Despite the fact that SUVs and trucks became the most popular vehicle classes on the North American continent, they are not as widespread in Europe. The streets of small towns and big European cities are dominated by hatchbacks and wagons because they are compact, efficient, and incredibly versatile. Even the European premium car segment features a lot of executive-level wagons with impressive performance characteristics that aren’t offered in other parts of the world.
In the late 90s, SAAB 9-5 Aero was one of the coolest choices in the segment of premium-level wagons. It was equipped with a sport suspension and a high-output turbocharged engine that produced up to 260HP with immense torque and simply mind-blowing acceleration. It even outperformed Porsche 911 Turbo in terms of acceleration from 40 to 90MPH according to Wikipedia!
Luckily these cars were not exclusive for Europe only, and the fans of these unique in many ways vehicles had a chance to enjoy them on the roads of the USA. The fact that the SAAB automotive brand originates from a Swedish aerospace and defense company, makes it clear that a lot of things in these cars are made differently engineering-wise, which is why they are often compared with fighter jets.
“Even though the production of these cars ended back in 2010 and the company went bankrupt, SAAB still has a huge following around the world.”
This awesome 2005 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon, ended up in the hands of a real car guy and enthusiast who decided to enhance its performance and visual appeal. Unlike the majority of the SAAB enthusiasts who prefer modest OEM+ styling, the owner of this Aero Wagon decided to go beyond that and customize his 9-5 with details that give it a bit of flare.
“Unlike the majority of the SAAB enthusiasts who prefer modest OEM+ styling, the owner of this Aero Wagon decided to go beyond that and customize his 9-5 with details that give it a bit of flare.”
The car sits low on KT Racing adjustable coilovers and a set of striking mismatched custom wheels. The front pair is turbo-style RSE rims by Rotiform with Rotiform Aerodiscs, and ESR wheels in the back, wrapped in Hankook Ventus V12 Evo 2 tires. Custom spacers all around are used to really bring that low & wide stanced look home.
Among the performance mods are custom open air intake, 3” downpipe with race cat, full exhaust, stage 2 tune, and a SPEC stage II clutch.
To cope with the improved performance and improve the braking performance the owner installed a set of Brembo 4-piston calipers, Goodridge steel-braided lines, and Hawk HPS pads.
“The exterior mods include a stylish Saab Turbo X front lip, European clear corner lenses, and a Thule roof rack.”
The gorgeous tan/grey leather interior was left pretty much stock except for the Stitchboots custom shift boot, NRG heat sink shift knob, and adapter. To improve the lateral support and give the car that racing-inspired character, the owner decided to install a set of Braum bucket seats in Burgundy color, which looks surprisingly awesome in a contrast to the tan/grey interior theme.
Why did you choose a SAAB 9-5 for your project?
– I came across this Saab 9-5 Aero wagon for sale and knew I had to get it. I had always thought that Saab’s were so unique and cool. When I went to look at it and do a little research, I found that there weren’t that many Aero wagons for that model year, much less a manual one. I chose it because you don’t see many Saab’s on the road these days, much less a modified one. In my opinion, the way the car makes power, handles, and looks all made it a great base for modifications and I knew I had a great project on my hands.
“I chose it because you don’t see many Saab’s on the road these days, much less a modified one”
What inspired you to choose this modification style?
– I chose this modification style because I wanted to express myself in my own unique way, while keeping it tasteful. Most modified Saab’s I’ve seen had an assortment of OEM-plus parts, or stuff from better-known Saab tuning shops. I wanted something a little more unique, and the parts and designs I chose hopefully reflect that. I wanted it to be classy and a bit understated as a package, but have details that give it a bit of flare, such as the Aerodisc’s up front.
“I wanted it to be classy and a bit understated as a package, but have details that give it a bit of flare, such as the Aerodisc’s up front”
What challenges did you face while putting it together?
– Some of the challenges I faced while building this project was that it’s a Saab, which means that some factory and aftermarket parts were challenging to source. Moreover, the uniqueness of the car also adds to the difficulty of finding OEM and aftermarket parts. Even things like Saab’s bolt pattern on the wheels is 5×110 make it hard to find wheels with that bolt pattern, so initially I had to find some Mercedes-fit wheels (5×112)and adapt them to fit the Saab.
“Some of the challenges I faced while building this project was that it’s a Saab, which means that some factory and aftermarket parts were challenging to source”
What do you love the most about your car?
– One of the things I love most is that it is a wagon, which is a body style that is timeless. I love the torque of the motor – it makes third and fourth-gear pulls an absolute delight. I love that it looks like a nondescript wagon, but when I get on the throttle, soccer vans watch out!!!
“I love that it looks like a nondescript wagon, but when I get on the throttle, soccer vans watch out!!!”
SPECS 2005 Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon (manual transmission)
- KT Racing adjustable coilovers
- Brembo 4-piston calipers
- Goodridge steel-braided lines
- Hawk HPS pads
- Rotiform RSE’s up front with Rotiform Aerodiscs
- ESR wheels in back
- Hankook Ventus V12 Evo 2 tires
- Custom spacers all around
- Custom open-intake
- 3” downpipe with race cat
- Flowmaster exhaust
- Stage 2 tune
- SPEC stage II clutch
- NRG heat sink shift knob and adapter
- Stitchboots custom shift boot
- Braum bucket seats
- Planted technology seat brackets
- Saab Turbo X front lip
- European clear corner lens
- Thule roof rack
Watch the progress and find out more about this stanced SAAB 9-5 wagon by visiting the Instagram profile of the owner: @socaldaji!
Photography by the owner and Chris Melzer Melzercreative.com
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Matt is an automotive writer and journalist with more than 10 years of experience in the field of aftermarket modifications. He enjoys the diversity of the modern European car culture and appreciates it in every aspect.