We have always really liked the early Saabs. There is something special about their quirky styling and unique mechanicals. But we have often wondered which we would want to buy. Would we go for a 96, a 900, or the sporty Sonett? If we went with the Sonett, which year would we get? Well we found a Sonett II and a Sonett III on eBay being offered by the same seller. The Sonett II is currently at $510 and the Sonett III is at $305, but neither car has met its reserve.
The Sonett saw many evolutions throughout its life span. After the racing success of the limited production Sonett I, the Sonett II was developed and manufactured on a much larger scale. The first couple of years the Sonett II used the small 2-cycle Saab motor seen in the original Sonett, but part way through production Saab decided to put the more powerful and feasible V4 being used in the 96 and Monte Carlo into the Sonett. This increased production potential, but necessitated the offset hood bulge seen on the bonnet of this Sonett II.
This car looks to be structurally complete and sound, but is missing some of its interior. Most of the missing pieces shouldn't be too hard to find, but will require some hunting to find original parts. Another option would be to make this a vintage racer and just finish stripping out the unnecessary pieces and install racing seats. Either way this Sonett II could be a really fun car to have.
When Saab switched from the 2-cycle engine to the V4 the hood bulge that was required to fit the engine was highly criticized for ruining the lines of the car, so it was decided to redesign the car to fit the V4 without the large hood bulge. The Sonett III was born in 1970, but lost much of its Italian inspired design in the process. We think the Sonett III is still a very attractive car; it just isn't as striking as its older sibling.
New emission requirements in 1970 hurt the performance of the 1.5 liter V4 significantly, so Saab increased the displacement to 1.7 liters for the Sonett III in '72. This gave the Sonett III similar performance to its older sibling.
This car is far more complete then the other Sonett and will probably be cheaper and easier to get back on the road. We can't help but wonder how much of this interior would work in the older Sonett II.
Deciding which of these Sonetts to get comes down to price and styling. If you are looking for Italian style and are willing to spend more, then the Sonett II will be the better bet. But if you are just looking for the Saab experience, but can't or don't want to spend a ton of money, then the Sonett III will probably be the better pick. Or if you have lots of money you could buy both and have two awesome Saabs. We wouldn't mind having either Sonetts, but we love the styling of the older Sonett, we actually kind of like the offset hood bulge.