Is it possible to get past the cobbled-up kit-car appearance of the Sonnet and do an objective evaluation of it? R&T shows that it is, in considerable detail.
Curbside Classic: Saab Sonett II V4 – A Noisy Little Footnote To Automotive History
This is the first – and only – car I ever drove with four-on-the-tree. A high school buddy of mine was 1st generation Chinese-American, and his immigrant father, who owned a very successful Chinese takeout restaurant, was obsessed and/or smitten with 2-stroke and V-4 SAABs. There were a dozen or more in the back yard at any given moment.
Not only did I get a chance to drive a V-4 Sonett, but my younger, more agile, and thinner self managed to squeeze through that cargo door in order to become a 2nd passenger!
I vaguely remember driving an old Mercedes with a 4 on the tree.
I’ll see your four and raise you five – my 1972 Citroen DS20 had a five-speed column shift. Because the engine was behind the axle, it was the simplest route for the linkage, and worked very smoothly.
I’ll see your five and raise you to five on the LEFT side of the column: 1994 JDM Toyota High Ace van, just about the opposite of your DS in every possible way.
Perhaps the Sonnet inspired Alfa Romeo to build the 4C. Both seem to be fun cars to flog, but are torture as daily drivers.
I love seeing these old R&T pieces! This is one (of many) R&T Road Tests that I remember vividly from my youth, and it’s great to have access to it again. I have a few of the back issues from my subscription years (including the first one I ever got, at a drugstore: the November 1967 issue), but not very many at this late date.
The 1968 Triumph GT6 had an MSRP of $2,895. A FIAT 124 Coupe was $2,631. A BMW 2002 was $2,908 while a 1600-2 would have been less. I had no idea what a poor value the Sonnet was when new. From the review, it pretty much sounds like a kit-car built with economy-car components that didn’t suit the purpose for the price of a nice intermediate.
Back when 155 tires were considered a “large” profile for this type of car!
I too love these old reviews, keep them coming!
My 1982 Renault LeCar came with 145-R-13’s.
When the originals wore out, I replaced them with 155’s …. only because I wanted whitewalls. 155’s were the smallest size that could be had as WW’s.
Long ago & far away, right?
I think my 1979 Fiat Strada had 145-80 by 13’s. I went to 155’s because 145’s were no longer available in the US.
The prototype for the Sonett was built by an American engineer as a hobby. It was a graceful and beautiful car. Saab bought it, displayed it at an auto show, then developed it into a production car that looks like a clumsy engineer built it as a hobby.
The original Saab Sonnet, photo below. Six were built between 1955 and 1957, per Wiki.
I remember reading about the Sonett for the first time and thinking it was named after a type of poem. Like, what does Shakespeare have to do with this car? (And why does it loom so homemade?)
Later, I saw a period print ad that stated tongue-in-cheek that “Sonett” (one “n”, two “t”s) was “Swedish for expensive toy”. Probably not the most effective ad campaign, but still very memorable.
I just wish the styling “rhymed” a bit better, but I did like the looks of the Sonett III in that ’70s way. Especially in the color of Tang citrus beverage.
The Mazda MX-3 Precidia (Canada) reminded me of the Sonnet. Mainly in the handling of the B-pillar and rear glass.
Anyone who purchased a Sonnet in 1968 after reading the famous BMW 2002 review by David E. Davis Jr. should have had their head checked. Sure it’s a funky looking car but I can’t imagine the fit and finish was even remotely close to the 2002. Probably those that thought a two stroke car was an interesting way to stand out. Although it’s two stroke oil plumb probably did a good job of keeping tailgators away.
It looks like a body meant only for test-mule prototypes so mechanical development could go on while an Italian carrozzeria was working on the production styling. From the review it sounds as though it drove like a development mule too.
The Sonett III was styled by an Italian designer, Sergio Coggiola. It was much better-looking, to say the least.
Spotted a “Sonnet III” on the street of my (not yet dying then) wstrn PA ,town.Would a been around 1974. Man it was awesome!
Saw it maybe one two more times; never another that I can think of