More Lamenting – 1973 Saab Sonett III

As I mentioned in the last post, I grew up with a succession of Saabs in the family, and as such, I was quite sad to see Saab go. While they were not the same company by the time the lights were turned off, what with the overweight 9-5 and the overaged and somewhat bland 9-3, it looked like hope was just around the corner (kind of like Pontiac, honestly). And let’s face it, no car company is like they were in the 1980s, or the 1960s, and to some degree they’re much better for it. When was the last time you took a family road trip to Yosemite and the exhaust fell off the car, and you had to tie it up by the side of the road so you could drive to a rental car agency to finish the trip in a 1985 Camry? For my family, that was in 1985… Anyway, enough rambling, and back to nostalgia, where things were always better. Like this 1973 Saab Sonett III, listed in Gardena, CA for $1700.

1973 Saab Sonett III left front

Pretty sweet, isn’t it? Unfortunately, 1973 brought the big rubber bumpers, which you can barely see here. On these cars, which have a light, simple design, they look really clunky, unlike on their 99 siblings. That said, the yellow is a great color for a small, early 1970s sports car, and you get the sweet soccer ball wheels as part of the deal. It also still has its California blue/yellow plates, which suggests it’s been there since at least the 1980s, if not since new. Bonus points for figuring out what the car is that’s parked in front of it – it looks too small to be a Ponton-bodied Mercedes, so is it a Hillman, a Rover, or a Borgward Isabella, or something else?

1973 Saab Sonett III left rear

According to the seller the engine runs well, and the car has four new tires. You know the body has no dents (ha!), so the main thing to worry about is rust under the car. More on that later. It’s certainly far more complete than the MGBs parked behind it.

1973 Saab Sonett III interior

Wow, the interior looks surprisingly decent. All the vinyl is in decent shape – if anything, the carpet might need a good cleaning/replacement and the steering wheel needs some light refurbishment on the spokes. The triple gauge cluster in front of the three-spoke wheel makes for quite a sporting look, even if the car could only get from 0 to 60 in 13 seconds. There doesn’t appear to be much of the usual Saab weirdness, although is that the a/c temperature knob on the left end of the dash?

1973 Saab Sonett III trunk

Lastly, here is the extremely efficient passenger ventilation system – I believe it was called “flow-through” ventilation when the car was made. Or, just kidding, you’ll have to get friendly with a welder. However, if this is all the rust damage (which is entirely possible – imagine a leaking hatch and where the water would collect in this car’s trunk), this would be a great occasion to teach yourself some panel-forming welding skills. Get yourself a welding book, a welder, and make up some patch panels. If it turns out less than perfect, no big deal – you still saved a unique old car from someone’s back lot, and you can cover up your work with carpet!


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