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Old 03-04-2019, 09:44 AM   #1
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1995 9000 Aero

Hey guys,

As my 9000's engine rebuild is now complete and it will be back on the road soon as this winter weather passes, I wanted to get some photos up and give a bit of the car's backstory.

It all started about 8 years ago with text from my buddy Kip about a different car. A mutual friend had sold his 400hp black/black 1995 TCS 9000 Aero to a kid in Springfield, MA the year before. It had 200k miles, but it was a beast: Custom SQR tune, NA 9000 transmission (for lower gearing), LSD and a beautifully fabricated half race cage in the back seat. He had used it for autocross and ice racing in a modified class with studded Menard tires, which is what necessitated the race cage. The kid he sold it to was a real yahoo who street raced it till the transmission died. My friend agreed to a transmission swap if he could keep the LSD. After that, the kid's negligence almost killed the entire car, but he decided to sell it at a loss before that happened.

I snapped it up for $1,500. It needed all brakes all around, drive shafts, new exhaust hangers and a front bumper/spoiler. It had rust in the rear, which I was not aware of...yet. At the time, it was the fastest car I'd ever driven. For a car that, its been said could be mistaken for a 90's Pontiac, it certainly got a lot of attention from wannabe racer-boys who heard the exhaust and saw the race cage. The race cage was a great conversation piece and my in-laws didn't seem to mind too much when forced to ride in the back. Sure that crossbar took up their shoulder room, but I like to think it made them feel that much more secure.

The car was totaled in a crash summer 2011. Sitting at a stoplight, I was hit in the rear at 15-20mph. Remember that rust I mentioned? It should have been a minor repair, but there was enough rust at the rear shock mounts, in the trunk floor and all around the wheel wells, that the rear end completely folded in on itself. All engine parts were good, so I bought an identical Aero with low mileage to put all the go fast stuff in.

Below are pics of my previous 1995 9000 Aero
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__________________
1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 03-04-2019, 09:56 AM   #2
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The New 1995 Aero

The new car was an 87k mile 1995 TCS Aero, with no rust, a perfect interior, rebuilt transmission, 1k mile TD04, but a bad engine. The seller was a BMW fanboy attracted to the cheap power of a turbo SAAB. He put in a new turbo and before the first oil change, had spun the bearings. The car sat in a NJ repair shop parking lot for a couple years until he finally listed it for sale. I picked it up for a song and had it shipped up to Suffield, CT where I spent the next several weekends swapping over the engine and all performance hardware. While the engine was out, I should have done the head gasket, replaced all the head/valve seals and re-sealed the timing cover, but I was in a hurry as it was my daily driver. I would regret that later.

The car ran great for several thousand miles before it developed a hard brake pedal, symptomatic of a bad ABS pump. The difficulty of the repair, along with how scarce 1995 TCS pump assemblies are, made this the perfect opportunity to delete the TCS entirely. Jordan at eEuro took on the job using my parts car 1995 CSE as the donor for the TCS part replacements. It was straightforward enough; the only real custom fabrication being the rear brake’s hard lines to the new non-TCS ABS pump. IIRC, the non-TCS pump has only 3 lines (1 for each front and 1 shared by the rear), whereas the TCS pump has 4. Some splicing and custom connections were needed. Not long after getting the car back on the road though, there was some smoke from the exhaust at idle and under deceleration.

I thought it was the turbo or the headgasket but, while the main culprits were the valve guide seals, the truth is that it was a tired old engine that had been working very hard for a long time. It took me a while to come to that realization though, so I ran through all the items I hoped it would be; all vacuum hoses, EGR pipes and checkvalves were replaced and the 19T TD04 was swapped-out for the 1k mile stock TD04. None of it worked. A good friend of Kip’s is a mechanic with a shop in Bloomfield and he offered to rebuild the top half of the engine and do whatever it took to get the engine/car back in fighting shape. He’s a professional great guy, photographer and race-car builder who has taken his time with the overhaul and gone a lot more in-depth than either of us originally planned, but he has given the engine and car the love that it deserves. New bearings, piston rings, valve lapping, a bit of porting/polishing and a balance shaft delete are just a few of the enhancements made to the low-mile B234R engine currently being broken-in. I will post more build details and photos once I get the car back.

