Slippery Swede: 1971 Saab Sonnett III – $11,500
For those enthusiasts who think the term “Good Looking Saab” is an oxymoron, we remind you that quirky made the incredibly slippery and good-looking V4-powered, front-wheel-drive, fiberglass-bodied Sonett in three forms from 1966 through 1974. Featured here is a 1971 Series III example currently listed here on Craigslist in Stockbridge, Massachusetts with an asking price of $11,500. A quick check of the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has their Sonett III priced exactly at the #2 “Excellent” appraisal of $11,500. The private seller hints they are open to offers and possible trades. If you are serious about buying this Saab, you can start the conversation by calling Chris at (413) 717-7551. When you do, please remember to mention you saw their Sonett III featured here on GuysWithRides.com
The Hagerty Insurance Valuation Guide provides a nice synopsis of the very slippery Saab Sonett:
“In the mid-1950s, Roll Mellde designed a Sonett sports car for Saab. The odd name had nothing to do with Shakespeare; the Swedish “Sa natt den ar” reportedly loosely translates to “How cool is that?” Sixten Sason worked on the aluminum sub-frame and floor, and six fiberglass bodied roadsters were built in 1956 and 1957.
U.S. dealers clamored for more, but racing rule changes canceled the project. It was revived in 1967 as the effective Sonett II coupe, with a tilt-nose and an 841-cc, three-cylinder, two-stroke engine. That motor was dropped in order to pass U.S. emissions after just 258 cars were built, and a German-built 1500-cc Ford V4 was substituted. The cars were quite competitive in the U.S., but dealers felt the car would sell even better if it had a facelift.
In 1970, Sergio Coggiola designed the Sonett III, extending the fiberglass body by five inches and streamlining it. He had to use the original floor pan, so Gunnar Sjogren adapted the design to fit. Much better looking, the Sonett III traded advantages and disadvantages with the Sonett II. On the plus side, the rear window now opened up as a hatch. On the minus side, the II’s tilt nose was replaced by a small trap door for engine access, requiring the entire nose to be removed for any major work to be completed.
Over four years, just over 8,000 Sonett IIIs were built. The engine was bumped to 1700 cc in 1971, but emissions regulations kept power at about the same 65 hp. The cars were quite slippery, though, with a low 0.31 cd, and 103 mph was possible with 0-60 mph coming in about 12 seconds. The cars came in some wild colors – lime green, golf yellow, orange, and purple, and the “soccer ball” alloy wheels are handsome. Pop-up headlights were mechanically operated, and a rollbar was incorporated in the design. Black bumpers were fitted for the 1973 and 1974 model years, but do not detract from the overall appearance.
It is estimated that half of Sonett III production survives today, although rust in the floorplan is an issue to be mindful of. As a fiberglass car, electrical grounds can be problematic and wiper motors are impossible to replace without removing the nose. The principal single issue though, revolves around the gearbox’s freewheel gear, which isn’t up to the V4 engine’s torque and can leave one with a “box full of neutrals.” The freewheel was essential for the two-stroke motor, since when the throttle was closed, oil was no longer reaching the cylinders, but it is better removed.
Sonett fans are quite passionate about the cars and many good examples exist. They are quite rewarding to drive, once you’ve adapted to the foibles, and the original ceramic glass-pack mufflers deliver a unique crackle.”
We came across this private in-car video from 2013 providing a feel for what it’s like driving a ’71 Saab Sonett:
The only details we can nitpick about on this Sonett based on the pictures provided are what appear to be faded carpets that likely need replacement and a tidying up of the under dash wiring. Otherwise, this appears to be a nicely mechanically sorted and visually presentable Sonett in a great color combination. Good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s description:
“1971 Saab Sonett v-4 engine 4- speed manual trans .front wheel drive. All new tires, exhaust , waterpump , hoses , wiring . All lights work, horn, heater ,wipers work. Runs and drives excellent 11,500 o,b.o 413-7one7- 755one Chris open to trades.”
Do you have a Saab Sonett story you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know!