DNA Col­lectibles Saab 9-3 Viggen Con­vert­ible

Swan Song for the Swedish Sport Coupe

Die Cast X - - 48 -

Here’s the very first model we’ve seen from the new diecast com­pany on the scene. How of­ten do we get to say that? It’s called DNA Col­lectibles, and it’s based in Switzer­land. The com­pany does sealed resin-cast mod­els in 1:43 and 1:18. So far, it has tended to fo­cus on—log­i­cally enough—Euro­pean makes and on mod­els from the last 25 years or so. This genre is be­com­ing more com­mon in diecast as the next gen­er­a­tion of col­lec­tors starts wax­ing nos­tal­gic for the cars they grew up ad­mir­ing.

What we have here is the Saab 9-3 Viggen—con­sid­ered by many to be the last true Saab—be­fore GM took over (and even­tu­ally smoth­ered the brand!). It was in pro­duc­tion from 1999 through 2002, and at the time, the Viggen was con­sid­ered some­thing of a throw­back—its 5-door hatch body and rau­cous tur­bocharged 4-cylin­der driv­ing the front wheels were con­sid­ered less so­phis­ti­cated than many of its com­pe­ti­tion. It was a le­git­i­mate per­former, though; its 230hp and boat­load of turbo torque was enough to keep pace with any of the slick Ger­man or Ja­panese class com­pe­ti­tion. Iron­i­cally, the years have shown the 9-3 was per­haps ahead of its time, as many of those com­pet­ing brands have come back around to tur­bocharged 4-cylin­der power, and fun front-wheel-drive fac­tory-spe­cial hot hatches like the VW GTI, Ford Fo­cus ST, and new Honda Civic Type R def­i­nitely fol­low in the Viggen’s foot­steps.

This is the first model from DNA I’ve ex­am­ined in per­son, and from the out­set, the pack­ag­ing is quirky but classy and very prac­ti­cal—kinda like the Viggen! It comes in a slick draw­string bag to pro­tect the in­ner box, which is nice but rather non­de­script. In­side that, you might be ex­pect­ing a dec­o­rated in­ner box, but nope! In­stead, it is just foam sur­round­ing the model it­self. This is the con­vert­ible ver­sion of the Viggen—not the hatch­back most of us think of. This is wel­come for two rea­sons. First, the two-door drop­top is more stylish than the slightly hunch­backed 5-door, and sec­ond, it af­fords a much bet­ter look at the in­te­rior. It presents one pack­ag­ing dif­fi­culty, though. The car is de­liv­ered with an op­tional con­vert­ible up-top panel, se­cured on the body with plas­tic tie-down straps and cen­tered with two tiny tabs on the bot­tom rear edge of the panel. The top on our sam­ple shifted dur­ing ship­ping, break­ing off one of the cen­ter­ing tabs and al­low­ing the top to rattle around in the box. Luck­ily, it caused no dam­age to the model it­self, but DNA would be wise to ship fu­ture con­vert­ibles with the roof panel re­moved and se­cured in a side com­part­ment in the box. Most col­lec­tors won’t end up us­ing it—the Viggen is more hand­some with the top down—but it’s nice that DNA in­cluded the op­tion. While we’re dis­cussing pack­ag­ing, note that DNA de­liv­ers the car mounted on a clear acrylic base. It’s cool look­ing, but to pro­tect it, DNA wraps the whole thing in a cling wrap so that you ac­tu­ally have to re­move the car from the base to get the wrap off—not su­per prac­ti­cal.

Pack­ag­ing is­sues aside, the model it­self is gor­geous. A word about the color: It’s called “Light­ning Blue,” and among Saab en­thu­si­asts, it is highly prized. It was only of­fered on Viggen con­vert­ibles for a sin­gle

The two-tone matte black and satin blue in­te­rior has a lot of char­ac­ter, and the dash has a lot of de­tail in the in­stru­ments and switchgear.

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