Pics below show a few glimpses of my engine swap 8 years ago and how the car looked last year before the current overhaul.
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1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 03-04-2019, 10:04 AM   #3
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Interior Pictures

If I had bought the car for the seats alone, it would have been worth it.
Attached Images
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__________________
1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:24 AM   #4
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That car is gorgeous, congratulations on having it back on the road soon. I'm itching to get mine back on the road for the season.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:18 PM   #5
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You've got some bitching cars man. Those seats look mint!
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Old 03-06-2019, 04:20 AM   #6
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This thing is great all around! Nice work!
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Old 03-06-2019, 04:21 AM   #7
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Great Looking aero, nice job saving it! Hope you can enjoy it for many years to come!
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:07 PM   #8
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Update

Thanks for all the compliments guys!

I've never been one to name my cars and, while I'm not about to start now, this one has been kind of my Beautiful Disaster. It represents well on the inside & out and is heavenly to drive when healthy, but due to one debilitating ailment after another, I haven't been able to experience much of that joy. Happy to report that it all came back together.

A little more background before the progress photos. There were many issues to address before it could go back together and a lot of sorting between the two engines, to ensure only the good stuff went back into the car.

The engine bay was a greasy disaster. Most rubber hoses were dry rotted, distorted or soaked in oil and prone to failure. The crank position sensor wiring was destroyed and so were the ABS wires to the front hubs. Every hose was replaced, along with the crank position sensor, wires and ABS sensors. The CV boots got replaced and re-greased.
Other items dealt with included a lower ball joint on the passenger side, a leaky radiator fitting, replacement coolant tank & sensor and a seized rear brake caliper was replaced with a new one. It also got a new cone filter as the mesh of the old one had begun to rust. The regular exhaust hangers had rusted in the years it had been off the road and stored outside, and so new mounts were welded on and painted.

The ‘rebuilt’ turbo was kind of a mess. It looked like someone put new stuff in it but there were some issues; it was leaking oil into the exhaust side, the center housing had significant scoring in the bearing recesses and showed sign of thrust bearing failure. Probably why it had to be rebuilt. The turbo was rebuilt properly this time.
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__________________
1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:45 PM   #9
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Progress

Just sharing some more notes from John and me, reflecting on the build. Again, I can't take credit for this last round of work done on the car; this was all John with some help from Kip Moncrief and Kyle Carissimi. A heartfelt thank you to those guys for their tireless efforts and boundless ingenuity! I am forever indebted.

These are just a few of the progress pics from my phone. What you see includes the lapping of the valves and the assembly of the head. Also there is a block off plate for the oil feed to the balance shaft tensioner for the deletion of the balance shaft chain, which I understand is a weak spot in higher performance engines.

My mechanic friend John did a solid rebuild of the long block with the new bearings, pistons, rings and balance shaft delete; he gapped the piston rings to a little more than 3/4 of their maximum gap, matched across every cylinder.

He put about 200 miles on it, the week before I picked it up, to break in the new engine and make sure everything is good. It’s got special oil in it that helps the piston rings seat properly in the cylinder bore. The oil light was flickering a bit at idle, which I assured John was due to the lightened flywheel’s low rotational mass failing to keep idle above 800rpm when the AC compressor or high-speed fan kicks on. Just to be safe, he pulled the side of the engine apart and confirmed everything was within tolerance.

For the next 1,000-2,000 miles the previous ECU tune (allowing for 22psi+ in all gears) was substituted by a much safer modified stage 3 tune. The new tune limits boost to about 8psi in 1st gear, 11psi in 2nd and 14psi in 3rd through 5th. For the next 1,000-2,000 miles, or until my first oil change, I will run this tune, keep the car below 10psi and never go above 4,500rpm. After the engine is safely broken-in, I may go back to a modified stage 5 somewhere in the 350bhp range. We also installed a T7 BPC and tuned the ECU to work with it.

