Saab Sonett III
|Also called||Saab 97|
|Predecessor||Saab Sonett V4 (Sonett II body with Ford V4 engine)|
|Engine||Ford Taunus V4 engine|
|Wheelbase||~2,150 mm (85 in)|
|Length||3,900 mm (150 in)|
|Width||1,500 mm (59 in)|
|Curb weight||880 kg (1,900 lb)|
|Related||Saab Sonett II|
|Designer(s)||Sergio Coggiola, Gunnar A. Sjögren|
The 1970 redesign of the Sonett V4, named the Sonett III, was initially undertaken by Sergio Coggiola, but Gunnar A. Sjögren altered it to fit the existing chassis without expensive manufacturing-line changes. Hinged rear-window glass replaced the Sonett II/V4 rear compartment hatch door. With the mandate for a "bulge-less" hood, the engine compartment opening evolved into a small front popup panel, resulting in more limited access than in the Sonett V4. Extensive engine work required the removal of the entire front hood section.
To help adapt the car to U.S. market tastes, the Sonett III featured a floor-mounted shifter (instead of the Sonett V4 column-mounted shifter) and optional dealer-installed air conditioning. Like the Opel GT, the Sonett III's hidden headlamps were operated manually using a lever. US safety regulations required new bumpers after 1972, significantly detracting from its Italian-inspired design.
While the 1970 and 1971 model years initially had the same 1500 cc Ford V4 engine as the Sonett V4, emission control requirements reduced the available horsepower. The model years 1971 to 1974 of the Sonett III used the 1700 cc Ford V4, but to meet increasingly strict Federal regulations, net power output remained the same as the 1500 cc engine, at 65 horsepower (48 kW). Still, the Sonett III accelerated from 0–100 km/h (0–63 mph) in 13 seconds, and—due to a higher differential gear ratio (42 teeth on the ring gear and 9 teeth on the pinion gear) than the standard 95/96 transmission (39:8)—achieved a top speed of 165 km/h (103 mph), aided by a low 0.31 drag coefficient.
Disappointing sales, especially during the 1973 oil crisis, led Saab to end production in 1974. A total of 8,368 Sonett IIIs were manufactured between 1970 and 1974.
As of 2010[update], in the USA Sonett II models for sale are generally in better condition than Sonett V4 and Sonett III models. Kriss Motors Corporation compiles a Sonett valuation guide based on a survey of recent sales data; the condition of each car is classified as Concours (new or better-than-new condition), Excellent, Good, Fair, Restorable, or Parts Car.
The average Sonett II is in Good condition; the average Sonett V4 or III is no better than Fair condition. Fewer than 25 concours Sonetts were known to exist in 2010[update]; high-range valuations for concours Sonetts ranged from about US$28,000 for a Sonett III to about US$45,000 for a Sonett II.