1970 Saab Sonett III (Now at Tom Donney Motors)
2 Seat Coupe Sports Car w/Ford V4 engine
In the 1970s the Sonett design started to feel a bit outdated. In the USA, the motoring press railed against its appearance while extolling its handling characteristics. For their new design, to be called the Sonett III, Saab called in Sergio Coggiola. It was important that the middle section would be unaltered, but Coggiola ignored that and made a significantly wider car. The Coggiola design was altered by Gunnar A. Sgren to fit the middle section. The hinged rear window glass itself became the hatch to the rear luggage compartment, improving the access. The engine compartment, however, was accessed via a small, matt-black panel in the top of the front section.
For extensive work, the entire front section had to be unbolted and removed. Coggiola’s name did not appear on the new car, perhaps because his proposed design had been altered so much. Due to demands from the US market, the Sonett III had a floor shifter instead of the column shifter as used in previous models. It also came with optional dealer installed air conditioning, also a request from the US market. In ‘quirky’ Saab fashion, the retractable headlamps were swiveled by means of a system of manually operated levers. In 1973, the car received the Saab self-repairing bumpers (fenders).
The Sonett III had the type indicator ’97′ in the chassis number and used the same Ford V4 engine as before, with 1500 cc in 1970 and 1971, and a 1700 cc in later versions (in order to handle the new US emissions controls. Both engine types gave 65 hp. The Sonett III made 0-60 in 13 s and due to a ‘longer’ differential gear ratio, had a top speed of 165 km/h. The drag factor was 0.31. Production was ended in 1974 due to stricter automobile emissions control in the USA. A total of 10,219 Saab 97 (Sonett II and III) were made.
*Information was provided by SAAB USA from a past press release*