Watch This Awesome Saab Sonnett Bonneville Record Holder Make A Dyno Pull With Its 3-Cylinder 2-Stroke Engine!

Watch This Awesome Saab Sonnett Bonneville Record Holder Make A Dyno Pull With Its 3-Cylinder 2-Stroke Engine!

The Saab Sonnett was a minuscule sports car offered by the Swedish company in three different generations. Small, light, front wheel drive, and fun to operate, they were not sold in huge numbers here but those that drove them seemed to like them. Positive media reviews in period sports car magazines prove out that these were fairly cheap, fairly fun sports car if you drove them like you hated them. This particular unit is Tom Donney’s Saab Story Bonneville land speed racing car. Yes, you are looking at a Saab Sonnett Bonneville record holder! Running in the I/GT category the car has gone 127mph and running the J/GT category the car has gone 123. How? Awesomely, that’s how.

The car is powered by the same style of engine that it had from the factory, a three cylinder, two stroke inliner that measured out to 841cc when stock. We are guessing that this one has been bored and all you really need to know is that as a J motor at Bonneville can be a MAX of 45ci. From Saab originally this little engine was making 59hp. You will see that Donney’s screaming version is now making more than 113 to the wheels. That is an immense increase on a percentage basis and boy do those 8,000 RPM sound awesome!

Donney’s car is the perfect example of the majority of the machines that race on the salt. They were labors of love, created and maintained by owners who are challenging their own skills and ability. This is not some million dollar car. Donney has years of time, blood, sweat, and work into the car but it is not something that he’s leveraged his life to compete in.

Some of you may scoff at the speeds involved here but we think they are amazing. And taking a 59hp factory engine and doubling its output…to the tires?! Yeah, THAT is BangShifty.

Press play to see this little Saab scream to the heavens at 8,000 RPM

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6 thoughts on “Watch This Awesome Saab Sonnett Bonneville Record Holder Make A Dyno Pull With Its 3-Cylinder 2-Stroke Engine!

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    I’d have liked to know how they got all that extra power as I can’t see any obvious tuning gear on the motor.

  2. BKBridges

    I Had a chance to wander around in the basement of the guy (Dr Max Fiedler) that designed the Saabs motor. Amongst other things down there was a full race tuned 3 cylinder Saab motor on a home made dyno. Lots of other goodies related to 2 stroke small displacement diesels as well.

  3. Mark Watkins

    If it is a 2-cycle, power comes from: 1)building the correct expansion chambers, in terms of length, cone angle and bleed 2) reshaping the cylinder head shape and volume 3)enlarging transfer ports and adjusting their placement 4)ignition timing. One of the gurus of 2-cycle performance, Tom Turner, ran 9\’s with a 400cc 2-stroke Yamaha. Power is there if you are willing to chase it.

  4. DanStokes

    I’ve had the pleasure of hanging with Tom and crew at Bonneville and I can tell that not only is the car a neat little piece, but Tom is a great guy. If you get a chance to see the Sonnett run, GO!


  5. oldguy

    Under 2000lbs + a 2 stroke 3 banger
    took a new one for a test drive in ’73 or so
    it would chirp the tires on 1-2 and 2-3 upshifts
    handling was go kart like – interesting little car

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