Classic Cars

Unearthed: 1973 Saab Sonett

With Saab likely checking out soon, classic models such as this third generation Sonett will quickly become highly prized collectables.

It's been in the news lately, if you haven't heard. Unlike their fellow Swedish brand Volvo, Saab has officially filed for bankruptcy following their sale by General Motors to Spyker. Spyker was an unusual buyer in that they're a small boutique supercar builder, not one normally associated with building cars on a large scale. And after nearly two years of trying to make things happen, it that Saab is at the end of the road; unable to receive the required cash infusion to keep things alive.

Not even several Chinese suitors have been able to salvage the struggling automaker. GM, who still holds preferred shares, was unwilling to allow for a Chinese take over. Before the door likely closes for good at the Saab factory in Trollhattan, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at a Saab classic which has often been forgotten. The Sonett first premiered as an open top roadster in 1955 and was powered by a three-cylinder 57.5hp engine. With a top speed of about 120mph, 2,000 units were planned, but only six were built due to a change in race competition rules and economic and marketing realities.

The second generation Sonett debuted in 1966 and it too was designed as a race car. It successfully went up against other European-made roadsters such as the Austin-Healey Sprite and Triumph Spitfire. The U.S. version was powered by the Ford Taunus V4 engine with 65hp. When combined with the car's fiberglass construction, the Sonett V4 could go from 0 to 62mph in 12.5 seconds. Production last until 1970 when the Clean Air Act of that year forced engineering modifications to the engine which couldn't be properly adapted to the car's body style. This change resulted in the Sonett being redesigned for 1970.

The third generation also came with the Ford engine, but horsepower was down due to those new emissions requirements. However, the biggest change was the new body, which featured a hinged rear-window glass instead of the previous model's compartment hatch door, a flat hood, and hidden headlamps that were opened and closed manually with a lever. It wasn't quite as fast as the previous version (going from 0 to 62mph in 13 seconds), but it was still used for racing. However, slow sales and the 1973 oil crisis forced Saab to end production in 1974, with a total of 8,368 built.

The 1973 Sonett featured here is owned by a member of the Buckeye Saab Club in Ohio. It appears to be in fairly good condition, but there is still quite a bit of cleaning up to do in the wheel wells and engine bay. For anyone who's a fan of Saab (and there are plenty...just look at GM's Facebook page), owning a Sonett such as this would surely be a great thing. It's a reminder of what Saab was capable of doing at one point in its history. Photos courtesy of BuckeyeSaabClub

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