Monday, March 2, 2009

A Saab Opinion / A Saab Sonnet For sale

Saab filed the Swedish equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. This was more of an organizational move than a financial move. It clears the way for Saab to divorce itself from its parent company, General Motors, and gives it some time to restructure its debt. (While not stated in the filing, the reason for the "divorce" is pretty simple... The Swedish government is not about to give money to a US owned car manufacturer and the US government does not want to see its bailout money going to the foreign subsidiaries of a US automaker. That pretty much leaves Saab in limbo)

I have no doubt that 10 years from now Saab will still be in business and still selling cars in the US. In fact, if I was in the market for a new car right now, I'd seriously look into buying a Saab, new or used. Bankruptcy is never good publicity and used car prices will drop, while dealers will do whatever it takes to entice customers into their showrooms for new cars.

I have a few friends who are die hard Saab fans. They've all been critical of GMs handling of the Saab line, saying from the beginning how badly GM "screwed up Saab". I agree and disagree. GM did not handle the Saab line very well. GM should have realized that Saab could never compete head to head with BMW and Audi and moved it downmarket to compete with Volkswagen. The 9-2X, also known as the "Saabaru", was a huge image blunder. But, the bottom line is Saab wasn't making money when GM bought them. It's been GMs cash that has kept them in business.

Some entity will buy Saab at some point. Probably not soon, as the economy has every company rethinking investments and new purchases, but it will happen. That company will need to re-think the Saab brand. I can't say it enough, but a move downmarket into VW territory is a must . Saab's well deserved reputation for safety, reliability, performance and environmentally friendly cars (something Saab was doing way before it was "hip" to do) must be emphasized. I'm certain any company buying Saab will look at GMs mistakes, will make some corrections, and Saab will be a better, stronger line of cars because of it.

Anyway, enough of my two-cents...

Saab has built some very interesting cars over the years. One of the least known, outside of Saab and sports car circles, was the Saab Sonett.

The Sonett started life in 1956. It was a 2 seat convertible, powered by a 750cc two-stroke engine. The car was made of fiberglass, weighed just over 1300 lbs, so even with the tiny engine was capable of almost 100MPH. Very few of these cars were made.

A new and different Sonett was developed in the 1960s. A hardtop instead of a convertible, it initially also had a two-stroke engine. It was called the Sonnet II. Around 1967 Saab started making the Sonnet II with a more traditional engine in it... More traditional in that it wasn't a two-stroke, but not quite traditional in that it was a V4 (sourced from Ford of Europe)

The Sonnet must of us know is the Sonnett III. Like the Sonnet II, it was made of fiberglass and was powered by the V4 engine. A thoroughly modern design, it's wedge shape and interesting styling cues made it stand apart from it's competitors.

The Saab Sonett 3 being offered on Craigslist appears to be in very nice condition. Being made of fiberglass, the bodies never rust, but the frames, being traditional metal, do. This car is in New England, so it's a good idea to inspect it thoroughly.

Sonnet's are just now getting the respect they deserve as sports cars and prices are slowly starting to rise. Here's a chance to own a piece of Saab's incredibly interesting history at a reasonable price.

Located in Southern Maine, Click here to see the listing for the Saab Sonett 3 (the seller also has a nice 1977 MG Midget listed in the same ad)

Click here to visit SaabSonett.org, a site dedicated to the Sonett.

Click here to find the Saab Network. There is a bulletin board dedicated to the Sonett.

*May 16, 2009 Update - A similar Saab Sonett is now listed on eBay. Click here to see the blog post.

1 comment:

Chris said...

BTW, it is spelled "Sonett", not Sonnet.