The only immediate issue was that it seemed to have a mis-fire under wide-open throttle high boost in third gear. Swapping in an OEM DI Cassette for the Pro-Parts unit, cured the problem.

The final list for work done to the car:
All seals and gaskets
New headgasket including machining the head surface
new timing chain and guides
balance shaft chain delete and installation of eEuro delete kit
new valve stem seals
all valves hand lapped into their seats
cylinders measured and honed to restore cross hatch
pistons cleaned and all oil passages clearanced
piston rings gapped to about 75% of max (for performance applications)
crankshaft was mic'ed and polished and new standard bearings were installed
new oem water pump
new spark plugs
new air filter
new stock oil pressure switch
new coolant temp sensor
new coolant level sensor
new o2 sensor
new crank position sensor
new voltage regulator (bosch oem)
new serpentine belt
new serp belt tensioner and idler pulleys
oil pump inspected, measured and installed with new o-ring
fuel injector o-rings
new 82deg thermostat
new coolant hoses
new coolant expansion tank
new hose clamps throughout
new DI cassette
T7 boost control solenoid
td04 rebuild with new bearings and seal and new used center section
oil cooler and intercooler were foam and steam cleaned
30w Brad Penn Break in Engine oil and new filter

The fabrication list:
-The old engine came out with the full front subframe for cleaning and inspection
-New lower ball joint installed on passenger side (found a new one in your trunk)
-AC condenser: new mounts were fabricated for proper locating
-New sway bar endlink kit installed and sway bar removed, cleaned and painted due to rust
-Sway bar bushings lubricated
-3” exhaust system was held on mostly with stretched rubber hangers and bailing wire - John fabricated new center mount and rear mounts, replaced wire with proper rubber mounts, cut the exhaust just after the flex pipe for easy removal of the downpipe and installed a 3 inch stainless steel band clamp
-The air filter hangs out in the fender well without any kind of splash protection so I fabricated a simple sheet metal splash guard
-There were many broken wires and connectors in the wiring harness so those were rewired with new connectors and proper insulation
-Headlight relay was intermittent so i replaced it with one found in your stash of parts
-Left rear caliper was completely seized new one was installed and bled
-Front rotors were turned because of rust and uneven surface

Kyle Carissimi went through the ecu and cleaned up the tune; somewhere along the line, unbeknownst to me, the SQR custom stage 5+ tune was deleted and replaced with a poorly modified stage 3 tune in it, allowing maximum boost in all gears. It now has a better stage 3 tune. The car did not have a t7 boost control solenoid, nor did it have an OEM DI cassette. It did have the 3 inch exhaust, green injectors, big intercooler, and free flowing air filter. It is boost limited in first and second gears to about 7lbs, to help save the transmission. It should boost to about 20 psi after that. Kyle set up the boost ramp on the conservative side for reliability and longevity.

It still has some odd electrical gremlins:
-The headlight relay was intermittent, so it was replaced with a better used one, but occasionally only 1 high beam works. May just have to spray every connection with electrical cleaner.
-Still need to figure out the interior dash lighting. I have 2-3 known good dimmer rheostats, but they each seem to work for 20-40 seconds or until I hit a bump before turning off. When I plug in the rheostat, with the lights and ignition on, nothing will happen until I turn the headlight switch from headlights to parking lights. Then the interior dash lights come on and stay on even when switching back to headlights…but only for 20-40 seconds or course. Might this problem be not with the rheostat or wiring but with another relay behind the passenger airbag? Has anyone found success bypassing the rheostat altogether? I’d really like to try this, or purchase a bypass part someone has fabricated.
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__________________
1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:52 PM   #10
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Back In Town

Nice to see this outside my door every morning. Its been a long time.
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1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-17-2019, 05:39 AM   #11
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Wow, this is a really cool project. You don't see many people doing this kind of stuff to 9000's anymore. I'm really excited to see it. Looks like some solid work. I can't wait to rebuild the motors in my 9000's once I wrap up school. Keep up the good work! Look forward to more pictures and updates.

Regarding the headlight issue - I'm 90% sure that the 9000 uses the orange headlight relay. They are a known issue causing non-functional beams. I resoldered the joints inside the relay and that fixed my issues on my 9-5.

