Saab Sonett MK I
1955 to 1957
|Also called||Saab 94, Super Sport prototypes|
|Successor||Saab Sonett II|
|Body style||2-door and 2-seat roadster|
|Engine||748cc three-cylinder Saab two-stroke|
|Curb weight||600 kg (1,323 lb)|
In the 1950s, Rolf Mellde—a Saab engine developer and race enthusiast—along with Lars Olov Olsson, Olle Linkdvist, and Gotta Svensson, designed a two-seat roadster prototype in a barn in Åsaka, near Trollhättan (the site of the main Saab manufacturing facility). The limited research-and-development project, with a total budget of only 75,000 Swedish kronor, became known as the Sonett, a name derived from the Swedish phrase Så nätt den är ("how neat it is", or more literally "so neat they are").
The Saab Sonett, also called the Super Sport or Saab 94, was introduced on 16 March 1956 at Stockholm's Bilsalong (motor show). Boasting a three-cylinder 748 cc two-stroke engine generating 57.5 horsepower (42.9 kW) and a 70 kilograms (150 lb) aluminium box-style chassis from Swedish designer Sixten Sason, the Sonett I was an advanced low-weight 600 kg (1,323 lb) racer based on aircraft design concepts.
With a projected top speed of 120 mph (190 km/h), the Sonett I had the prospect of success on the European race circuit, and a production run of 2,000 units was planned for 1957. However, race competition rules changed, permitting modified production cars into race classes that Saab had envisioned for its purpose-built Sonett, and the economic and marketing viability of the project faded.
Only six Sonett I vehicles were made, between 1955 and early 1957. The original prototype, known as "#1" and built with a manually crafted glass-reinforced plastic (GRP, or "fiberglass") body, served as the reference model for the other five cars. An extremely rare vehicle, only two Sonetts I exist in the United States;one is in the GM Heritage Center collection.
In September 1996, rally driver Erik Carlsson broke the Swedish record for the under–750-cc engine class with a speed of 159.4 km/h (99.0 mph) in the restored Sonett I original prototype "#1"