If you like quirky or unusual sports cars, you could do a lot worse than looking at the offerings from Sweden. Volvo’s P1800 and Saab’s Sonett are two very different cars, though they do have one basic thing in common – they use plenty of parts from their more common siblings. As for the differences, the P1800 is more of a luxurious, GT-type car, while the Sonett was more of a reasonably-priced sports car, up against cars like the Opel GT, Datsun 240Z, and Triumph GT6+. In period, its performance was far from the front of the pack, but now it’s an interesting artifact of an extinct company. Check out this 1973 Saab Sonett III for sale for $3600 in Sweet Home, OR (wait, what?).
This car is not trying to hide its age with cosmetic surgery – instead, it wears it gracefully and stands up straight. The orange paint is still as bright as in 1973, the door stripes still remind you this odd little wedge is a Saab, while the gloss is not so bright, and there are scuffs and some wear-through on the paint to let you know it’s in its 42nd year. A 1973 Sonett III would likely have had the clunky rubber bumpers on late Sonetts, but even if it had the slimmer earlier version, they’ve been removed. Soccer ball wheels are the essential upgrade for these (though Minilites look pretty cool here), and on the Sonetts, they look cleaner in monotone silver rather than the black & silver seen on other Saabs. Importantly, they’re said to wear excellent tires.
Evidently, the manual pop-up lights are in good order. The large bumper wasn’t so bad on the rear end of the car, but it really altered the appearance of the front in kind of a mustache-on-the-Mona-Lisa way. That said, this solution will not do anything to protect your fragile fiberglass and 42-year-old plastic grill in a parking lot. The seller concedes the car could use body work and a paint job, but it seems pretty good as-is. The floor panels, trunk floor and sills are all said to be rust-free, unusual at this price level.
The interior looks in decent shape, with clean, tear-free upholstery on the seats and their lumbar support cushions, and decent carpet that could probably stand some cleaning. Nothing in the immediate passenger compartment appears to have been cut for speakers, surprising given the opening for a radio on the dash. The gauge cluster is nicely designed, and the 3-spoke wheel is a classic look, and at this point it’s almost fair to consider the steering wheel wrap to be a period accessory. There is said to be some interior installation required, but from the picture it’s not readily obvious what’s missing.
Ah, here are the speaker holes. You’ll almost have to find something to fill these holes and the ones on the dash, and if you’re using the car regularly as you should, there’s no shame in wanting to listen to music or news while you’re driving. There’s no picture of the V4 engine, but it’s said to start up and run great, and the 4-speed manual transmission is said to work well. Orange on brown is an oh-so-70s color combination, and unlike some other trends, it hasn’t come back yet, but given the overall condition of the car, and the very fair price, Saab fans should be filling this seller’s voicemail.