Doing a quick search, apparently the bigger rectangular headlight relay also has similar issues with the same solution.

Here's a write-up:

How to repair the headlight beam control relay
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-1992 9000
-1994 9000 Aero
-2002 9-5 Linear
-2006 Explorer Eddie Bauer
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Old 04-18-2019, 11:54 AM   #12
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Wheels

Thanks for the insight and providing that link! I will definitely reference that when diving back into this issue.

Jon, can you remind me what springs you're running on your 9000? Seeing your A-Types on your 9000 inspired me. I'm dropping mine off at the refinisher tomorrow morning. They estimate it should take about a week. One has a slight flat spot on the outside rim, but I've been assured they can make it ALMOST completely disappear. Cautiously optimistic here; I supposed I'll be happy as long as they don't make things worse and the machined lip clearcoat lasts 3-5 years.
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1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-19-2019, 07:15 AM   #13
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97,000 miles

Just passed 97,000 miles; putting on about 100mi per week, shuttling kids to daycare, commuting to work and then back again. My son loves it. Its smooth, comfortable, quiet (relative to the Troll) and plenty quick.

Things that worked in 2017 that no longer do:
1. The AC doesn't work.
2. The heat is intermittent. Not sure if this is a blend door issue, but the ACC test displays "0" issues. Looking inside the aquarium, I can see the blend door is attached to the actuator, but it doesn't seem to move when pushing buttons on the ACC. Sometimes the heat comes on by itself after 20-40 minutes of driving and sometimes it seems completely unrelated to time, like I hit a bump and it comes on.
3. Theres an issue with the idle whenever the accelerator is touched or at any speed above 1mph. Sometimes it will surge between 1,000-2,000 rpm for a brief period, but will then return and rest at 900 rpm. This wouldn't bother me except for driving in traffic or slowing to a stop, because the car starts bucking like a bronco whenever revs approach 1,700 rpm. Sticky IAC valve? Anyone have a good used one for sale or have a line on a new one online?
Attached Images
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1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-22-2019, 06:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daven View Post
Thanks for the insight and providing that link! I will definitely reference that when diving back into this issue.

Jon, can you remind me what springs you're running on your 9000? Seeing your A-Types on your 9000 inspired me. I'm dropping mine off at the refinisher tomorrow morning. They estimate it should take about a week. One has a slight flat spot on the outside rim, but I've been assured they can make it ALMOST completely disappear. Cautiously optimistic here; I supposed I'll be happy as long as they don't make things worse and the machined lip clearcoat lasts 3-5 years.
I am running stock Aero springs in the rear currently. I was running B&G with the SAS spring spacers, but I had aggressive rubbing issues. I still have rubbing issues with the stock springs, but only when I have passengers in the rear. I am also running really big tires. (235/45/17) I'm not a fan of the "stretched" look. I used online calculators with my tire size and I was confident they wouldn't rub. But they definitely do.

Woah. I didn't realize you had the same Spec wheels as I do. Are they 4x108??
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Last edited by Troup; 04-22-2019 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:20 AM   #15
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Interior Pictures

Yep, same as yours! 4x108 is hard to come by, so I snapped these up 5 years ago, about an hour after J-Rod listed them on SC. Excited to see them refinished. The wheel shop tried to convince me polished lip was the way to go, but that's too flashy and high-maintenance for me.

I found my last pair of SAS spring spacers, which I'll throw-in if the rubbing proves to be an issue. Don't expect it to be though; my little ones weigh about 20 and 40lbs plus car seats.

On Friday I installed a new radio on my lunch break. Its the Panasonic DEH-X8800BHS, which is break from the brand loyalty I've had for Alpine these last 15 years. Even though Alpines never allowed adjustment of the button/display colors, to match the green & orange SAAB dash lights, their quality reliability and adjustability seemed second to none. This new Panasonic allows tremendous tunability, with even more EQ adjustment through an app you download to your smartphone. Took out the old Alpine, wired this new one and tuned it all in under 1.5 hours.

