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Swedish Beauty: 1969 Saab Sonett V4

In the 1950s, a Saab engineer and racing enthusiast named Rolf Mellde, along with three partners, built a two-seat fiberglass roadster in a barn near Trollhattan, the site of Saab’s factory. They called it Sonett, a contraction of several Swedish words that means “it’s so neat.” Mellde wanted to promote Saab’s two-stroke engines in competition, but due to rule changes in European racing, only six of the new roadsters were built. Budget constraints killed further development of the Sonett until 1966 when it was resurrected as a sports car. Like the first Sonett, this car received a two-stroke engine. Only 28 Sonett IIs were built before Saab decided it was too difficult to sell a two-stroke in the U.S. A switch to the Ford Taunus four-cylinder, four-stroke in 1967 produced the Sonett V4. To accommodate the larger engine, the new car acquired a “power bulge” in the hood. The difference between the Sonett II and the Sonett V4 is readily apparent in profile. Here on eBay, is a 1969 Saab Sonett V4, bid to $13,200, reserve not met. This car is located in Clayville, New York. As evident from the photos, this is an extremely well-kept example, despite the 123,500 miles noted by the seller.

The engine was made by Ford in Germany. It is a water-cooled, 1.5 liter, V4 configuration, developing about 65 bhp. The transmission is a front-wheel-drive, four-speed column shift affair, with a freewheel feature – a holdover from earlier two-stroke days. Freewheeling allows the oil/gas mixture to continue to lubricate the two-stroke engine when the car rolled downhill with the throttle closed. Though the four-stroke doesn’t require freewheeling, the function remains in the Sonett V4. Thanks to just 1,940 lbs curb weight, the car will reach 60 mph from a standstill in just over 12 seconds. The car is quick – not fast – and very entertaining to drive. This engine bay could barely be nicer.

The interior, though cozy, is ergonomic and comfortable – I know this because I own a V4. The controls fall to hand easily, and the seats are supportive in all the right places. The owner states that he has had this car for 26 years, and has spared no expense keeping it fettled.

One of my favorite views of the Sonett V4 is from the rear, with its distinctive back window, stacked tail lights, and delicate overriders. Speaking of the back window, a prospective buyer should ask if this is glass or Perspex, as these are unobtainable if a replacement is needed. These cars are becoming more collectible by the day, and prices have been rising. Would this quirky Swede be welcome in your garage?

Comments

  1. Pat

    As an aside, all these Chewy ads are showing a product no longer made by Purina.

    Like 5
  2. SaabGirl900

    Ah, Michelle!! You ARE One Of Us, those crazy folks who own Saabs!

    I was never one for the Sonett, as I am a bit wide-beamed, and one needs to be a bit narrow to comfortably drive one of these.

    But, I hold up the quirky end of the Saab line with 2 99s (one of which is a Turbo), five C900s (including an SPG and a ‘vert) and a Viggen. I also have two 9.3 five doors….one of which has gone halfway around the world with me.

    Very nice write up……glad you mentioned that the name is a corruption of “sa natt”, which is “no nice” or “so neat” in Swedish…..and Rolf Mellde, who was Saab’s first rally driver (Erik Carlson arrived a bit later)……

    Like 1
    • Jake

      wide-beamed? Do you mean, curvy? I think the lines would definitely complement

    • Michelle Rand Staff

      My dream car was Satch Carlson’s Sonett rally car but alas, an acquaintance bought it.

      Like 1
  3. Kevin Gilbert

    I think there were actually 248 of the two stroke cars built. I used to own #46 and #217.

  4. CRW Member

    I hope if that is a nail in the left front tire someone fixed it. A truely neat car, wish to have room in addition to my ’77 5-door 99, ’84 900T, ’89 900T convert & ’93 900 3-door which needs a new home.

  5. SaabGirl900

    CRW–

    You have a ’77 five door? Way cool! I have a dark brown GL automatic…..Cocoa needs some work to be roadworthy, but there are so few 99s around…especially the five doors. I also have a ’78 Turbo. I have an ’83 900T, an ’86 S, an ’88 SPG, two ’90 Turbos….a coupe and a ‘vert, a ’95 SE-T coupe, an ’01 Viggen and two 9.3 five doors…a 2000 and a 2002. Is the ’93 a Turbo, an S or a base car?

    Like 1
  6. SaabGirl900

    Ah, Satch Carlson! The funniest car guy since Peter Egan!

    Michelle, your acquaintance got a very special Saab!

    Like 1
  7. Michael Berkemeier

    The Swedish girls got all of the looks…fortunately, they were in line ahead of the cars. By the time this thing got there, they were fresh outta looks!

  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $17,000.

    Perhaps a record for a Sonett(?)

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