The diminutive car featured a lightweight alloy box-type monocoque chassis derived from aircraft design and was powered by Saab’s proven 748 cc two-stroke, three-cylinder engine. It made almost 60 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and would provide the car with a top speed of around 120 miles per hour.
Although the number was already used by a Saab aircraft project, the experimental car was dubbed the 94. It was also called the Sonett, which derives from a Swedish phrase that roughly translates to “how neat it is.”
The original Sonett would prove to be a dead end for Saab, but the name and sports car concept were revived in the following decade for what would become one of the most beloved cars Saab ever built.
After extensive tests of the car without bodywork, Saab corporate was convinced of the car’s potential for racing and sales and an advanced (for the mid-1950s) fiberglass body was stretched over the prototype, which weighed in at well under 1,500 pounds.
Another reason for Saab’s enthusiasm for the Sonett project was the popularity of sports cars in the US market, which Saab was planning to break into in the spring of 1956.
By 1957, Saab planned for 2,000 Sonetts to to be built per year, likely with a metal body and folding roof with actual production outsourced to a company like Jensen in the UK.
Just before 1958, however, rules changes for the kind of racing the Sonett was intended for discouraged Saab enough to halt the plans for a sports car and keep building (and racing) the more pedestrian automobiles they were already doing well with. In the end, only six Sonett Is were made, including the aluminum chassis prototype and the other five experimental cars.