1974 Saab Sonett: New Car Smell


For years, I’ve been aware of a Saab Sonett – in a great shade of orange – languishing behind a house in East Providence, RI. I’ve never stopped in to ask about the Swedish coupe as the owner is rarely home and I don’t have much interest in buying it (an orange BMW 2002 would be a different story). That said, when I spot examples like this 1974 Sonett with only 21,000 miles that’s here on eBay with low bidding and no reserve, I realize these are still cheap enough to buy a good one without investing in someone’s forsaken project. I’ve never driven one, but the looks alone are compelling enough to get me into the driver’s seat. Of course, anything with flip-up headlights catches my attention, but that’s just one more of my dangerous and irrational considerations that gets me into cars I have no right owning! With less than 3 hours left to bid – does this Sonnet look like a winner to you?


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  1. KL Harper

    Not a bad car and it needs some love but it is priced according to condition. I have never driven one but they seem to do well in Rally’s and ice racing, and the looks are certainly distinctive, maybe not attractive but definitely different. One silly question what is the deal with that stupid M badge on the back.

    KL Harper

  2. Mark E

    The bidding is up to about what it’s worth for the condition. A/C was an add-on option back then, the AC unit attaches under the dash. I’m suprised the seller does not have interior pics. From one of the pics it appears the car has seats from a 900 EMS which is not a bad thing, per se, but they’re not Sonett seats. Makes me wonder what other improvements have been done to it. The engine on a Sonett III is basically a V-4 Ford. Pretty sturdy engine and parts are available. I’ve always personally much rather had one of these than an Opel GT. I got to drive one once and can compare the experience to driving a Mazda RX8. Sporty, sexy looking car with refined road manners. Not a sports car but not a GT either.

    • Josh Staff

      Interesting comparison Mark! I’ve always found these cars to be intriguing, but never something I’d want to own. Since I DD an RX8, you’ve now got me interested in the Sonett! I love the fact that my RX handles so well, but isn’t brutal to drive everyday. If one of these Saabs could offer me that kind of refined experience, but without the oil hunger of my rotary, I would be sorely tempted to find one to make my DD!

      • jim s

        have you checked with Mazda to see if your VIN has any open recalls or service campains. i think mazda was replacing RX8 motors at one point because of oil consumption issues.

    • RogueInLA

      A/C was considered a ‘factory’ option, installed by dealers in the states. Under the dash? There is no room under the dash in one of these. I had a 74 with Saab Air, and it was integrated into the heating ductwork, other than the controls, there was nothing obvious about it. I’ve had several of these, always fun to drive, not exceptionally powerful, but they could be made to run fairly quickly. Wasn’t a fan of the big bumpers tho.

  3. David C

    I never drove one but I did ride in one that a friend of mine owned. The car went very well and seemed to handle well. I always thought the column shifter to be weird though. From the pictures it looks like there may have been a floor shift installed but these came with a 4 speed column shift.

  4. David C

    Sorry you are correct. My friends was obviously Sonnett 11 model with the column shift.

  5. jim s

    sold for $4300.

  6. Grr

    Always liked these because they were small and weirdly dashing, even after a ride in a V4 Sonett II (the ugly one) when I was a kid that was noisy and rough. Motor sounded like it was trying to vibrate itself to bits.

  7. D. King

    Jeff (author of the article)–I’m curious. Is the orange Sonett a Sonett II or a III? As Grr says, the II is the ugly one, but I had one in St. Louis in the early ’70s, and sold it when I moved to Houston in ’75. As far as I know, orange was not a standard color at least for the II, but I had mine painted orange when it was mildly rear-ended and pushed into another car. It wasn’t a bad accident, just some fiberglass repair and a broken tail light, but I was going to have over half of it painted anyway, so I figured I’d change to a rich burnt orange a bit darker than the Bimmer 2002 color (we had one of those, too). Mine came from the factory in white, but the first owner, a woman, didn’t like white cars, so she had the dealer paint it “Ford Fairlane gold,” if you know what I mean. New Sonett IIs must not have sold well if he was willing to do that to get it off his lot! I bought it used when it was about 3 years old, and always hated the gold. I loved it in orange. It’s a long shot, but I’d be curious if that was my car, and if so, how it wound up in RI.

    Sonett IIs are great cars, BTW. Beauty is as beauty does, right? (If it is a II, my car’s serial number/VIN was 000686.)

    • RogueInLA

      Orange was a standard color, I had 2 orange Sonetts, and 1 blue one.

      • D. King

        Which model(s) were yours? II or III?

      • RogueInLA

        IIIs, one without the big bumpers, 2 with. One died of old age, the 2nd burned to the ground after spinning across a rainy freeway in L.A. and hitting a guardrail head on (the fuel line was leaking right over the shorted out starter). It was fortunate that car had a sunroof, as the doors jammed shut, and I only got out thru the roof. The 3rd sheared teeth off the ring gear, wound up selling it as a project to someone who took it to Minnesota.

      • D. King

        Well, in my original comment, I said I didn’t think the II came in orange. I still don’t. The III was a very different car–at the time we thought it was quite exotic, compared with the II!

  8. Monsieur le Baton

    i had a question? can you remove those super ugly bumpers – i mean in the US, can you just remove them, it ruins the look IMHO – it would look a lot sweeter without them. I know in the UK you can just remove them and tell your insurance company you’ve modified the vehicle and taken them off.

  9. Martin

    My friend bought this car to do a partial restore and add to his collection to drive. St. Peter’s Missouri

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Please ask him to keep us updated Martin! Thanks.

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