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Saab Sonett – Rare as Hen’s Teeth
Of all the obscure cars from Scandinavia, the Saab Sonett is the most pretty and the most frustratingly elusive. As I remember there was a Sonnett 3 in a Top Trumps card game in the 1970s, but we at Influx towers don’t think we’ve ever seen one in the flesh.
The revolutionary two seater that became the Saab Sonett first rolled out of production in 1954. Enthusiast sites reckon that designer Sixten Sason is supposed to have utterred a Swedish word that meant ‘how nice’ when the first design was mounted on its chassis. So, the Sonett is named vaguely after an affectionate Swedish epithet.
That car’s body was apparently formed from a blend of aluminium sheets and plastic moulded panels that were welded together to form a sculptural hull. This influenced Colin Chapman, years later, who created the Lotus Elite’s fibreglass monocoque using a similar technique.
Despite claims that the Sonett was able to make close to 130MPH from a 57 hp engine, the car never made it to production life: Jenson were set to build the bodies in the UK (as they had done for the Volvo p1800) but the deal was never sealed and only 6 of the cars were ever produced.
Premiered at the 1966 Geneva motor show, the second version of the Sonett came with a two-stroke-engine and a steel chassis with tubular elements. Evolving through around 4000 production units, the car was made until 1970 with various engines and exterior detailing – but it was twisted evolution that gave the car an awkward, bug-eyed aspect.
The Sonnett 3 was commissioned from MIlan-based designer Sergio Coggiola, and the eventual car was graced with firbreglass sculptural elements by Saab’s inhouse team. It retains it’s rather unique form, though the long nose format was much more Italianate than the previous versions.
It’s easy to get hold of Sonett 3s in the states, so it is said, but stone me if I have ever seen one grace British streets. But of course, you may know different.
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