Junkyard Gem: 2004 Saab 9-5 Arc Wagon

Murilee Martin


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As I work on my project of documenting automotive history via the machinery I find in car graveyards around the country, blank spots in the junkyard record keep showing themselves. I've remedied the lack of discarded BMW 3- and 5-Series cars in recent months, through the E46 and E39 respectively, and now I'm trying to move past the 900 in the Saab timeline. We've got the 9000 covered, and now it's the turn of the 9-3 and 9-5. Here's an '04 9-5 Arc Wagon, found in a Denver yard recently (I shot a 9-3 on the same trip and you'll see it in the near future).

General Motors took over Saab in 2000, after more than a decade of 50% ownership, and so the 9-5 (or 9⁵ if you prefer) had plenty of Opel/Holden/Vauxhall DNA in its cells. Its closest American-market relative (other than the 9-3) was the Saturn L-Series.

However, you couldn't get a Saturn with a proper Saab engine under the hood, and by "proper" we mean one descended from the original Triumph Slant-4. This 2.3T turbocharged version sent 220 horsepower to the front wheels, making this a nicely quick wagon.

It appears that this car endured some lean times as it approached the end of its road, with the kind of leaky-side-glass repair you do only when you know you're a car's final owner.

You could get the 9-5 Wagon as the Linear, Arc, or Aero models in 2004. The Aero was the factory-hot-rod version, while the Arc was more about luxury. The leather seats in this Arc still look pretty good.

Even though this car's ancestry is more German than Swedish, it has the traditional Saab console-mounted ignition switch. When it came time for The General to sell Subaru Imprezas with Saab badging, however, the ignition switches stayed in the non-Saab locations. At least the Saab-badged Chevy Trailblazer had the switch in the Trollhätten-approved location.

It doesn't look as quirky as the early Saabs, which were born from Flying Barrels, but it stood up well against the competing cars offered to America's ever-shrinking pool of station wagon shoppers.

Built in Sweden by Swedes!

Would this have happened with an Audi wagon?