Balloon Tire Sonett: 1968 Saab Sonett

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

Saab Sonett II’s are fairly rare cars to find due to limited production, and some falling victim to neglect. Although that is certainly not the case with this big tire, flared, V4 powered example. Extremely clean, and having recently been painted, this ready to enjoy and somewhat aggressive looking Sonett II is offered for $8,000. Take a look at it here on craigslist out of Anchorage, Alaska.

Small, uniquely styled, and fun to drive, this Sonett II is a sleek car that is a rare sight. Many of these cars often suffer from broken rear windows, where rear window glass is rare, and typically offered at a high premium. The engine is a borrowed European Ford Taunus 1700cc V4 engine. Set up in front wheel drive configuration, the peppy Ford engine is mated to a column shifted 4 speed manual transmission. Claimed to have 120 horsepower over the stock 65, the seller explains the tires and flares were intended to improve the performance and handling of this beefed up Sonett.

The added power is a great addition to an already great looking car, and certainly has increased its fun level. Also the aesthetics of this car are pleasing as the seller recently repainted and performed some minor body work on the rear of the car. The paint appears flawless, and offers a high luster to where the paint virtually seems wet. Fender flares can either look nice, or just plain terrible. In this instance these flairs are fitted neatly, and look like they were made for the car. Additional black trim has been added to the flares to really give a nice finished look as well. With a unique look, and lots of fun to be had driving, would you roll through the country roads in this Sonett?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Sonetts were cool cars, I had a friend that had a couple. I just can’t get past the odd styling and I’m not sure anything you did could improve that. It’s kind of like the designers started at the front, with neat styling, and as they got to the back, oh, oh, running low on funds, let’s end it right here. I think had they spent as much time on the back as the front, it may have had a better chance. I like the flares.

    3+
  2. Jeffro

    Not quite red enough!

    1+
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Jeffro, no big trunk either,,, 🙂

      1+
  3. Elrod

    I remember seeing these growing up and wondering, “what happened to that car??” LOL. They were just weird and quirky enough that I liked them – as I am drawn to all orphan type vehicles. You would be the only guy in your neighborhood with one – but your neighbors wont recognize you with that bag over your head. Those tires have got to go…

    4+
  4. sir mike

    Like the flares but the tyre/wheel size is all wrong.

    5+
  5. AirBoss

    Slight discount for shipping from Alaska…

    2+
  6. Francisco

    It looks like they borrowed those balloon tires from a Piper Super Cub.

    6+
  7. redwagon

    Saab Sonnet – born of Piper Cubs!

    I do like it, surprisingly even the flares, but the wheels need to be different. 120hp would make this very interesting.

    4+
  8. Dave Wright

    These have always interested me but until you see and sit in one, it is hard to realize how tiny they are. I couldn’t fit in one even in my slender youth. They also share the kit car feeling of early Lotus cars. The little V4 is a great motor even if it is a Ford…..they didn’t handle like a lotus or have a lot of speed. But if you were 5’9″ it would be a uneque fun car.

    3+
    • Bruce Best

      They are surprisingly comfortable and amazing fun as city commuter cars. Not so great for long trips but still great fun. I am 5′-9″ and I fit perfectly.

      4+
  9. AMCFAN

    This is a unique build that has both enhanced the look and performance of this little SAAB. The wheels and flares (which you can pick up on ebay for $100) changes the look of ho hum of what you expect to see when the word Sonett is mentioned. Love it or hate it. I think it is cool and one thing is for certain. The labor alone with mechanical and paint updates would far surpass the asking price should someone try and replicate even a portion of what was done here. And to think I almost clicked past thinking it was yet another boring tired project C3 Corvette. What a surprise

    5+
  10. Eric Z

    This Sonnett reminds me of “Lightning McQueen” from Cars.

    2+
    • Andrew Hutzel

      Yep, exactly what our grandson thinks.

      3+
  11. Adam Wright

    Little known fact, the Sonett and the Porsche 904 share tail lights, so when I needed tails for the 904 project, rather then spend thousands on a “Porsche” part, I bought a complete Sonett rear clip. Think smart, save $$$.

    7+
  12. CarBuzzard Member

    Those wheels and tires would definitely slow this car down. The gearing would be thrown completely off. The final drive ratio would be too tall.

    Screws up the look, too. I guess it would improve driving through deep puddles, however.

    Wish we knew more about the engine. There are mods that can make that V4 scream, including a dual crossover sidedraft carb set up.

    Go back to standard wheels and tires, or at least stock diameter, and this thing would be a hoot. Regardless what you think the neighbors would think about you.

    0
  13. Bruce Best

    IF there ever was a car that was so ugly it was beautiful this is it. The design is totally functional and in many ways you can tell that SAAB also made excellent fighter jets. Same kind of thinking. With 120 HP this would be a very competitive car for todays market. It is tiny and it is also very very light so it should be very quick and a blast to drive.

    As for luggage that was the big problem with this model. I have heard that there is a modification to make the glass on this car lift up. Later ones had that same thing and were much more useful. I do not know about storage but cleaning that back window has to be a major pain.

    1+
  14. Eric

    FYI… I own two Sonett’s … a ’67 like this one and a next generation ’72. I’m 6′ 2″, 210 lbs and fit in each with no issues…yes, it’s snug but no different than a Triumph Spitfire. Both of mine have the V4 engine like this one…not super fast but the fierglass body makes them exceedingly lite and they are fast enough for me. The only issue with this Sonett II is- whatever you do- do not break that rear hatch glass. I’ve actually seen rear hatch glass selling for $6k all by itself. Saab guys will buy junkers just for the glass. Sonett II V4’s are very rare and this one is a great deal, even after factoring in the shipping cost from Alaska.

    5+
  15. Wayne

    Saab Sonett? Alaska? Satch Calson? The formally Pigg of Plastique?
    Makes me think.

    1+
  16. D. King

    I miss my Sonett V4, #686. Hubby hated it back in the day, but I guess they’ve grown on him over the years. The last time one was offered I asked if I could get it, and he agreed IF I sold my classic Mini. He hates that one, too.

    Sigh.

    2+
  17. Nevis Beeman

    Car of my dreams. One I knew of lived in Ontario for many years, with its Canadian owner, having been bought almost new in the USA. I hear it went to Edmonton, Alberta when sold to its third owner about 2010/11

    0
  18. Cheryl Lynn

    Buy the Saab and run the United States Road Rally Challenge, September 15-17th, from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula! The event is sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America.

    Then drive out, or take it to the port and fly home! The event is also tied to a fundraiser for the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, New York, to “Preserve the Historic SCCA Rally Archives”!

    Six spots of thirty remain! Bit.ly/USRRC2017KP

    4+
  19. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    It does look like a rally version. Were it not in Alaska I’d have to say it’s all kinds of wrong for reasons stated above. And, given the mostly tidy appearance, the exhaust tip deserves a better mount than a two dollar clamp. Paint is perfect hue to match the “over-the-top” flares, ducts, and bulges of this Swedish mini-muscle car.

    0
  20. Paul B

    Yes the Sonett and Porsche 901 do share tail lights — and they came from the Saab 95 station wagon!!!
    I am 5’9″, 130 lbs and the Sonett is a perfect fit. I’ve driven them but never owned one. They are tons of fun to drive, especially the ultra-rare two-stroke version from 1966-67.

    0

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