Last week I received word that the cage design was done from S&W Race cars. John had sent over the drawings and a general layout of the cage. After a few minor tweaks, we gave him the go ahead and the kit was on their CNC bender by the end of the week. I drove down to their shop the following week, outside Lancaster county in Pennsylvania to pick up the kit and the chassis. The tubing all came pre-bent, notched, numbered and ready to be installed. I was very impressed with the facility and now that the kit has been programmed into their system, they can be duplicated for a very reasonable cost (somewhere in the $600 range for 1 ¾” DOM tubing). If you’re interested in your own cage kit, contact S&W, they have kits already available for several European makes and models.
Saab Powerflex Black Bushings
Before the Saab came back from S&W race cars, we decided to tackle as much of the Saab suspension parts and subframe preparation as possible. We even built a kit with EVERYTHING WE INSTALLED, in case you wanted to go full race on your own Saab 9-3. Of course, replacing all the bushings with Saab OEM parts was an option, since new OE bushings will be considerably stiffer than the worn out ones that came installed. However, since this is to be a dedicated race car, we are going for all out performance. There is only one answer to that, Powerflex. Powerflex not only makes a complete line of high-performance Saab 9-3 parts like polyurethane bushings, they make both street and race versions of almost every bushing and mount. The race versions move you across the line on the comfort/performance spectrum with extreme handling, driver feedback, and consistency being the goal.
When flogging the Saab hard, your subframe bushings flex and move. Subframes are the structural member on most modern cars to which the Saab engine and suspension are bolted. By assembling a Saab this way, the driver enjoys less NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) in the passenger compartment. The Saab parts like the subframe bushings essentially absorb all that engine and road vibration which is why modern cars are so much quieter and comfortable than a standard frame or monocoque chassis car. This also puts another layer of disconnect between the driver and the road.
To minimize this, disconnect, the Powerflex Black Series bushings provide a very stiff bushing that will minimize subframe flex from the chassis and transmit it engine torque and suspension geometry directly to the road. The deflection caused by soft bushings can mess up your Saab’s alignment when you need it most, so for us, Powerflex Black series Saab bushings offered the best solution for no-compromise performance.
Removing Saab Bushings
The practice of removing these bushings is not a subtle one. It generally requires some large hammers, reciprocating saw, hydraulic press and lots of swear words. Helping hands are encouraged as the maneuvering the subframe while extracting the bushings can be tricky. Rest assured that once all the bushings are out, getting the new Saab part; Powerflex bushings in is cake. These urethane bushings can almost be installed entirely by hand, although the last bit usually will require a small Saab part, the C-clamp (shown above) or vice to get the inner sleeve fully seated.
Once we worked around the subframe, the next Saab performance part of concern is the control arm bushings, done in a similar manner. You’ll notice that every set of bushings is more than just a resized version of the same Saab part. That is because each bushing is engineered for that application. Not only for the correct material, but also the allowable movement in the bushing. Sometimes you want the bushing to move freely in one or two directions, but be very limited in others. Other times you want just shock and vibration elimination without movement. This is the key to having consistent handling, which builds driver confidence and faster lap times.
Next week we will tackle the following Saab performance parts; brakes, suspension, and roll cage updates!