard to resell so you better like it and keep on to it.

  11. Looks a fairly minor bingle to me. Here in NSW they often write off perfectly repairable cars. It must be far cheaper for the insurance company to either just reimburse the owner or find a similar car on a used caryard bulging at the seams with trade ins than it would be to fund the repairs. The repairable write off goes to auction and someone who knows what they are doing buys it, repairs and resells it as near perfect. Looks like a bargain might be had to me.

  12. I’d hardly define a radiator panel replacement as major damage – it’s not even a structural part! Given today’s repair technology, which has obviously been applied to repairing this vehicle, anyone dismissive of such damage as a cause for concern simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about. What a bunch of old women! ;o)


  13. Why didn’t he mention this right from the start? Did he think you weren’t going to find out? Personally I wouldn’t trust the seller from this point foreword.

  14. Drew would be the one that rebuilt the immaculate 900Aero, hence the Aussie abuse hurled in good humour at all the ‘old women’, which is, of course, an Australian term of endearment meaning ‘one to be respected and admired and then thrown down the stairs when they’re not looking…..’

    Oh, the things I have to do to smooth over international relations!

  15. Swade, I’d have to agree with JB. This is what I was thinking. This guy tried to sell you the car at the going rate for a non-ex-salvage car. Then it’s not until you find out that it’s been repaired that he’s willing to lower the price accordingly. What if you hadn’t found out? You would have spent a lot of money on an ex-salvage car that was worth a lot less. I wouldn’t deal with this guy any longer, though I know it’s hard when we’re talking about your dream car. I’d suggest you walk away, but that’s MHO.

  16. I may still do just that – walk away, that is. He is a little difficult to deal with, but the car is worth chasing up, to an extent.

    Should sew up what should be the final chapter of this tale very shortly.

  17. Keeping an eye on proceedings, it’s obvious that most folk here don’t like the prospect of buying a Saab that’s been involved in a minor accident. I really don’t understand why.

    Firtsly, there’s the term ‘write-off’. What does that actually mean? Usually, it means that the damage has exceeded the car’s worth. In this case, that’s not true: the damage was far less than half the car’s worth. It’s common for unusual/Euro cars to be ‘written off’ with very minor damage, simply because of the waiting times for parts. In many cases, freight times of up to 3 months from Saab Sweden to Oz make repair uneconomic and time-consuming….. and what’s the owner supposed to drive in the meantime? Hire car costs aren’t cheap, and insurance companies hate paying for them.

    Then there’s the term ‘ex-salvage’. That’s a misnoma. In Victoria, EVERY vehicle not chosen to be repaired is deemed ‘salvage’. This car was termed ‘repairable salvage’, meaning that it could be repaired to pre-accident condition. I always laugh at people who say ‘that’s an ex-salvage car!”, usually not realising that their own car’s probably once suffered similar damage and been repaired – often using copious quantities of filler.

    If a vehicle such as this has been fixed using new parts, where’s the problem? Where’
    s all the filler? What has actually been repaired? In reality, probably nothing. How can new parts be classified as ‘suspect’, and such repairs frowned upon? From experience, it’s the most minor repairs that are repaired the worst. Often, one or two badly repaired panels spoil a whole car.

    Why are panel repairers so frowned upon? The technology the industry uses is enormously complex and expensive. Utilising such equipment, it’s perfectly possible for even badly damaged cars to be returned to pre-accident condition. A 900 I once repaired using a laser alignment jig had actually been made 2mm ‘out’ on the LHS from the factory, proving that even OE standards aren’t too flash.

    The there’s the owner. I’ll bet that if the vehicle hadn’t been identified as being repaired, nobody would have ever known that it had. How many of us could say that accident damage on our car has been repaired using new parts? In this case, we have visual evidence of what’s occurred. But how many of us keep photos of the time we backed into the gatepost or smashed a front guard in? Would we know exactly how it had been fixed, and by whom? Would we show the photos to a potential buyer, or think nothing of it, not really knwoing what had actually been repaired anyway? Most of the used cars I see have minor damage here and there, which is often just as costly to repair.

    At the end of the day, if your car was involved in a light accident, what would you all prefer – lightly damaged panels that required straightening and filling or brand new replacement parts? I know which I’d prefer.

    Swade, buy the car. It’s a steal!


  18. Swade,

    Looks like mostly cosmetic damage to me. Echo the previous posters, have a look at the structural members. If they are OK, then the car is probably fine. Also check that the front end is aligned and tracks true.

    If this was your car pre-crash, you would have it fixed and keep it, right?

  19. AP, I probably would have. I’ve chatted with a few folks at length and the consensus seems to be as you’ve stated.

    For all interested parties – I’ve purchased the car and will get it next weekend.

    AP – now where can order some o’ them “truck nuts”?

  20. Congrats on the purchase.. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I remember the first time i drove a Viggen… I’ll summarize it like this…if you’re on a narrow twisty road with bad surface… out for the torque in second gear… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. You will love the car. Used to drive Alfa Romeos, GTV-6 with a 3.0 from a Milano and a 164s. Too much money to keep right. Bought a 2002 Viggen new now has 165,000 with a BSR upgrade at 40,000. Original turbo still going strong, does not burn oil. Best car I have ever owned. Wife has a 2002 9-5 Areo. Good Luck and you will have fun.


  22. Thanks Rob, though this entry is nearly 2 years old now and I’ve had the car since then. Turns out I had too much fun too. If you search recent Viggen entries you’ll see that the car’s currently waiting for repairs from an accident during a driver training mishap.

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