Saab Sonnet II. Sports car with 2 clocks

The official name is Saab 97 Sonnet. Only nobody says that, not even sworn Saab fans. Saab's little sports car is very exclusive, especially when you talk about the 2-stroke. And it carries a lot of legends and dramas, which the history of the Göta Älv brand is particularly rich in.

Number 190 of 258 copies. Photo: Bilweb
Number 190 of 258 copies. Photo: Bilweb

With the sonnet on the A3

It was a few years ago. Summer, heat and the A3. Germany's most-used highway and the Sonett II right in the middle. It's tight, it's loud. And it's hot. The vaulted rear window heats up the interior relentlessly, there is of course no air conditioning. 110 Km / h are available. Feels like you are racing with at least 200 on the asphalt. Or more. This is adventure, driving a car, a forgotten world. Every surviving kilometer becomes a success and you really have to like your neighbor.

Because the thing is saueng.

The Saab is tiny, at least by current standards. Pat Moss would have gotten the crisis in her Swedish sports car in today's world, surrounded by SUVs the size of small trucks. However, the said sonnet I was traveling with had a critical flaw. And Pat Moss wouldn't have liked that at all. It had a four-stroke V4 under the hood. Not a robust 3-cylinder 2-stroke, as only the 258 models produced from 1966 to 1967 have.

The early sound of Trollhättan

Add in the incomparable sound of the 3 cylinders, and you get a car experience for all your senses. Anyone who turns up their noses because of the 2-Takt engine, has to relearn. A Saab 2-Takter never spreads the maw of socialism. An 2 Tact Saab, that's the early sound of Trollhättan. A sound experience that sounds like Midsommar Rallye and Rikspokalen, Erik Carlsson and Pat Moss on the gravel roads of the Coupe de Alpes.

In Trollhättan you saw the Saab 97 as a serious sports car, and not a few of its owners as well. Often, the vehicles were converted by private drivers and successfully used in motor racing. With the 2 clock engine was the model year 1968 conclusion. Saab introduced the sonnet with V4 engine and shocking 4 bars. And the cast iron fans wept bitterly. The bonnet of the sonnet got missed a scoop, otherwise the V4 would not have fit. The design, which was not uncontroversial from the beginning, was not particularly conducive to the change. Because of this, the rare 2 Tacts are considered the nicer variant of the model.

Sonett II with 2 bars - a rarity

The few sports cars that were produced in 1966 almost all stayed in Sweden. Almost all of the 67 production was exported, most of it to North America. It is correspondingly difficult to buy a Sonett II 2-stroke.

In Sweden, at the current Bil Web Auction, a sonnet from 1967 for sale. Like most vehicles originally exported to North America, it was brought back to Europe in 2008. There the sorting van, which was not built in Trollhättan, but by ASJ in Arlöv, was extensively restored. The Saab has been registered in Sweden again since 2017, the owner drove around 4.500 kilometers, then the engine had to be overhauled.

On this occasion, the 2-stroke engine was optimized, it now has around 85 hp. The Sonett II is equipped with a Halda Speedpilot and an original Heuer stopwatch, just as Pat Moss and the unforgettable Erik Carlsson once rode with it. Even the map pocket and the lamp for reading the maps correspond to the equipment of the Saab factory cars.

Desired - or not desired?

The course of the auction until May 10th should be a test. Sonett 2-stroke are actually considered rare and popular. However, there is a crisis in the Swedish sonnet scene. She is obsolete and she has failed to get the youngsters interested in her hobby at the right time. What price will the Saab fetch? Around € 65.000 went into the restoration of the sports car. Money that the owner is unlikely to see again.

I have 2012 on the blog about the birth of the Sonnet II and its antagonist, the hapless Catherina tells. In the end, there is still a fundamental question that is repeatedly discussed: the sonnet or the sonnet? What is correct In everyday language, “the sonnet” has prevailed, in the historical Saab literature “the sonnet” was always mentioned. In relation to this, I chose this spelling on the blog, in my opinion both spellings are permissible.

9 thoughts on "Saab Sonnet II. Sports car with 2 clocks"

  • Very nice Sonett II but really expensive if the seller has to earn his investment back.

  • Many thanks for this story and the details of the sonnet. I always say the sonnet.
    The sound of the Zweitaktsaabs is unique, the Saab Session Slovakia brings regular Polish Saab fans with their 95 and 96, forming their own group.

  • The sonnet is a case for those who are very close to SAAB. For me she is a nice anecdote from the early days, so I can not really start with it. Still important that is written about it. Preserve the ones who forget about the sonnet.

  • I'm probably a minority - I just found the scoop of the V4 cool 🙂

  • SAAB story

    I learned a lot today - not least through the link to Catherina. You should definitely read both articles in one go and look carefully at all the photos and the video and listen carefully (!) ...

    Cool sound (today's video) and what a beauty (Catherina in the 2012 post). And what a thriller. Quote: "It was overlooked that Sason only adhered to the guidelines (...)."

    Quote: “Another hit for Sixten Sason, because he had invented the name“ Sonett ”20 years earlier. Now a project that wasn't his own got his name. "

    I feel for Sixten Sason and know that from my professional practice. If the guidelines were supposedly or actually bad, nobody can remember ever having made them. If an idea is good, some people like to imagine that they figured it out on their own (after tearing it up in midair) ...

    How many times have I been sitting in meetings and (with a certain amount of time) letting my own input and ideas be explained, just as if I had never made or never uttered them?

    Well, Swedes are probably only human too. Great cinema that Tom digs deep enough into history to be honored where credit is due. Catherina is a beauty. Cheers to Sason and thanks to Tom for the enlightening reading pleasure ...

  • very nice! The culmination of the absurdity.
    My grandfather, former owner of a sonnet ll and two sonnet lll, always speaks with a male article about the sonnet.

  • Oh yeah! I remember the last SAAB festival. There was two-stroke power in the air! Before, I never thought that two-stroke can sound so good (Trabant ??). Then I knew it. Just awesome.

    • No Trabant but still a (western) German and not a Swedish engine working in the SAAB.
      In the last few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, eastern Germany was smiled at so intensely for its 2-stroke engine that one completely forgets that the principle was propagated by supporters and manufacturers for many years in the west as well. I have a historical advertisement whose tenor is that a 3-cylinder 2-stroke is the equivalent but smarter version of a 6-cylinder 4-stroke ...

      • PS

        Interesting that this can also be read well on the Sonnet II. The V4 had almost exactly double the engine capacity but little more torque (which used to be earlier) and only 5 PS more than the 60-PS two-stroke engine. Since the Sonett II with the V4 but also 110 Kg (!) Was heavier, no better acceleration was achieved.

        The light (approx. 660 kg) 85 PS sonnet from the article should be an astonishingly lively vehicle ...

        I'll ask my neighbor if he does not want to bid on 2. Just the timing belt is about 30.000 Km before the prescribed change with the obvious consequences torn. As complex and modern as the car was yesterday, it is so broken and worthless today - because of a bad rubber!

        Who knows, maybe the captivatingly simple 2-tact-principle, at least in the classic car scene, will experience a certain revival and old SAABs thus a further revaluation? The powerful and indestructible 2-Takt-Diesel old US trucks have long been cult status.

        Speaking of US Truck & Trabant, who would have thought that between these two opposites, that between a filigree cardboard box and the chrome-plated heavy metal block, you would ever find a significant common ground? But now it is like this ...

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