Home » Sun-Loving Swedes: 2008 Saab 9-3 vs 2008 Volvo C70

Sun-Loving Swedes: 2008 Saab 9-3 vs 2008 Volvo C70

Sbsd 052224
ADVERTISEMENT

Welcome back! I’m still on the road, and I found today’s contestants while bumping along through construction on the Ohio Turnpike (don’t worry; I wasn’t the one driving). I found a Swedish convertible, and, hey look at that, a Swedish convertible!

Yesterday’s Iowa projects kind of surprised me. I expected that Thunderbird to go down in flames, and in fact it lost, but it actually put up a decent fight. Is it just that the Beetle is non-operational? Forty-one percent of you can’t actually like that thing, can you?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I try to be as impartial as I can when presenting cars and find something nice to say about each of them, but now that this particular showdown is in the record books, I can be forthright about that Thunderbird: It’s an abomination. It’s hideous. And it’s ridiculous that someone put that much effort into making a common six-cylinder T-Bird look that ugly.

Screenshot 2024 05 22 8.38.19 Pm

Moving on: By 2008, Sweden’s two best-known automakers, Saab and Volvo, were owned by GM and Ford, respectively. But both parent companies were wise enough to let the marques do their own thing; these could easily have been re-bodied Fusions and Malibus. Fortunately, they’re not; they’re cool, classy drop-tops that have slid far enough down the depreciation curve to be attainable by the likes of us. Let’s check them out.

ADVERTISEMENT

2008 Saab 9-3 Convertible – $4,500

01313 Bundvxxzjtx 0ci0t2 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Kingston, PA

Odometer reading: 125,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives great

ADVERTISEMENT

All right; what I said before about corporate non-interference doesn’t quite apply to this car. It shares no parts with the Saabs of old; it’s based on GM’s Epsilon platform, and powered by a version of GM’s Ecotec engine. But it’s still a Saab at heart. The ignition switch is in the center console behind the shifter, and it still has those wonderful Saab ergonomics. Sadly, you’ll have to take my word for it, because this is the only photo we get of this car’s interior:

01111 H17hjpfje74 0t20ci 1200x900

The seller says it runs and drives great, and has had “recent maintenance work done,” but doesn’t elaborate on what. There aren’t a whole lot of details in this ad, actually. But we do get this nice artsy night shot with the top down, so obviously the top works fine:

00a0a 6qcayao0epn 0ci0t2 1200x900

From what I can see, it’s in good condition outside, but since it’s a Pennsylvania car, you’d be wise to check for rust underneath. Ordinarily, I’d say “It’s a convertible; it has never seen salt,” but Saabs are really good in the snow.

ADVERTISEMENT

2008 Volvo C70 – $4,200

00707 3yhrh4h4ska 0x20om 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.5 liter dual overhead cam inline 5, six-speed manual, FWD

Location: Orion Township, MI

Odometer reading: 99,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well, but has some issues

ADVERTISEMENT

Over on the Ford/Volvo side of things, we have this second-generation C70, which unlike its predecessor came only as a retractable hardtop convertible. The top was developed with Webasto, famous for sunroofs, and manufactured by Pininfarina, famous for some of the most beautiful cars ever made. The result is one of very few convertibles, hard- or soft-topped, that looks good with the top up as well as down.

00o0o 9mfecdtkxzk 0x20om 1200x900

The C70 is based on the same platform as the S40 sedan and is powered by Volvo’s transverse inline five-cylinder engine. Both turbocharged and naturally-aspirated versions were available; this being a T5 model, it has the turbo, as well as a six-speed manual transmission. Sporty stuff, especially from typically frumpy Volvo.

00k0k Hajzewpipqg 0lm0t2 1200x900

The seller says it runs and drives well, but the check-engine light is on, and the car makes a whirring noise after it warms up. The seller thinks it’s a belt, but that doesn’t sound right to me. Maybe a bad bearing in an idler pulley, but that wouldn’t set off a CEL. Or maybe the two aren’t related.

ADVERTISEMENT

00t0t Lmll5cftppd 0x20om 1200x900

They do say that everything works, including the complex power top mechanism, so that’s encouraging. It looks pretty clean both inside and out, and it hardly has any miles on it. But it’s a Detroit car; as with the Saab, a check for rust underneath is warranted.

Neither Saab nor Volvo is owned by American companies anymore; Volvo is part of Geely, and Saab no longer exists. The cars, however, endure, and in the case of these two, thrive. Neither one is perfect, but neither one is a wreck either. The choice is yours.

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
70 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
30 days ago

I just can’t nor vote for a SAAB,but either would be fine.

Timothy Swanson
Timothy Swanson
30 days ago

Man, choices. Sadly, both are one of the 50 shades of grey, rather than an actual color, so that’s a wash. On the one hand, fully functional and the Ecotec 4s are solid enough. On the other, unknown issues, but a quirky yet reputable 5. I’m going to go with the manual transmission as the tie breaker, even if the Saab is better looking.

