Monthly Archives: November 2018

1968 Saab Sonett II project

This car was found in Pocatello, Idaho.  The sons of a Saab enthusiast who had passed away decided to clean out his shop.  The Dad had a nice Sonnet III with a bad engine, so they  put the Sonett II engine in it. Until then the Sonnet II ran and drove, about 2005.   They kept the Sonett III  and sold me the Sonett  II  and a rusty Sonnet III body.   I stuck both in the barn, as I was still improving my runnable ’71 sonnet, and working full time too.

The Sonnet II is  a custom of sorts- at some point in the past, the big back window  must have broken.  It was replaced with a smaller window, in plastic, and the larger area was fiberglassed in, and the new  upper surface was covered with  black textured vinyl.  It looks like a good quality pro job.  Also, at some point, the forward part of the  top was cut so the car is now a Targa. This was done less than professionally. It was trimmed out with rubber stripping.  It will probably need oak top bows to stiffen the  main top, and provide a better ledge for the removable panel. They said it was a blast to drive.   The interior was redone in orange plush fabric, and there were signs of early 70’s  orange shag carpet too.  So, it is an Idaho Country Custom.

This fall, I pulled the Sonett II into the shop and started  examining what I got. I had hopes of plunking a decent  engine into it and getting it running fairly easily.  No such luck.   After I cleaned out the inside of the vehicle, it became clear that the right inner & outer rocker panels, and about 12″ of the right floor need to be replaced. The left floor is fairly good, outer rocker is a bit cheesy, so I’ll leave it until later.  The rear trunk floor is also in need of replacement, and the vinyl cover on the top could use replacement too.   I decided that this was too heavy a project for a guy who just had his right shoulder replaced, so it has gone back in the barn for the moment, and I’m looking at various replacement panels from different suppliers.   If anyone has a trunk floor,  a set of rockers and a good  right half of the floor  kicking around , which you didn’t use on your project, let me know….

Since a lot for sandblasting and welding, etc will need to be done, spring will be a better time to do it, when I can roll the car outdoors for the messy part of the work.

From the underside, it appears that the front of the pan is still solidly attached to the nose structure. The left rocker looks original, I may eventually change the outer panel. The right rocker has already been replaced once before, fairly professionally, but it is pop riveted on, and the metal is too light, so it didn’t last. This will still be a big job.

I’m also thinking of making a stiffening subframe for the car, using existing suspension attachment points and  square tubular steel  stock.   VW convertibles  had a factory-added  “rim” of tubular steel welded under the pan,  to stiffen the body and  make up for the flexible top.   It works pretty well, and reduces cowl shake.  Has anyone out there done this for a Sonett?  Just another custom feature….

The car has an original 1968 Idaho plate, with a more modern sticker. You can apply to use a “year of manufacture” plate in Idaho. Maybe I’ll resurrect that too.


Summer 2018 Resto project: 1965 VW

I rescued this bug from some kids in Jackson,WY about 30 years ago. It had belonged to the Elder family- some of you might recognize the name Jim Elder, he wrote articals for Car & Driver and Road & Track, plus he and Sava Malachowski  created the original winter safety video for WYDOT  “Driving on Ice”   ( no doubt inspired  by their  experience driving around Jackson Hole in winter in a variety of Volvos, Saabs and VW’s)      The kids  blew the engine and beat up the fenders a little, but only had it for about 3 months. I eventually found a good engine for it, knocked out the fender dents, primed them, and  put it on antique plates.  I would drive it some, and work on it a little here and there,  and it was fun but continued to look like an old kid’s car.  This spring, a friend discovered a semi-retired body man in Idaho Falls who likes to do smaller jobs for grub money in-between hiking and berry-picking expeditions. He did a great job on James’ Nissan.  I eventually prevailed on him to do the final finishing and paint work on my bug, no pressure, in his spare time.  The result is great!  Of course, I spent a lot of time on the car doing  the last mechanical chores and fix-up prior to the paint job… then I resembled everything, well cleaned and polished, after the paint job. And his price was very reasonable.



Now I can take it to the local auto events and park it with the “nice”  cars!

Nope, not for sale. Just  want people to know I do finish projects eventually.