A Sonett Sonnet

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I have a love, hate relationship with the Saab Sonett
It’s got a petite rear and a huge bonnet
Originally designed in the 1950’s by Rolf Mellde
He was a Saab engine developer, all round genius and welder

I can’t be bothered to keep that up for another 3 quatrains, so back to normal scribbling.

As I say, not a Saab I instantly loved, but I came across a few exceptionally beautiful ones at this year’s SaabFest, all three were represented, although I’m not entirely sure the red Sonett I was actually a Sonett I at all (someone please correct me if I’m wrong), but all absolutely immaculate. The tan leather interior in the red Sonett III was truly beautiful, although I doubt i’d fit.

I don’t usually get in to specific histories, as I tend to get some information incorrect and really don’t want a deluge of ‘you’ve got this wrong’ but the Sonett has such an interesting past, I couldn’t resist, so please bare with me.

Back in the 50’s a Saab engine developer and race enthusiast, Rolf Mellde, collaborated with a few other Saab folks to design a roadster prototype in one of the spare barns on the Saab factory site in Åsaka, near Trollhättan. With a minuscule budget of just 75,000 Kronor, they single handedly crafted what soon became known as the Sonett, a name derived from the Swedish phrase Så-nätt-den-är which literally translates to ‘it’s so neat’.

Sadly, only a handful of Sonett I’s were manufactured, but in the 60’s, Björn Karlström suggested that Saab continue to develop the roadster, which they did, initially with a tiny two stroke engine and then switching to a V4 engine in ’64. Only very limited numbers of the Sonett II’s were manufactured, but in ’67, with some design enhancements and mass production more accessible, this became the Sonett V4 and enabled Saab to manufacture over 1,500 in total.

1970 came and saw Sergio Coggiola and later Gunnar A. Sjögren redesign the Sonett V4 which became known as the final version, the Sonett III. This final edition had 65hp, 0-60 in 13 seconds and a top speed of 103mph. Sonett production ended in ’73 with some 8,000 having been manufactured.

I’m still not sure I’d set out to own one, but respect the one’s that do, this is another important part of our Saab heritage and so pleased to see these immaculate examples.

Watch the Sonett in action from CineCars

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Dutch Sonett

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I’m not normally a huge fan of the Saab Sonett, but I stumbled across this fantastic film short over on CineCars, featuring an immaculate red Sonett II and had to share it.

The film is in Dutch, but has subtitles with some great statements about the Saab.

“People sometimes describe the Sonett as a Ferrari that shrunk in the washing machine” and “It’s a real Saab, a Saab 96 with a shortened wheelbase and a faster engine”

Well worth a watch:

A Saab Arctic Adventure

Spotted this one over on SaabsUnited, great find, pretty much sums up why I love Saab –  they always took things to extremes, nothing but perfection was good enough. Back in 2011 they treated a select group of global journalists to a full on Arctic experience, 200km north of the Arctic Circle, fantastic.

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Arctic experience, Saab style:

 

The Highest High Mile Club Saab

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A few weeks ago I received yet another Saab to join the High Mile Club, this great 9-5 Sportwagon comes from its homelands of Sweden coincidentally.

It has proudly covered some 650,000 km that’s 483,891 miles since leaving the showroom back in 2003 with just routine maintenance and a load of enjoyable driving.

I’ll soon be adding this, along with others to the High Mile Club page and apologies to anyone who’s sent theirs in recently too – life gets in the way sometimes.

The Swedish Collection. 9-4X Aero

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‘We are proud to present the new and exciting mid-size Crossover – the Saab 9-4X. It is designed with a typical Scandinavian approach to outdoor living and respect for nature. It combines more performance, better handling and greater responsibility in an extremely versatile package. We even invited two Big Mountain skiers to take part in its development. All to make sure that this car always performs at its peak. So if you’re keen to explore all the adventures of life, welcome to an inspiring new territory.’

Taken from the Saab 9-4X UK brochure.

Alongside the stunningly beautiful 9-5NG SportCombi, Michél owns another rare and equally beautiful Saab – a 9-4X Aero.

Finished in a deep, Crystal Red, and treated to a Hirsch 330hp upgrade, the 2.8 Turbo V6 has proved its worth when the snow starts to fall in Sweden. Michél says it’s a pleasure to own and drive and is an eminently capable crossover that still manages to deliver that hard to define Saabness.

On icy mornings, the remote start kicks the silky smooth V6 into action, whilst the interior with it’s soft black heated leather, electric seats and stylish dash manage to wrap you in supreme Saab comfort and safety.

As with all Saabs, it features some exceptional design touches including the electronic tailgate, ice-block headlights and blacked out B pillars reinforcing its aerospace heritage. It also shares a similar, full width tailgate light and badge design with the 9-5NG which really does look stunning in reality.

Michael says the 9-4X gets a lot of attention wherever he goes, and so it should. Yet again, it was a real privilege to see yet another rare Saab, tack Michél.

The 9-3s up next.

The Swedish Collection. 9-5NG SportCombi

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Whilst over in Sweden, I accepted a very kind invitation to visit another huge Saabist, Michèl Annink. He lives with his family in an absolutely stunning part of the country, surrounded by exceptional views, water, trees and Saabs.

We were warmly greeted with iced water, coffee, hot Cinnamon buns and spent a few hours talking about our shared love of Saabs, Michèl kindly let me take a few photos of his impressive collection and I’ll be featuring them in 3 parts.

First up is a Saab that I think we all hoped and prayed would reach every Saab showroom, and to me, possibly one of the most beautiful Saabs ever crafted, the 9-5NG Sportcombi.

Michèl owns one of the few SportCombis in the world and together with the support of his family, has worked tirelessly to gain road legal approval in Sweden.

It is clad in gleaming Arctic White with full Aero styling, a Hirsch exhaust system that sounds absolutely mind-blowing and rests on a set of 19” edge alloys. Purposefully lowered by about 40mm it also has a fantastic stance.

Inside, Michèl has retro fitted full Aero heated and vented sports seats together with a number of original Saab options and most recently, a high end touch screen navigation system.

Sitting alongside our (begrudgingly) hired Audi A6 wagon, there really was no comparison, the Saab oozed modern style and unique presence. It’s a Saab that demands attention.

Tack Michèl, it was great to meet you all and a real privilege to see this great Saab. Long may it bring you pleasure.

More about the unique 9-5NG SportCombi here and here

The stunning 9-4X to follow shortly.

Made in Sweden

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I always knew there would be far more Saabs in Sweden than here in England, but I wasn’t quite prepared for their overwhelming presence, they seemed to line literally every leafy street.

What was so satisfying to see was that they’re still part of everyday life, hidden on Archipelago driveways and in secret Stockholm courtyards, shopping centre car parks and elegant cobbled streets of the old town of Gamla Stan.

I felt at ease in Sweden, almost like home, it wasn’t just being surrounded by Saabs, but everything they’ve come to represent – simple, refined style, understated and elegant, yet utterly modern and unique in a world of conformity.

These Saabs are an integral part of Swedishness, they remain a highly visible reminder of the exceptional, innovative design capability of the country and proudly whisper to every traveller ‘Made in Sweden’

I returned home feeling highly privileged to be part of such a great heritage – I’ll be back.

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