Fixing a Bad Day: Repairing ‘RED’ after my biggest shunt

Last August was a bad month for “RED”, my 2.1l turbo Trionic 5 Saab 900. We traveled to Summit Point WV for a Time Trial event with PHA (Penna Hill Climb Association).  It was sort of like a hill climb, but without the hill.  Instead, we had the Shenandoah circuit, which is a highly challenging track with all sorts of interesting features. I particularly like the straight-up to the bridge overpass where there is a very steep crest. I can reach about 95-100 mph and get some air, and then brake into a Nurburgring style banked carousel.  Unfortunately the best video I have of this amazing course is from 2017, but here you go!

This year I was conservative, dogging it thru there in the 83-85 mph area all day.  Once I got a little comfortable, I finally stepped it up some. On my last run Saturday, I was pulling 95 on radar and still on the pedal under the bridge… and didn’t lift until past in and over the crest.

I got some air, landed… and felt the car twitch. Suddenly it turned 90 degrees to the left and flat into the concrete “Jersey barriers”.  Hit dead on.  Front bounced out , rotated around and came back in and destroyed the back of the car also. I was just sitting in the car thanking the cage and all the safety gear, especially the HANS device.  This wasn’t the first time RED ended up in the wall at the Summit Point Shenandoah course.  However, that was the worst crash for me and RED, it looked really bad.

People would stop in the pits and say, well I guess you need another car. RED sat on all 4 wheels, and the doors opened with some effort but nothing else looked good. It was a along trip home with lots to think about. At 72 years old do I keep this sh*t up?

Eventually, I found a one-man shop with a “Caroliner” frame rack (Swedish built) and he really wanted to help. RED spent 2 months sitting on the rack and the shop owner worked on it in spare time. I got it back and had to finish the body panels and paint, plus all the mechanical damage. He tweaked the unibody  back  to within 3mm everywhere!

Caroliner Frame Machine

This time I used a DO 88 Intercooler kit from eEuroparts that I was really pleased with. A new Nissens radiator and a used hood and radiator support rounded off the short list. All else was hand straightened.  You can say it buffed out, but obviously it took a lot more work than that.  So I guess the answer to my own question was… yes!

The car looks pretty good from ten feet away, and all the paint was from rattle cans (which can make a great finish with a little wet sanding). So the next story will be the return of Gary & RED to PHA. I know Red still runs hard , but not yet sure about me.

Posted in Motorsports
One thought on “Fixing a Bad Day: Repairing ‘RED’ after my biggest shunt
  1. Kenneth Williams

    Great story and even better ending…Long time SAAB enthusiast and
    was going thru a quite a bit of a rebuild on my talledaga red SAAb 900 myself.
    took me years to find one. Long story short it has been sitting and waiting to get fixed
    and after reading story I’m very inspired to get my car back on the road and I can easily see
    myself fixing on the car and keeping it around for years to come..Luckily I have family members
    N.C. in case I ever need that type shop…Thanks again and keep SAAB’s going.

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