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rustyvw Dork
8/8/20 5:32 p.m.

On Tuesday, I saw a Sonnet III for the first time.  Now I own one, not the one I looked at.  It's definitely rough, but it runs and drives great.  I forgot how much fun 65 horsepower could be.  Who does everone recommend for parts for these things?  The mechanicals are great, but the cosmetics and interior could use some love.  

02Pilot UltraDork
8/8/20 5:58 p.m.

Excellent. I feel adventurous owning my C900, but that's a whole different level of weird and obscure. Is that one with the Ford V4?

8/8/20 6:10 p.m.

Yep, it's got the Taunus. This post is making me look for Sonnet's again.

Last I had heard, the 'coasting' bearing meant for when it had the 2-stroke is also a critical part and has never been reproduced.

outasite HalfDork
8/8/20 6:23 p.m.

My son bought a Sonett V4 back in the 90s. After watching me replace plugs, points, condenser, adjust the timing and carb, he asked, "Where did you learn how to do that?" I guess he had no idea what put food on his table, roof over his head and clothes on his back for the past 25 years.

Rust was what finally took it off the road.

dean1484 MegaDork
8/8/20 6:41 p.m.

Wait. I just realized who you are (Facebook). That is a way cool car. 

rustyvw Dork
8/8/20 8:46 p.m.

The freewheel transmission is very weird, I downshift because it's what i'm used to doing, and it doesn't do anything.  I might have to try to do away with it. 

The V4 sounds a lot better than I thought it would, and it pulls strong.  These things are fun to drive.

TurnerX19 SuperDork
8/8/20 9:23 p.m.

I was a multiple owner and serviced 1/2 dozen customer Sonetts 1978 to 1987. Permanently locking out the free wheel requires a partial disassembly of the transaxle , but (if all still functions correctly) is possible by pulling a T handle under the dash. They failed frequently enough that I welded a whole bunch of them. If you want to retain it i made a tool to re-install the rollers, and would give it away if I can find it. I welded my own cars. 

Watch for chassis rust. The floors, and the rear transverse box that mounts the center of the axle beam are the common failures.

Take the nose off to work in the engine room. The first time you do it will take a while, but the access improvement is well worth it. After the second time you will do it in under 20 minutes. Rear body is held on by big rivets, and is also reasonable to R&R if you need to.

Big improvement in chassis dynamic can be had by adding diagonal braces from the front spring towers to the outer upper corners of the monocoque. 1"X .060" round tube welded to the spring towers and a square sheet steel plate that is riveted to the tub corners. Can't weld there with the rear body installed! 

There used to be a really neat performance exhaust made by Motor Sport Service from Jamestown NY that gave a goodly power bump and great sound. Alas they are no more.sad

procainestart Dork
8/8/20 10:51 p.m.

For Sonett stuff, try Jack Ashcraft, in Oregon:


His stepson was/is on this board. 

Other info resources:







914Driver MegaDork
8/9/20 7:05 a.m.

Great car. In for updates


Vajingo New Reader
8/9/20 10:06 a.m.

That car is begging for a Miata roller skate underneath it. 

jimbbski SuperDork
8/9/20 10:45 a.m.

My nephew worked for a SAAB dealer years ago. He just did oil changes and cleaned up the shop. One day a friend of the owner dropped off an Sonnet III to be sold on their used car lot.  My nephew just had to have that car and ended up buying it.  The trans gave out just a month later and the car sat for years before I convinced him to sell it to a friend of mine who races one in vintage races here in the midwest.

Now he can make the Sonnet haul. In the rain he blows away cars with 3 times the horsepower!

XLR99 (Forum Supporter)
XLR99 (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/9/20 11:01 a.m.

In reply to Vajingo :

If I had money, brains, stillz and time (or even a couple of them), Id love to build  a Locost-ish frame for one with a Capri V6 so it would look stock-ish under the hood.

Powar (Forum Supporter)
Powar (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/9/20 1:41 p.m.

Very cool. I sold my Sonetts years ago after staring at them in by garage for a little too long and never driving either of them. Everyone covered the basics for parts and information. The Facebook Saab groups seem to be pretty active, but that's no replacement for a good forum like this one. It sounds like there are a few of us here with V4 experience. My current V4 is a '72 95 and is all stock aside from a 2bbl manifold and carb. The single best upgrade that I've done to one was the Jetex exhaust (from Skandix) that I installed on my '69 96 DeLuxe when I had it. It sounded great and really seemed to open things up.

iceracer MegaDork
8/9/20 2:07 p.m.

In reply to rustyvw :

You can lock out the free wheeling feature.  There should be a handle under the dash.    If not there is a lever on the top of the transmission.

No need for expensive work.    On my 96 injected I removed the handle and just put the lever on the transmission in lockout .   Worked fine for lots of racing and DD. 

914Driver MegaDork
8/9/20 3:32 p.m.

Rusty, I've got a set of cork valve cover gaskets if you'd like.  Free. 

TurnerX19 SuperDork
8/9/20 3:44 p.m.

In reply to iceracer :

I saw a number of them so broken that they would not lock out with the control lever, and one that spit the rollers out and destroyed the entire trans. I believe the origin of the damage is people who lock/unlock it with the car in motion.

rustyvw Dork
8/9/20 3:54 p.m.

Thanks for the advice guys.  I love it here, no matter what car I mention there will be people familiar with it.  I'll keep everyone posted on how this goes.  The first thing is getting the headlights working, the lever is currently disconnected.  Next will be a smaller steering wheel since it's a tight squeeze getting my legs under.  

rustyvw Dork
8/9/20 7:49 p.m.

In reply to 914Driver :

I'll cover shipping.  Just tell me how much/

914Driver MegaDork
8/10/20 6:23 a.m.

PM your snail mail address.


ddavidv PowerDork
8/10/20 6:32 a.m.

I worked at a dealer for a half dozen years. Sonnetts were all long gone by then but we would get the occasional phone call for parts.

I spoke to a factory rep once about them and he said the Sonnetts weren't built on a 'regular' production line. They were somewhat more hand built. He told me that a lot of the hardware on them could be inconsistent because if they would run out of something they would send someone to the local hardware store to buy whatever would work.

TurnerX19 SuperDork
8/10/20 9:31 a.m.

In reply to ddavidv :

Having disassembled/parted out several I would concur with this. The chassis tub is clearly a shortened 96. The seam is evident, and the way the rear inner fender is capped off is hand formed for sure. Also of interest is that they did not sell them to the home market. As new cars only the USA and France got them. total production of all variants is only 9,000 units, so well worth saving. Less common than a Lotus Elan.

rustyvw Dork
10/23/20 10:01 p.m.


It's been a while since I posted about the Sonnet.  When I bought it the headlights didn't open at all because the linkage was hooked up wrong.  I finally figured that out and got them to come up.  Next was the wiring.  Since the whole nose comes off in one piece, Saab put plugs at the front so that you can easily disconnect the wiring.  Mine was all chopped off at the connectors.  After a lot of swearing, I finally got it all reconnected.  Now when I pull the handle, the lights come up and everything turns on.  I'm one step closer to making this my daily driver.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/24/20 5:58 a.m.

In reply to rustyvw :


rustyvw Dork
12/12/20 10:10 p.m.


Got all the lights working today.  I'm almost ready to get an inspection sticker.  I'm almost ready to make this a daily driver.

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