To all the purists (perhaps 5 of the 50 Saablink readers?) out there who prefer the look of the original Clarion and HK head units, please believe I kept it in there as long as possible. I killed 3 HK amps over 3 years (the last time almost left me deaf), but ultimately the inability to cleanly hardwire an AUX in connection, drove me to an aftermarket unit. All things considered, I think this Panasonic looks alright.

I'm debating which way to go with my VDO gauges. You can see how the factory black painted bezel is scratched in a number of places, so I scrubbed one clean and actually really like the way the bare brass looks.
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__________________
1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:22 AM   #16
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Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, I'm still running the stock ( HK speaker setup and they still sound terrific.

For the front, I have an Alpine 2ch amp sending 2x75w rms to the drivers while the tweeters are fed 20w rms by the amp in the radio.
For the rear, I have an Aura 2ch amp sending 2x150w rms to the drivers while the tweeters are fed 20w rms by the amp in the radio.
For the boxed subs (not installed), I have an Alpine 1200w rms mono-amp. Its a ported box with (2) Infinity Kappa 12" subs, but weighs a ton and takes up a lot of space, so it may never get reinstalled.

I have some extremely powerful 4" and 6x9" Focal speakers, new in box, that I've been waiting a few years to install, but I may not need to; the tunability of this new radio really exploits the full potential of these incredibly competent 24 year old HK speakers.
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1987 900 turbo convertible
1993 900 Commemorative Edition #50
1995 9000 Aero - Stage 3
1996 900 troll
2002 9-3 Viggen vert - Stage 4
2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:50 AM   #17
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Yep, same as yours! 4x108 is hard to come by, so I snapped these up 5 years ago, about an hour after J-Rod listed them on SC. Excited to see them refinished. The wheel shop tried to convince me polished lip was the way to go, but that's too flashy and high-maintenance for me.

I found my last pair of SAS spring spacers, which I'll throw-in if the rubbing proves to be an issue. Don't expect it to be though; my little ones weigh about 20 and 40lbs plus car seats.

Wow, I never thought they made this size in 4x108. Mine were filled and drilled. I stand corrected. I ended up polishing my lips, but they'll look amazing machined as well. What tire size are you going to run?


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To all the purists (perhaps 5 of the 50 Saablink readers?) out there who prefer the look of the original Clarion and HK head units, please believe I kept it in there as long as possible.

Haha, I hear that. I'm all about the car looking original, but music functionality is one thing I won't compromise on. I needed my Bluetooth.

Interested in your audio modifications. I really want to run a different amplifier in my 9-5 wagon, but I'm not sure of the best combination to run. I'm out of my wheelhouse when it comes to matching speakers with amps, etc. I have 6 speakers to power and a 6.5 inch sub.

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I'm debating which way to go with my VDO gauges. You can see how the factory black painted bezel is scratched in a number of places, so I scrubbed one clean and actually really like the way the bare brass looks.
I dig the black bezel / surround myself.
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-1992 9000
-1994 9000 Aero
-2002 9-5 Linear
-2006 Explorer Eddie Bauer

Last edited by Troup; 04-23-2019 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 04-30-2019, 08:31 AM   #18
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Wheels Are Done

So, my wheels really ARE the same as yours Jon; they were drilled and filled professionally one or two owners before me. I never even noticed before installing them today.

Very happy with how these came out. Went to a place called Perfect Metal in Newark, NJ. Very friendly people and honest, straight-shooters. Not much of a front office or website to speak of, but they do great work and its inexpensive relative to the other places in the tri-state area. Pretty sure those other places outsource the actual refinishing to this place, because several "wheel repair" company trucks were in and out both times I was there.

While I'm not usually a fan of stretched tires either, I thought there'd be too much rubbing with 235s. I went with the Goodyear Eagle Sport AS in 225/45/17. They're well-reviewed on Tire Rack and I like the tread pattern. I only have about 50 miles on them so far, but they ride beautifully.
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2004 9-5 Aero Wagon
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Old 04-30-2019, 02:24 PM   #19
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That looks pretty damn good!
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:29 AM   #20
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Those will always be one of my favorite wheels on a 9k. Looks great!
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