Barn Swede: 1973 Saab Sonett III

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

Hi there, Sven Gunderson here with another Saab. I know that I show Saabs a lot, but they’re great cars, and my mom is Swedish! This great Swedish car is a 1973 Saab Sonett III and it’s on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $5,500 or make an offer. This car is in¬†New Braunfels, Texas.

This isn’t any Saab color that I’ve ever seen, and doing a search for Saab Sonett III colors shows Emerald Green and my favorite, Safari Green, but not the particular green shown on this Sonett. The seller says that this is a mostly-original, not-restored, barn find. The front bumper is missing and there’s no mention as to if it comes with the car or not.

That’s such a great profile! While I prefer the Sonett II with a 3-cylinder 2-stroke engine, I would love to have a Sonett III. This car “has been stored for a long time” and it will need work. It “has underbody rust and has already been partially welded.”

The interior looks fairly complete but it will also need work. I know that the trunk compartment can rust on these cars and there’s no mention of that. A photo with the carpet removed would have been nice. NADA lists the low retail value of a 1973 Saab Sonett III as being $6,475 and the average value as being $11,550, so there’s a bit of room on this one as far as the price goes.

The seller says that the “V4 engine runs perfect as long as you fill gas into the carburetor (see video). Due to the long standing time it seems that the tank/fuel-lines are clogged and therefore no fuel reaches the carburetor. The transmission goes in all gears and the clutch is still good. The brakes must be done as well as some suspension parts.” It sounds like this car will need the full treatment. You may be able to keep the cost down by doing a lot of the work yourself, but the big wild card is the underbody rust. I would want to see this car on a lift, or at least see several photos of the underside of this Sonett with it up on a lift to see the extent of that rust. Hopefully this car isn’t too far gone financially for someone to jump on it as a project. Have you owned a Sonett III? What are your thoughts on this one, trouble spots to look for, etc?

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  1. charlie

    The seller seems to be stuck in 1973 given the Olds 88 parked in the background. Delta is the one to buy!

  2. Sean

    It actually looks like both bumpers are missing. The rear is not factory either.

  3. Klharper

    These are neat little cars and fun to drive, this one looks good in pictures but the underside needs to be redone by someone that knows what they are doing and there will be 3 or 4 weekends spent to bringing it up to operational standard. A good candidate for a rolling restoration


  4. Eric_10cars Eric 10Cars Member

    A year or so ago I looked at a similar Sonett III with rust in the floors and trunk, with original paint, for $1500 and decided against it. The price on this one above is in the twilight zone.

  5. Matt

    Years ago I was getting parts at a junkyard for my 68 2002 and there was a Sonnett parked beside it. I was looking it over when the owner of the junkyard offered it to me for $100. I passed, but still think about that car.

  6. Dave Wright

    Sonetts have always been interesting cars to me but I am too big for them. 6’2″ was too big for them even when there was less of me. The pedigree is good and engineering is interesting but I have never seen one that didn’t need a lot of attention even if they looked good on the outside. They have a decidely kit car feel about them.

  7. Greg

    Love these cars, but they will break your wallet, then your heart. If I were a bazillionaire I’d consider it.

  8. Mark

    In the late 1980’s I was living near Atlanta. Everyday on the way to work I passed a house with two of these parked in the front yard. They never moved, but they looked so exotic. Reminded me of the TVR’s of the era. Every one I ever saw for sale needed “some” floor repair.

  9. Mike H

    That colour looks quite a bit like the green that Honda laid on the Civic Del Sol.

    • Steven Visek

      It’s called Samba Green.

      I’d much rather have one of these, an Si with 160hp VTEC, than the Saab. Would ideally like one with JDM options such as traction control, limited slip diff, and of course the TransTop power operated top(JDM/Euro).

  10. Luki

    You can buy nice condition ones all day long for $7500.
    This makes no sense at all.

  11. Aaron

    My dad just gave me his. I am restoring this year. Will be a project. But I have found memories as a kid in this car.

  12. Aaron


    • juan

      where are you located. I have the same color Sonett and bought it recently in Connecticut.

      • Aaron

        Missouri. Car is in Kansas.

    • Aaron

      Update. Brought it home last weekend. :). So excited.

      • Aaron


  13. Bruce Best

    I have seen a couple of these with the dreaded rust on the frame. What you need to know is that the frame and under body sheet metal on these cars is very simple. I am surprised that a cold weather manufacturer like SAAB did not do a better job of rust protection or perhaps an entire frame galvanization like lotus finally did on the Esprits.

    With the body and interior in such good shape. If you have at least 5 friends and a couple sets of ramps you can get the body off of these in a hard work weekend. From there the repair of the frame and sub-structure is not that bad. This is especially true if you can weld yourself or know a good welder that likes beer. (this can be really important with some cars like TVR’s and these SAABs)

    As for breaking your wallet, not so much unless you need to send everything out. The some of the ex dealers will try to rob you blind if they can. Use the internet and take your time. as for the fuel lines, figure on replacing the rubber, and try a combination of solvents and air pressure to clear those but do so OUTSIDE away from your home. Here in the Kansas City area a man burned his half million dollar house down because he had these same kinds of problems with his ALFA.

    Most of the parts are not that difficult to source. These are not complex cars and they use parts from many other far more common cars so if you talk to members in the club I am certain you can make this a very cost effective car to own.

    On a personal note they almost always bring a smile to the public. There is something about this design that just seems friendly for some reason. I have never owned one but I have worked on one that a friend owned and it almost always had one or two people looking at it when we got back from wherever and those looking were almost always smiling.

  14. Adam T45

    With the price and amount of work required, the term “the world is full of optimists” springs immediately to mind!

  15. Bert Bennett

    I owned a 73 when they were brand-new and just a year ago found a 39,000 original miles example that only needed a clutch which is now been done and the car is a delight to drive. These are incredibly economical to run , And in no way will break your heart or your wallet compared to similar performing classic cars. Nevertheless this one should not be worth more than about 3000. These are definitely making a comeback, unfortunately with so few examples those that were trashed are beyond recovery and so the numbers are limited. Good restored car would be worth midteens before we know it and I’m sure getting to VOLVO 1800 status in no time.

  16. Bert Bennett

    Here’s a pic

  17. Ken

    A lot of things that cause a pause on this one. Clearly floor pan and rockers appear to have been repaired/patched and are not original shape. Looks like many interior trim panels have been recovered in a different style than original. Center section of engine cover appears to be taller than the original configuration which was slightly raised for air cleaner clearance. No mention of free-wheeling working in gearbox. As noted bumpers are missing at both ends. It does appear to have the original style blue plastic center caps in wheels. These are fun cars to drive and share mechanical bits with the SAAB 95 & 96 of that era.

  18. James

    I owned a bright orange Sonnett with the V-4 and the freewheelin coast feature. I thought it was pretty cool back in 1972.

  19. juan

    My advice to first time (and 2nd and 3rd too) Saab Sonett buyers is to going the Vintage Saab Club of North America and the group. Lots of great resources in each of them. also check on facebook for Saab Sonett and other vintage Saab groups – there are a bunch. Also I highly recommend the manuals prepared by Jack Ashcraft. I bought the Saab Electrics for Everybody and it is very thorough and he redrew the electrical schematics and they are very readable!! A must have. Good luck Sonett folks. I have a 1974 Sonett III

  20. Aaron

    Agree. And thanks. Good news is…My dad still had the original shop manual for the car… Gotta love history!


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