A Sonett Sonnet

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I have a love, hate relationship with the Saab Sonett
It’s got a petite rear and a huge bonnet
Originally designed in the 1950’s by Rolf Mellde
He was a Saab engine developer, all round genius and welder

I can’t be bothered to keep that up for another 3 quatrains, so back to normal scribbling.

As I say, not a Saab I instantly loved, but I came across a few exceptionally beautiful ones at this year’s SaabFest, all three were represented, although I’m not entirely sure the red Sonett I was actually a Sonett I at all (someone please correct me if I’m wrong), but all absolutely immaculate. The tan leather interior in the red Sonett III was truly beautiful, although I doubt i’d fit.

I don’t usually get in to specific histories, as I tend to get some information incorrect and really don’t want a deluge of ‘you’ve got this wrong’ but the Sonett has such an interesting past, I couldn’t resist, so please bare with me.

Back in the 50’s a Saab engine developer and race enthusiast, Rolf Mellde, collaborated with a few other Saab folks to design a roadster prototype in one of the spare barns on the Saab factory site in Åsaka, near Trollhättan. With a minuscule budget of just 75,000 Kronor, they single handedly crafted what soon became known as the Sonett, a name derived from the Swedish phrase Så-nätt-den-är which literally translates to ‘it’s so neat’.

Sadly, only a handful of Sonett I’s were manufactured, but in the 60’s, Björn Karlström suggested that Saab continue to develop the roadster, which they did, initially with a tiny two stroke engine and then switching to a V4 engine in ’64. Only very limited numbers of the Sonett II’s were manufactured, but in ’67, with some design enhancements and mass production more accessible, this became the Sonett V4 and enabled Saab to manufacture over 1,500 in total.

1970 came and saw Sergio Coggiola and later Gunnar A. Sjögren redesign the Sonett V4 which became known as the final version, the Sonett III. This final edition had 65hp, 0-60 in 13 seconds and a top speed of 103mph. Sonett production ended in ’73 with some 8,000 having been manufactured.

I’m still not sure I’d set out to own one, but respect the one’s that do, this is another important part of our Saab heritage and so pleased to see these immaculate examples.

Watch the Sonett in action from CineCars

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NINE HUNDRED LIVES

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In the last few months, the 900 has done itself proud. Not only has it been used pretty much as a daily driver, but has been a worthy companion for my son whilst he learns to drive. It has also taken us faultlessly on a 400 mile road trip to Snowdonia and home again.

On motorways it cruised quietly and comfortably, whilst also managing to feel as nimble as a mountain goat on the wonderfully indulgent, Snowdonian curves. It’s easy to see why so many people fall in love with these classic Saabs, they’re ridiculously easy to live with.

More recently, I joined the SaabFest in Warwickshire, where we picked up a beautifully preserved T16 leather steering wheel to replace to shabby rubber one, I’ve also crafted a set of ‘outlaw’ roof bars. I found some Yakima gutter towers on eBay, and then made the cross bars out of 30mm seasoned Oak – the natural wood looks fantastic with the Scarab Green.

As easy as it is to live with, it’s a 25 year old car, and has a lengthy to-do list, the dash lights still aren’t fixed and I need to add some new washer hoses as they keep dropping off. The new exhaust also has a tendency to knock over some bumps which needs sorting, but this truly is a fantastic car and quite rightly deserves it’s iconic status.

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The Turbo Godfather

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I felt that this Saab really deserved an entire post of its own, after all it can easily be described as the undisputed Godfather of Turbos. Launched in the hedonistic 70’s, the 99 Turbo was literally one of the first cars to combine safety and exhilarating turbo performance, it singlehandedly put Saab on a legendary pedestal, which still holds strong today.

This one, in the only acceptable Turbo colour – black, was quite rightly getting a lot of attention at SaabFestUK, a perfect example, unmolested and seemingly unchanged since the day it drove out of the Saab showroom, paintwork immaculate, all accessories intact including some super cool Bosch spotlights and an interior that screamed ‘jump in and drive me’.

I felt myself gravitating to this car over and over again, it’s owner should be hugely proud and also feel just a little bit privileged to be the guardian of such a legendary car.

Gathered under stormy skies

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This weekend saw an impressive gathering of Saabs, new, old and rare for the 2017 Saab Owners Club SaabFest UK. The gathering took place in Hatton Country World, Warwickshire, which proved to be a pretty special location – plenty of space to really showcase our cars.

Sadly, being my disorganised self, I only found out about the event two days before so could only go for one day, I would have loved to get stuck in, chatted Saabs and drunk a few beers for the night, next year maybe.

Needless to say, it was an absolute delight to see so many cars, I’d say close to 500, including a handful of beautifully turned out Sonnetts a unique Saab Friction Test car, some super rare Carlssons and enough others to represent the entire Saab line up from beginning to end, even a spectacularly beautiful 9-3 Independence convertible turned up.

Even though I’ve owned some 15 Saabs and counting, I still feel inspired when I see how much love and attention goes in to keeping these cars on the road. In recent years many Saabs have been scrapped for various reasons, but there continues to be a loyal cult following with an unfading appetite to care for, customise and manufacture bespoke kit to keep the rest going for many, many more years to come – including myself.

Part of the pleasure of these events for me, is being able to take a few photos of other owner’s Saabs – collected to share, inspire and reference against on future projects, I usually over indulge, so will need to spread the love over a few posts.

