No Reserve Storage Find: 1968 Saab Sonett

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I remember, barely, the Saab Sonett III (’70-’74) probably because of its blocky, awkward look. I knew little about the two-seater Swede other than I knew one when I saw it. What I didn’t know about the Sonett was the earlier generation, specifically the Sonett II (’66-’69) AKA the Saab 97. Today, for your review, we have a 1968 example from the second Sonett series and it’s considered a barn/storage find with a “Rebuilt, Rebuildable & Reconstructed” title. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, this unusual little car is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $305 with ten bids tendered so far. T.J.’s sleuthing skills discovered this gem – thanks T.J.!

With only 2,300 constructed, that low volume may explain some of this Sonett generation’s obscurity. It was supposedly designed as a race car, utilizing a fiberglass body attached to a boxed frame but the standard three-cylinder engine or the later Ford-supplied V4 belies that racing assertion – not to mention the front-wheel drive layout.

The details around this Saab are a bit light but the seller does tell us, “I purchased this car out of long-term storage with the plan for restoration. Plans have changed so now selling for $1 reserve. The car is mostly solid, there is rust in the floor pan as they all do“. Well, there’s no rust in the driver’s side floor pan as we’re in full Fred Flinstone mode with no floor pan at all. The finish is taxed, some of the trim is missing, and that unique, and probably rare, rear window is going to need to be swapped. The dust and dirt confirm this car’s long-term storage.

Initially powered by a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine, Ford’s 1.5 liter V4 replaced it in ’67 as the two-stroke was not considered viable for the U.S. market – the intended destination for many Sonett IIs. Regardless, this Saab’s engine looks borderline mummified and probably hasn’t turned a lick, on its own, in many moons though it is stated that it turns over by hand. The sole transaxle employed was a four-speed manual unit.

The interior’s condition pretty well matches that of the exterior. The seats are present and seem to be in fair condition though the collection of dust hides their true condition. A lot of the interior trim and upholstery components/panels are missing. The gauges, and switchgear, however still show in place. And of course, there’s that little matter of the driver’s side floor…The seller claims, “Sometime in the past the driver’s floor has been cut out, not rusted out“. I’d say it’s likely that it was cut out because it was rusted out but that’s just speculation.

Finally, it’s suggested, “Good base for a rebuild or parts car if needed“. It is probably an OK base for a project, assuming that an individual looking for such a project can be found. Beyond that, I’m not sure what the future may have in store for this Saab, wouldn’t you agree?

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  1. Maggy

    Kinda Looks a like 280 z from the front with a funny looking slightly L88 like hood scoop and an opel gt from the back with a 66 barracuda rear window imo. Definitely a unique car.Never saw one.Will make for a good donar or an interesting restore.Front wheel drive v4.Like drive one just for fun.

    Like 2
    • tje

      And a Flintstone car from the floor.

      Like 0
    • Greg

      This thing needs a RWD conversion and a hellcat swap obvisouly 😆 lol but seriously a newer Ford ecoboost would be a cool upgrade

      Like 0
  2. Joey MecMember

    It’s a strange car indeed. I had a friend who had a project back in 70’s. Very strange to sit in. There is a following for these cars but I don’t know how many anymore. This one looks like a good parter. The rear glass alone is impossible to find, that I know.

    Like 1
  3. harold daniels

    Flintstone break package.

    Like 0
  4. Pat

    Four on the tree

    Like 2
    • tje

      I’ve had 2 Ford Taunus’s that 4 on the tree. It was fairly common in Europe, don’t know if it still is.

      Like 0
  5. Bill

    I wonder who in Arkansas owned it

    Like 0
  6. jagcarman

    Sad thing is that the car does not have a frame, it is the bottom pan of a SAAB 96. As such it is fully constructed of sheet metal, with all of the strength in box sections. If the floor is corroded, it is likely the box sections will need repair too. This will be a challenging project.

    Like 3
  7. Jay McCarthy

    Everything needed for this car is made of the rarest mineral on earth

    Like 3
  8. luckless pedestrian

    A million years ago… me in my in my 20s… and dinosaurs still walking the earth, I actually took one of these for a test drive. Not new… I’ll guess then it was probably 15 or so years old…. and back then a 15 year old rust belt car was an old car. It ran well, but it was tired and the rust showing through the floors and other spots made it too much of a project for me to consider at the time… However, the thing that sticks out in my mind is the 4-on-the-tree… Now I had driven a couple of pick ups with 3 on the column, but never a “sportscar” with 4… We need weird cars again…

    Like 2
    • Paul Root

      I brother had a Saab 96 a few years ago with a 4 on the tree. He let me drive it once. I have no idea Carlsson could shift that thing so quickly.

      Like 0
  9. GOM

    These handled really well and with the V4 were very spunky. The column shift was unusual (on this side of the pond, anyway) but was not a real disadvantage once the driver became acclimated to it. Remember, this is a lighter, lower center of gravity, more aerodynamic cousin to the SAAB 96 which was internationally recognized as a superior rally car and ice racer. The Sonnet II (97) also had the advantage of a tilt nose, which made maintenance much easier than the III’s tiny hood opening. If this one could be saved and restored, it would be an absolute hoot to drive, and you’d be the only kid on your block to have one!

    Like 5
  10. Fred

    Man, I thought these things were ugly back in the day. Still do. A girl I worked with had one of these and her and her girlfriend ran it in autocrossed. They did really well with it back then.

    Like 0
  11. SquareLeft

    Here’s the showroom brochure for the Sonett II – 1967 version, but I doubt that Saab changed it much for ’68.

    Like 1

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