Hirsch Dreams


Hirsch Dreams – that’s what I’ll be having this evening (with apologies to my wife if she’s reading this…..)

I’m still in Melbourne and today I spent a very interesting day with Jeff B, owner of these 2 beauties, as well as three other magnificent Saabs. If you downloaded the July 2006 calendar, then you’ve seen all the ponies in his stable. Today we were minus the 900 and 9000 Aero, but that still left plenty to talk about – a 1966 Saab 96, a nicely worked 9-3 Viggen and the truly sublime 9-5 Hirsch.

And yes, Jeff was kind enough to let me take a spin in all three.

I started with the Viggen. It’s got pretty much all the tweaks that I’m looking to do with mine. The Abbott Racing rescue kit, lowered springs, filters and the Nordic Uhr ECU. I was particularly keen to take a drive and see the effects of the rescue kit, which were significant to say the least. The rescue kit has all but eliminated the torque steer and the steering itself feels a bit more direct. No noticible detraction from the ride quality that I could tell, despite the car being lowered around 30mm at the front and 45mm at the back. Impressive to say the least.

Next we gave the Hirsch a run, and Wow! What a magnificent vehicle.

There is now way on earth that you’d hand this over to an unfamiliar driver and have them accurately tell you what sort of engine was in it.

This car is a total beast. Acceleration in mammoth doses. More feedback than Iron Maiden and Remy Shand smooth. Jeff’s done a little cosmetic work to really make it look the part as well. The 19″ wheels left me a little uninspired when I first saw the photo, but in the metal they add a fair bit of meat to what is already a quite aggressive looking car.

It seems wherever I go there’s a 9-5 taunting me these days.

Finally, whilst I was speaking to the Mrs on the phone, Jeff pushed the 96 out of the garage.

I’d admired this car indoors, but it was only in the full light of day that I could appreciate how incredibly detailed Jeff’s restoration really is. This car took 2 years or so to restore and one look will tell you it was a labour of love. I didn’t take a lot of photos today, but will hopefully get some from Jeff in the near future. All I’ll say for now is that the 96 is totally spotless.

Driving it was a blast too. My first time driving a 2-stroker. It was a fair challenge as it seemed to freewheel whenever you weren’t accelerating, meaning that you had to get your cornering line sorted early and actually give it a little in order to re-engage the gearing and apply a little engine braking. Magnificent stuff.

I’d like to thank Jeff for a truly entertaining and enlightening day. I learned a heck of a lot.

Another photo here, and a few more after the jump.





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  1. Haha, I love the license plate on the 96. :)Really cool to something that is so much a part of Swedish history, getting that much attention and care from someone way down under on the other side of the world.

  2. Swade,
    Engine braking with a mixer two-stroke is a No-No! No lubrication during engine braking. Just keep the throttle to the floor, steer the rear end, and control the speed with the foot brake;-)

  3. Great stuff, and intersting to hear of your 96 experience. Dare I ask if you attempted clutchless gearchanges as well, while it was freewheeling? Use of the freewheel seems to be a matter of personal preference. I rerely use it, as it seems to make driving far more ‘jerky’ and somewhat discontinuous, let alone being somewhat scary coasting down a steep hill with no sense of engine braking!

    Being the kind and cuddly person that I’m renowned for being, dare I suggest the 95 and 96 Souvenir are available foir road tests in the near future. Rest assured you’ll be assigned to the dicky seat at the first hint of a rough gearchange, though! ;o)


  4. Ted – good point! With the strokers it’s hardly an option not to, considering that no fuel = no lubrication. The V4’s a little different in this respect. Use of the freewheel in early steel-bumper 99’s like mine didn’t make much sense, though, and was more of a gimmick and hindrance than anything!


  5. Gents,

    My first experience driving a 2-stroker, which I never understood as being so different from driving a regular car. Jeff took a lap first and he was clutchless gearchanging all the way but I wasn’t too confident with the notion having never done it before (and beinng in his car).

    It was only a short run and hence full of mistakes, but it gave me a feel for driving it, which my words are most likely incapable of describing accurately.

    A fantastic experience though.

    Drew, we’re definitely on for a drive n shoot session and soon. Haven’t been able to see Alex this weekend, so will have to pick up parts from him next weekend.

  6. Great photo reprot.
    Ted Y is correct, old smokers need to be constantly kept on the cam – with the power on. Its a bit like flying a plane- rule 1 fly the plane rule 2, do not let the systems fly the plane.

    As a kid in Africa I can remember seeing old smoker Saabs being powered into bends – later learned that you never free wheel, you steer and squirt, and brake with the left foot. I think Erik Carlsson said that he “drove” on his brakes in this manner.

    He kept the power on – which is how he trounced bigger engined cars, the Saabs just pulled themselves through everything.

    Like the Hirsch 95 – much nicer than the ‘lame edna’ (lame not dame) as I call it.

  7. Forgive my ignorance but does the Hirschmobile come as a five speed or six?

    BTW – I’d call you a lucky bastard but most luck is earned not given – nice work & perhaps one of those small rewards that make putting up with the likes of us worth it.

  8. Well, its clearly a stunning Saab and probably the only one in the country so I shouln’t be picky……and if anyone knows their Saabs then Jeff obviously does but…..imagine it as a manual…………

    Do they only come as autos?

  9. Autobox indeed, but in sport mode it’s very agro.

    There’s another Hirsch up in Qld and the third one made its way to New Zealand. At least one of them is a wagon if I remember correctly.

    The only downside on this car was the brakes. They were big 6-pots, but less effective than the Viggen. Don’t know why.

  10. Swade, from last month’s SOM shot I see that Jeff B’s Viggen has also a fantastic set of 18″ wheels. Is that the case ?? If so, consider doing this to yours as this will also improve handling and overall road behavior dramatically. Talking form experience as per my Aero.
    Jeff B, next time I’m in Melbourne, can you please show me your Hirsch ?? Just to have a look, I won’t ask for the keys !!! I can’t wait to see this magnificent piece in the flesh. Would that be possible ???

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