Saab Sonett: Spotted

When Sixten Sason, the famous designer of the first Saab cars, first Hasselblad camera and many other noteworthy things, stepped back and laid eyes on his freshly completed design he is said to have uttered two words: "Sa natt". From his native Swedish this could be roughly translated as "how neat".

The new lightweight two-seat roadster before him was built from a super-light combination of moulded plastic and aluminium sheets, bonded together to form a 520kg machine that could be propelled to over 100mph by its frugal 58hp engine. It was years ahead of its time, too many years, as it turned out, and of the 2,000 cars per year original planned for production only six were ever made.

Still, when the idea of a light, two-seat sports car was resurrected in the mid-sixties, it was to the Sonett that Saab returned. Using fibreglass bodywork to achieve another featherweight design, and equipped first with a 60hp three-cylinder motor and later with a 73hp Ford V4, the Sonnet II sold over 4,000 examples during a three-year manufacturing run.

For the seventies the coupe was reimagined as a more angular machine, somewhat akin to a Datsun 240Z from certain angles, it was replete with pop-up headlights, a hinged rear window and alloy wheels. Using various iterations of the previous generation's more potent V4 engine the car was a hit, particularly in the US market for which it was designed. Almost 8,500 Sonett IIIs were built before production ended in 1974, with the car even enjoying success on track during its lifetime.

The example we have for you today won't be taking the chequered flag any time soon, in fact it may not even be taking to the road. Described as (and looking like) a car requiring restoration, it's not in the best condition and seems to be missing the large fog lamps, which usually reside behind the grille - though the engine runs and it's mercifully free of the protruding safety bumpers which plagued US examples.

With Saab sadly no longer with us, and its latter years plagued by GM ownership, it's hard to think of a better way to keep the marque's spirit alive than by bringing a car as wonderfully curio as the Sonett back to its former glory. Just look how smart this example, a car which sold for nearly double what today's Spotted is going for, looks. Should you take the plunge you'll no doubt find yourself in possession for a fantastic project car; one which, once complete, will also make for a wonderful driving machine. How neat.

1,700cc, V4
Transmission: 4-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power(hp): 73@5,000rpm
Torque(lb ft): 87@2,700rpm
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1973
Recorded mileage: 100,000
Price new: Β£2,540
Yours for: Β£8,000

See the full ad here.

P.H. O'meter

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