Live Auctions

One Owner Barn Find: 1974 Saab Sonett

This 1974 Saab Sonett was recently acquired from the original owner, who kept it indoors in his shop and off the road for 25 years. It remains in highly original condition with lots of original documentation included. The Sonett is largely rust-free with just some corrosion noted in the trunk from battery leakage. The original Oregon plates and dealer plate frame are both tell-tale signs of many years of undisturbed storage, and it’s listed here on craigslist for a very reasonable $2,495.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find. To me, the Sonett is one of those tremendous outliers in the collector car market, as even a survivor like this one in great factory colors doesn’t command a premium price. From what I can recall about them, they’ve never risen to the point that enthusiasts swoon for them (at least, other than Saab enthusiasts), either due to a driving experience that doesn’t match the thrills-per-mile of other sports cars from the period or because they’re simply too far off the beaten path for the casual collector to appreciate.

I love period details, so the old-school Oregon plates and vintage metal dealer plate frame are two features I dig. The seller notes the owner prior to him bought the Saab new at Merle Taylor VW in Oregon, and the Sonett comes with its original dealer maintenance booklet showing plenty of reassuring service stamps. How, then, does a car that was clearly a regular to a dealer’s service bays suddenly fall off the daily rotation and sit idle for 25 years with no obvious ailment precluding it from driving down the road? The interior looks to be quite sound and needing very little work.

Engine-wise, the seller has done some diagnostic work that indicates there’s a healthy mill under the hood. He pulled the spark plugs, ran the starter for 30 seconds, and then performed a compression test, with results showing 120,120,130, and 140 PSI. For an engine that hasn’t run in 25 years, that’s an encouraging result for moving forward with a restoration but hopefully not an engine rebuild. While these cars are likely never going to catch fire to the point that their values rise significantly, they still represent an extremely good value for enthusiasts looking for something different.


  1. Mr. Bond

    Listing deleted. Looked really good for $2500.

    Like 4
  2. chrlsful

    I’d agree as did the purchaser, ‘s Y it got snapped up at 1/3rd its value.
    Nice 1.5L Tanus (is thatt the spelling?) engine (no 2stroke) from da pic, as it’s last iteration…

    • local_sheriff

      Since you’re asking it’s spelled Taunus and the name derives from a mountain range in Germany.
      Seems you have some work to do with your other spelling as well –
      and English is not my mother tongue… 😉

      Like 4
      • BR

        And grammar ………..

        Like 2
  3. Stevieg Member

    There was a Saab dealership close to my house as a child. I remember being fascinated by these. Always wanted to try one on for size just for that reason.
    That former Saab dealership is now a mexican restaurant, not a good one, but popular none the less.
    After the Saab dealership moved out of that location, the owner moved a half mile east on the same road & sold Volvo & Subaru cars. They also did van conversions in the 1980’s & the owner developed Sno-Way snow plows. He just loved to dabble in anything automotive.

    Like 3
  4. scott

    Saw a very nicely restored one recently, they are little jewels!

    Like 3
  5. Joe Btfsplk

    I owned a ’74. They are weird yet cool at the same time. When I took off the railroad tie bumpers, it took on a more sexy,Italian look.The V-4 engine used was also sold to power irrigation pumps.

    Like 5
  6. Robert Woodward

    I owned a 74 Sonnett with the V4 and while it looked interesting it was an absolute bore to drive. It leaned into turns as if it was going to go belly up at any moment and gathered momentum more than actually accelerated. The only interesting thing about it was it’s “free wheel” feature which most (if not all) Saabs of the 60’s- early 70’s offered.

    Like 1
    • Kenny

      Boy does that disagree with my ownership experience. I drove a ’74 for some time back in the early ’80’s and I recall the handling to be very crisp, the cornering flat, and I really enjoyed the car. I would have called on this one had it not have disappeared to soon!

      Like 1

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