Sporty Swede: 1969 Saab Sonett V4

1970-74 Saab Sonett IIIs come up quite frequently here on Barn Finds; I’ve written about three of them myself. Its predecessor, the 1967-69 Sonett V4, is not quite as common, with only 1610 produced over that three-year period. After producing 258 Sonett IIs with a three-cylinder two-stroke engine, Saab decided to fit their sports car with the same V4 engine that was now available in the 95 wagon and 96 sedan and in mid-1967, the Sonett V4 was born. Available here on eBay in Portland, Oregon, this 1969 Saab Sonett V4 appears to be a nice driver.

The easiest way to identify a Sonett V4 is by the large bulge on the hood that was introduced to accommodate the taller V4 engine. This Sonett looks decent from a few feet away but there is some surface cracking in the fiberglass and a large scratch in the front right corner. One of the most distinctive features of the Sonett II/V4 was the large wraparound rear window, and this one appears to be in nice shape. This is important since replacement ones are rare, and expensive when they do come up for sale. All lenses are present and in good condition; the rear taillights being sourced from the Saab 95 station wagon. This particular Sonett rides on a set of slightly widened steel wheels with good tires. There is only one shot of the undercarriage and it appears to be solid, which is good since the frame of these cars would rust easily. Hopefully this one has spent its life in the forgiving climate of the Pacific Northwest.

The black interior is in decent shape with nice door panels, headliner, and carpets. There is some wear on the driver’s seat. One unusual feature in a sports car is the column-mounted gear shifter, this would be moved to the floor on the Sonett III. In the dashboard, there is a full set of instrumentation sourced from the Saab 96 Deluxe sitting behind a three spoke sports steering wheel wrapped in a leather cover. A modern head unit with Bluetooth has been mounted above the driver’s left knee. A factory-fitted roll bar is mounted on the bulkhead behind the seats, an important feature given the Sonett’s relatively fragile fiberglass body. The spare tire and battery are stored in a compartment below the trunk, which is accessed by a small hatch which would be replaced by an opening rear window on the Sonett III.

A great feature of the Sonett II/V4 is that the whole front end flips forward to reveal the engine, which in this case is a 65 horsepower 1.5 liter Ford V4, as used in other Saab models of the time. It appears to be stock aside from a Pertronix electronic ignition module which is a nice upgrade. The four-speed transmission is said to shift well and the freewheel feature still works as it should.

With just a few hours of bidding left, this Sonett V4 sits at $10,000 with 16 bids cast. According to Hagerty, a #3 good example is valued at $8600 so this one is currently selling for a little above average. Values on the old Saabs are continuing to rise so this is still a decent deal. Would you use this driver-quality Sonett as-is or treat it to a full restoration?


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  1. former SonettIIOwner

    the bubble makes me think the back window is actually from a very early Sonett II-2 stroke, the V4 cars had a flat rear window.

  2. BRUCE

    There are very few cars that can make ugly work and this is one of the few. Designed by engineers for certain and all very logical given the limited resources that SAAB could put forward on this car. The second version was much better styled and in many ways a better car all round but this one is like the BUG EYE sprite so ugly that it is cute.

    Not fast but for a go around town or a trip to the mountains almost perfect. I have driven one that my friend owned a few times and my 3000 Healey, TR-4 IRS and MGA could all out run it but it was equal to them in simple fun and easy to fix. I liked them as they fit the KISS principle KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Something todays makers have forgotten.

    Like 4
    • Tman

      Nice write up! Good memories are always cherished. My friend many years ago had a Morris Minor. Slow, noisy, busy ride you felt running over a pebble or leaf but our girlfriends preferred a ride in it over my nice 62 Pontiac Bonneville Safari wagon. But strictly for short local trips trying to buy beer hoping they wouldn’t ask for I.D.
      Especially trying to wedge yourself into the back seat and no seatbelts!

      Like 1
  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Thank you for id-ing this correctly as a “Sonett V4” instead of calling it a Sonett II (like the ebay lister did).

    Like 3
  4. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    I prefer the bugeye headlights to the later versions’ pop-ups. Less to go wrong (and they did go wrong). Is this green an original Saab color? I don’t recall ever seeing a Saab of this color.

    Like 1
    • Ralph

      What is the trouble with the Sonett III headlights? Asking because we had one new for 3 years. Never had an issue with the headlights, ever. The mechanism to open/close them was totally mechanical, pull the lever they opened, push the lever they closed. Thanks for your input on this.

      Like 2
      • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

        Well maybe I’m wrong, but I went to buy at least 2 of them in the past and each of them had a broken connector that popped the light up.

      • douglas hunt

        the mechanism was prone to strip the gear that rotated the assembly open.
        wheeler dealers Ant repaired a stripped gear on one of their episodes

        Like 2
  5. Skip Campos

    I had a yellow one. I put a quadrasonic tape deck in mine and was really great sounding. Mine had what looked like dune buggy seats. I put fog lights on top of the rubber bumperets. It was a fun car to drive. Not good in deep snow.

  6. Frank

    Nice one and fairly rare. I have bad memories of the Saab automobile. When I was 15 I worked at a busy Mobil gas station. A guy had a 2 door Saab with the 2 cycle engine. During the winter months he would come in to fill up. He always left the 30w oil in the trunk. I would make an honest attempt to get the quart of oil in the tank. The gas filler was in an awkward position and the oil spout would leak. Thirty percent of the oil ran down the quarter panel. The oil was like pouring molasses in 30 degree weather.

    Like 2
  7. BimmerDude Member

    Bidding closed, and sold. I hope the buyer is aware of the chronic problems with transmission bearings. I went through the original transaxle in my 1969 96, a used replacement and then had a new bearing kit installed. Perhaps there are better lubes now than in the 70’s to help keep them running well.

    Like 1
  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $10,251.

    Like 3
  9. bill tebbutt

    Funny. My pal and I were on the road last Friday to pick up my race car chassis, and the nose of a red car was pointing up in the air awkwardly at an industrial lot that was basically full of junk. We were on the road probably 200 yards away, and I’m thinking Alfa Spider? Marcos? Ginetta (believe me if the latter, it would be home with me by now).

    On the return trip, we swung in by and looked at them – the yard owner’s pal has 3 of these Sonnets there, partially disassembled, parts everywhere. He wants them out, like yesterday. I suspect a grand Cdn takes them all home. Located in Oakville, Ontario

    Like 3
  10. chrlsful

    “…Would you use this driver-quality Sonett as-is or treat it to a full restoration?…”
    Both, DD it & as doing so restore, mod or rest0mod.
    Love to play w/that bent4, never even saw one (became the cologne 6 I think).
    The more square ones were shipped out of the dealier in town that used to B a blacksmith’s shop. Byt the time this one came out they moved over onto Rt 1…

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