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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NINE HUNDRED LIVES

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In the last few months, the 900 has done itself proud. Not only has it been used pretty much as a daily driver, but has been a worthy companion for my son whilst he learns to drive. It has also taken us faultlessly on a 400 mile road trip to Snowdonia and home again.

On motorways it cruised quietly and comfortably, whilst also managing to feel as nimble as a mountain goat on the wonderfully indulgent, Snowdonian curves. It’s easy to see why so many people fall in love with these classic Saabs, they’re ridiculously easy to live with.

More recently, I joined the SaabFest in Warwickshire, where we picked up a beautifully preserved T16 leather steering wheel to replace to shabby rubber one, I’ve also crafted a set of ‘outlaw’ roof bars. I found some Yakima gutter towers on eBay, and then made the cross bars out of 30mm seasoned Oak – the natural wood looks fantastic with the Scarab Green.

As easy as it is to live with, it’s a 25 year old car, and has a lengthy to-do list, the dash lights still aren’t fixed and I need to add some new washer hoses as they keep dropping off. The new exhaust also has a tendency to knock over some bumps which needs sorting, but this truly is a fantastic car and quite rightly deserves it’s iconic status.

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Resurrecting a Classic. Crafting an Outlaw

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Over 3 months ago I purchased what looked like a very nicely maintained 900 classic in Scarab Green, all I can say is, looks can be deceiving.

It’s previous keeper had owned it for a number of years together with another 900 classic and had come to a point where he couldn’t maintain both, so advertised this one for sale. On the surface of it, it drove beautifully, had reasonably tidy bodywork and a decent interior. We collected it from Birmingham and had a pleasant return journey.

Morning came and I went outside to find 2 flat tyres and a flat battery, hum, not a good start. I got the foot pump out, boosted the battery from the 9-3 convertible and got it down to Malcom Miles as fast as I could – until a few weeks ago, that’s where it’s been, intensive care for Saabs.

Although it was pretty solid overall, it had rusted in pretty much every normal area these classics go in. After nearly £500 on welding alone, including a partial front end rebuild, it was given a full waxoil and finally feels as though it’s back to its tank like solidity again.

Although it already seemed to drive beautifully, it’s undergone a full and thorough service, with new radiator, brake discs and pads, a full stainless steel exhaust, thermostat, correct battery, hoses, wires and numerous other items to ensure reliability for years to come. We’ve sorted the stance too, Abbott Racing lowered springs and a set of Bilstein shocks.

This is never going to be a perfect example of a classic 900, but I wanted to keep another great Saab on the road, an everyday driver that wore its battle scars with pride, a Saab Outlaw shall we say. I’ve gone for a set of 17 inch graphite, 5 spoke alloys from Driftworks with slightly stretched Falken rubber, we’ve changed the dash over for one without a million cracks and also managed to pop in a full on Turbo cluster with working Turbo gauge.

In my normal excitement I also purchased everything required to convert it in to an Aero spec T16S – body kit, Turbo, ECU, Intercooler and even the Turbo badges, but as this is a father and son project and will be enjoyed by us both, we’re leaving it off until his initial new driver issues have been overcome, an LPT is plenty enough for now!

I had secretly kept a set of 9000 Aero front seats to pop in, but the grey velour ones already fitted are ridiculously comfortable and are pretty much in perfect condition, so they’ll remain for now.

Next up, I’m currently searching for an old school roof rack and rear window louvers, so if anyone knows of some available, please, please give me a shout, i’d be forever grateful.

*Photos courtesy of my iPhone 6 only (sorry).

And another Classic 900 Turbo

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I know I’ve only just featured another gorgeous classic 900 Turbo from Taiwan recently, but after stumbling across this build, I couldn’t resist and had to share it. This one’s from the Netherlands, by a tuning house called KC Performance.

It’s the colour combo that got me – deep, rich carbon grey exterior with a completely bespoke, caramel brown, perforated leather interior, and it sure looks stunning. To me this is pretty much a perfect 900 Turbo, subtle styling details such as the lowered stance, white indicators and carbon touches, together with two tone Aero wheels give it an utterly timeless beauty.

Although the Saab has covered some 290,000 kilometres, the B202 engine has been subject to a complete rebuild and with the help of KC Performance mapping is now running a Stage 3 at around 240hp, a complete Simmons twin exhaust finishes things off nicely.

Full spec and refurb details here

 

Saab Classic 900 Turbo from Taiwan

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A real nice film short of a Saab 900 Turbo restoration from Taiwan, if fact, it has to be one of the smartest, shiniest 900 Turbo’s I’ve seen for a while. The stance is just right, it’s got by far the best Aero alloys and even the retro louvered rear window cover looks perfect on the car. Beautiful work.

Wunderschöner Saab 900 Turbo

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Always interested in searching out the cheapest and most expensive Saabs for sale and this is a really fantastic example from Germany.

Simply described as ‘wonderful Saab 900 Turbo in Amaranth Red metallic clearcoat with Bokhara red velor deluxe carré interior . The vehicle has been extensively renovated’ from the pictures, i’d tend to agree.

With just 117,000 miles on the clock, manual gearbox, super cosy interior and a sunroof, this once really would be a keeper, even at the asking price of €15,800.

For sale here.

An Acquired Taste

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Let’s face it, we all know Saabs are an acquired taste, you either love them, live with their shortcomings and spend entire days refining them, or you just don’t. To me I quite like that there are no half measures, no middle ground. Ok, so people don’t get why we love them so much, but hey, that’s life.

I recently found this episode of TUNED featuring the seriously cool Matt Farah, I love this film, not least because it features 2 of my favourite Saabs – a classic 900 SPG and a 9-3 Viggen, but because it shows the ‘either you get it or you don’t’ Saab thing. The owner, a real Saabist, loves them, so much so he’s taken the SPG to a different level of sorted, and when he was faced with having to accommodate a family, he plumped for one of the ultimate 4 door Saabs, a 9-3 Viggen. On the other hand, although Matt Farah has some great things to say about Saabs, they just don’t float his boat.

A great film just for the sound of the 900’s turbo alone.