Cold Start: Sing Me A Sonett


So our own David Tracy has succumbed once again to Sonett Fever, and has found one for sale that might be too rusty (I know, I know) but might be pretty good. Maybe we’ll go look at it. I’m not sure how this may end up – nobody get their hopes up – but just be aware that Saab Sonnets exist and are fantastic little V4-powered wedgy beasts.

Also, there used to be a Sonett just like this one that was parked at the Yerkes Primate Research Center when I worked there as a student, as a bioelectronics engineering assistant. One day I’ll tell you about the Simian Ejaculatron and the Yam Incident.

One day.

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47 Responses

  1. I wanted one back in the early 80’s. There was one a couple blocks away for not much $$

    Fast forward to a couple years ago I decided to look at them again. Found two that the guy had dragged out of the woods. No Floors. Not David Tracy rust laced floors with holes, but no floors, no trunk floors. a complete empty space between the frame rails. Found another one in seemingly decent condition, I went down the rust rabbit hole and this one looked not to bad. Like other tall guys discover that no I do not fit.

  2. I’m just 6′ 2″ and during my earlier stages of SAABophilia, I found one of these locally somehow. It was a true project car in every sense of the word, but it was all there. Anyway, I had an opportunity to sit in it and, at my size, it was just Those things make Miatas look spacious. It’s essentially a road legal go-kart. What a sick sense of humor the Swedes have to build something like this, that’s so incompatible with the vertically-gifted.

    1. When the Sonett III came out I loved the way it looked and all the typical Saab quirkiness. Then finally I got to see one in person and while still loving the look, was shocked at how small the car was, kind of like I was the first time I got to see an Opel GT. Do they make them in small, medium and large? I’m 6’3″ and this is an auto frustration for life. Why are some of the coolest cars made only for those of petite size? Do they think they are the only people who have money to buy these?

  3. Torch, I’m shocked.

    You’re not going to say anything about the headlights in the bumper plus the flip-ups? The round, convex turn signals? The two-tone front reflector/turn signal combo? The Sonett III’s tri-color five element tail lights that incorporated the reflector? The earlier Sonett’s split amber/red round combination turn signal/brake light?

    1. The lamps behind the grille are supposed to be driving lights, although it is true that some owners have put headlights there instead, sometimes going so far as to eliminate the pop-ups entirely.

    1. Where are you guys seeing it as “not rusty”. I thought it was supposedly too rusty by this statement:

      “…and has found one for sale that might be too rusty (I know, I know) but might be pretty good.”

      What am I missing here? The picture? I doubt that’s the actual car they’re looking at.

    1. When I had my Sonett V4 (the version that looks almost entirely like a Sonett II but with a V4 instead of a two-stroke), I heard “Nice Opel!” far more often than anything else, correct identifications included.

      1. The important thing is to be prepared to claim and defend the position that whatever model one owns is the last “real” one, which is of course a silly thing to say about any of them except mine.

  4. “One day I’ll tell you about the Simian Ejaculatron and the Yam Incident.” Oh, no you don’t. You don’t just drop that and walk away. One day, my ass. Now! Nownownownownow!!!!

  5. I’m helping a friend rewire an old ice racer Sonnet….Yuck.

    Although it is nice that he and I can just lift the entire fiberglass body off (I assume this is not nearly as easy, if at all possible, on a stock example).

  6. A front drive sports carwas definitely against the grain in the early 70s. But look at the competition for coupes. Opel is memtioned, and yes RWD. You had various Fiats, Karman Ghia. Maybe lump in the Capri. Heck, the Sonnet will hold its own against a Porsche 914 – flame away. My dad had one when I was a teen. Was great fun- especially when you let the back end slide around corners on gravel roads.

    1. You are correct sir. My Dad had a 71 new in Colorado. That car would do some amazing shit as far as traction and handling. It also did some amazing shit when he was out of town and I got ahold of the keys. Good times. But it DT, you can say thank you/fuck you later.

  7. Registered just to mention how refreshing it is to read David Tracy/Torch’s articles without having to see suggestions to read an article in a sister site discussing amber heard, some racist cop hurting someone or otherwise clickbait article designed to enrage.

  8. “Maybe we’ll go look at it.”

    If either of you do end up with it, I think I still have a Sonett III gas cap in my parts heap to which you would be welcome, if needed. Other caps will fit but the correct cap for the III has a distinctive appearance; it’s prominently positioned on the car so having the right one is nice.

    I’ve never owned a III but somehow I wound up with a gas cap. Of course.

  9. I once worked at another primate research center and I can attest that the monkey ejaculation contraption is real. Portland’s Willamette Week did a piece based on an undercover job there and used a pic of a monkey being ejaculated as the cover picture for the story, circa 2000. If I could have taken that thing home, I’d have never left the house again.

    On to Sonnets. I actually like the II better, both because of looks and the problematics of the pop-up headlights on the III. I’ve been looking for a nice one for my Saab collection for a while, but the prices have crept up a lot lately, so it may never happen. In the condition I’d like, they’re north of 15K, but project condition, they can be had for peanuts. It’s surprising how many have survived.

  10. Portuguese football legend Eusébio drove one of these and loved the car so much, he would later invest in a Saab dealership. The car resurfaced a few years ago and was fully restored.×810.jpg

  11. “Sonett”, one n, two t’s. From “so nett” Swedish slang (or at least midcentury Swedish slang) for “so cool”, not from the poem.

    I love them, they’re so ugly they’re cool. It almost looks like a placeholder body car companies use for prototype testing while an Italian design house is working on the final styling.

          1. A Swedish car, with engines of odd shape,
            Doth vex mechanics all over the globe.
            They try to fix them with electric tape,
            And time their fickle motors with a strobe.
            The Sonett, Ninety-Six, and Ninety-Five,
            Were first equipped with motors of two-strokes.
            But this technology did not stay alive,
            For who wants an automobile that smokes?
            The later Ninety-Nine was turbocharged,
            With engine oriented in reverse.
            Other models throughout the years enlarged,
            But poor Saab could not ‘scape the General’s curse.
            No more do they have magic ‘neath the bonnet.
            And now there does exist a true Saab sonnet.

            (yes, there might be a couple of places where the meter doesn’t quite work. I’m still on my first cup of coffee.)

    1. Ahem.
      In your Saab Sonett
      With all the rust upon it
      You’ll be the strangest person in the Easter parade

      Oh, I could write a sonnet
      About your Saab Sonett
      And of the guy removed from the Easter parade

      (Apologies to Irving Berlin and anyone over the age of 70)

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