SurvivedAPintoCrash
SurvivedAPintoCrash
30 days ago
Stephen Reed
Stephen Reed
30 days ago

I have always wanted a hard top convertible. The Volvo being that along with a five cylinder and a manual means it gets my vote with ease.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
28 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Reed

I find that a hardtop convertible is more of a pain than a benefit.
After renting a 3 Series – I bought my CLK.
The soft roof is just easier to live with when using the trunk.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
30 days ago

It’s probably a good thing (for me) that the Volvo ad has been taken down.

I know nothing about troubleshooting Volvo noises and CELs, but finding a manual C70 Convertible at that price is so rare that I don’t even care that Volvo’s version of silver is the most boring color ever.

Last edited 30 days ago by PaysOutAllNight
Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 month ago

I cannot believe I voted against a Saab, but here we are. Had this been a pre-GM 900, it would have been a different story. Of course, that Saab would have been a lot more than $4,500.

That Volvo looks pretty solid (pre-rust inspection, of course), and the manual is a bonus. We’ll take the C70.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 month ago

Gonna have to go w/ the Saab (story) which is that it’s an auto. I still just like it better than that Volvo which is still too boring/bland even though it has the stick, etc

DDayJ
DDayJ
1 month ago

I picked the Volvo for the stick, but I like both of these. I owned an Epsilon 9-3 with a 5 speed and it was a great car, super comfy seats. The interior was an enraging combo of great fit and finish coupled with atrocious component quality though. Sometimes the shifter knob would pop off when the interior got hot in the summer heat. There was a little spring under it which I think aided the ring you would pull up to allow it to engage reverse if my memory serves me right.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 month ago

I like Saabs, but I’ve often thought about trying to find a C70. The previous gen was a good looking car too. Never realized they even came with a manual.

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 month ago

As long as all the windows go up the Volvo has it for me

Kyree
Kyree
1 month ago

The Volvo T5 is basically bullet-proof. And it has a manual, on top of that? Sign me up.

JDE
JDE
1 month ago

probably the biggest detractor for the C70 is the microswitches for that top. I think I would probably try it though. I do like the inline 5’s and manual trans, also longevity from leaks of the hardtop vert.

Drew
Drew
1 month ago

I’m a sucker for a retractable hardtop. I know it adds complexity, but I still want it.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago

Tough choice, but I think the 2.5T in the Volvo would be fun with the stick. That’s really a great motor, I have on in my XC70 and love it.

Luca
Luca
1 month ago

I’m a died in the wool Saab guy and as much I love a late model 9-3, a C70 T5 is a really fantastic ride. Family has one, they’re rev-happy, comfortable little things – if you can put up with the blind spots.

The roof on fam’s has been the least troublesome part of it. Spending a good part of my teenage years in the backseat (as a 6ft beanpole even!), I think it’s a stronger choice.

Quick edit: completely passed up that the Volvo has a stick. They’re a blast with the auto; with a stick that’s a find.

Last edited 1 month ago by Luca
El Jefe de Barbacoa
El Jefe de Barbacoa
1 month ago
Reply to  Luca

*dyed in the wool

Luca
Luca
30 days ago

🙁

Last edited 30 days ago by Luca
Luddy Ludwick
Luddy Ludwick
1 month ago

I own two Saabs, but I think the Volvo is the play here on account of the stick. The 9-3 is a good platform, and the 08s are very reliable (I have an 04…there are some wiring issues). The Ecotec is very reliable if you take care of regular maintenance. The water pump will eventually need to be done, but it’s easy work for a shop.

The parts availability stuff is WAAAAY overblown. There are a ton of good online vendors, and parts are easy to come by for everything except the NG 9-5 (but you can even make some Buick parts work on it).

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Assuming you can inspect and the issues present appear minor, the Volvo is the one to get. I love Saabs but unless you are a diehard for the brand ownership is getting to be more and more difficult and not worth the hassles. And Volvos from this era are quite good.

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago

Volvo’s S40, V50 and C70 share a platform with the second-generation Focus, which Ford skipped in the US, and the first-generation Mazda 3. I loved my first-generation Mazda 3, so this is difficult, but I’ve always liked Saab’s stylish anti-style that they managed to retain up to the end, and if the C70 loses all its trunk space with the top down, then no topless (for the car, anyway) Costco runs. Also, Scranton’s much closer than Detroit and the Volvo’s ad has been pulled, so I guess it was the better choice. Saab it is.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago

Saab. It’s GM mechanical bits which aren’t hard to source. The Saab specific stuff is harder. For making a sleeper convertible the auto Saab keeping boost during shifts is hard to beat.

Griznant
Griznant
1 month ago

My parents owned an ’06 9-3 Aero convertible (turbo V6). It was nice, but boring. That Volvo will have more soul with the 5-cylinder and stick so I’m picking that believing I can fix whatever “whirrs” beneath the bonnet.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

Volvo for me because of the manual, lower mileage and it’s not an orphan like the Saab is.

William Sheldon
William Sheldon
1 month ago

those m66 manual c70’s are pretty rare, no? i used to think that only auto c70’s came over to freedomland but perhaps i was (happily) wrong! or maybe the car was the recipient of a manual swap? who knows!
fun-ish conv that can also cart the kids around and not be super loud on the hwy for less than $5k? win

FrontWillDrive
FrontWillDrive
1 month ago

I like the 9-3, but I want the C70, being a six speed just sweetens the deal.

70
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x