Thanks to Saab Owners Club for organising such a great gathering, I’d suggest Hatton might be an ideal location for future events, with room for plenty more cars to join us.

p.s. If your Saab’s featured, I really hope you don’t mind, and congratulations, they’re all amazing cars, we should be massively proud of them.

 

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More photos to follow soon.

Things take time

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It’s been a while since my last post, sadly, motivation has seemed to be rather low, but in the meantime, the 900 has been well and truly put through it’s paces. We’ve done almost 3,000 miles in it since it’s recovery, everything from driving lessons to road trips to Wales, it’s sat in heavy traffic, darted along winding country roads and cruised happily along motorways.

For the life of me I can’t understand why more people don’t embrace older cars as daily drivers, the 900 is ridiculously comfortable, it has electric windows and a quiet sunroof, it’s well mannered around town and has a gorgeously distinct burble when you put your foot down, it also commands quite a bit of attention. Young and old just can’t help giving it the thumbs up, from a bunch of hipster skateboarders to a very smart gentleman who couldn’t resist telling me how much he loved Saabs – he’d owned a few in the past and longed to own another.

The work continues though, the sunroof leaks when it rains heavily, the windscreen washer pipes have become brittle and keep falling off, and the new Turbo cluster still isn’t quite right, what I mean by that, is that smoke starts pouring out if I turn off the lights, and there’s no illumination at night.

We’ve also discovered the passenger side arch still has some rust that needs sorting, but lets face it, it doesn’t stop you driving and things just take time.

I’ve managed to source a set of roof bar towers and will be attempting to find some nice spotlights to keep the ‘Swedish Wilderness’ look on track.

The search also continues for something aptly unique to replace the 9-3 Aero convertible, although I’ve been wishing I hadn’t sold the 9-5 Hirsch, that was pretty rare.

Resurrecting a Classic. Crafting an Outlaw

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Over 3 months ago I purchased what looked like a very nicely maintained 900 classic in Scarab Green, all I can say is, looks can be deceiving.

It’s previous keeper had owned it for a number of years together with another 900 classic and had come to a point where he couldn’t maintain both, so advertised this one for sale. On the surface of it, it drove beautifully, had reasonably tidy bodywork and a decent interior. We collected it from Birmingham and had a pleasant return journey.

Morning came and I went outside to find 2 flat tyres and a flat battery, hum, not a good start. I got the foot pump out, boosted the battery from the 9-3 convertible and got it down to Malcom Miles as fast as I could – until a few weeks ago, that’s where it’s been, intensive care for Saabs.

Although it was pretty solid overall, it had rusted in pretty much every normal area these classics go in. After nearly £500 on welding alone, including a partial front end rebuild, it was given a full waxoil and finally feels as though it’s back to its tank like solidity again.

Although it already seemed to drive beautifully, it’s undergone a full and thorough service, with new radiator, brake discs and pads, a full stainless steel exhaust, thermostat, correct battery, hoses, wires and numerous other items to ensure reliability for years to come. We’ve sorted the stance too, Abbott Racing lowered springs and a set of Bilstein shocks.

This is never going to be a perfect example of a classic 900, but I wanted to keep another great Saab on the road, an everyday driver that wore its battle scars with pride, a Saab Outlaw shall we say. I’ve gone for a set of 17 inch graphite, 5 spoke alloys from Driftworks with slightly stretched Falken rubber, we’ve changed the dash over for one without a million cracks and also managed to pop in a full on Turbo cluster with working Turbo gauge.

In my normal excitement I also purchased everything required to convert it in to an Aero spec T16S – body kit, Turbo, ECU, Intercooler and even the Turbo badges, but as this is a father and son project and will be enjoyed by us both, we’re leaving it off until his initial new driver issues have been overcome, an LPT is plenty enough for now!

I had secretly kept a set of 9000 Aero front seats to pop in, but the grey velour ones already fitted are ridiculously comfortable and are pretty much in perfect condition, so they’ll remain for now.

Next up, I’m currently searching for an old school roof rack and rear window louvers, so if anyone knows of some available, please, please give me a shout, i’d be forever grateful.

*Photos courtesy of my iPhone 6 only (sorry).

Boost Matters in Alaska. Outlaw style does too.

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Flicking through Instagram looking for cool Saabs as you do, I came across an image that really made me stop and stare, a classic 900 Aero Turbo, in red with a black tailgate, super nice swooped up exhaust, louvers, roof rack and a seriously tight stance.

Owned by a family man in Alaska, it appears he’s a bit of a Saab fan, and by no means his first Saab project.  This has to be one of the nicest outlaw Saabs I’ve seen, it’s got some real unique detailing which won’t be liked by everyone, but I love.

I don’t know the entire spec, only what I can see and read, but one of the headlights has been replaced with a small LED light leaving more space for the intercooler pipe, an oval has been nicely cut from the hood for a new exhaust, and a huge intercooler sits proudly under the bumper. The standard grille has had the centres removed with a floating Turbo badge revealing 2 Hella horns mounted inside, the springs have been cut to give it the perfect ride height, spacers push out the white Aero wheels and chunky Winter tyres finish it all off nicely.

Power wise, it looks like it produces a very healthy 250hp, and in the owners words, this is what’s been done : 2.1l head / intake manifold, ’85 exhaust cam, 3.0 bar FPR, distributor mod, jak stoll ecu, T5 injectors, 3″ exhaust, wastegate helper spring, Swedish dynamics APC”

Love it when Saabs are given a new lease of life, one thing’s for sure, it looks like it’s been perfectly crafted for the Alaskan landscape.

This is Boost Matters Instagram, well worth a follow