Saabs from around the World

Åse Kleveland, a Woman Who Has Been Driving the Same Saab Sonett for Over 50 Years!

Åse Kleveland and her Saab Sonett V4, Photo by Rigmor Dahl DelphinÅse Kleveland and her Saab Sonett V4, Photo by Rigmor Dahl Delphin

Åse Kleveland a Norwegian singer, guitarist, politician, and activist. She has been an artist since the age of 16, and From 1983–87 she was the leader of the Norwegian Musicians’ Union, what is today called Creo. On behalf of its members, the union leader was a tough negotiating partner for the Ministry of Culture, a ministry she would become head of a few years later (1990). A well-known folk singer and traditional guitarist in Norway, she was appointed Minister of Culture in Norway in 1990 and held the position until 1996.

However, what is more, interesting about this Norwegian woman is her love for cars, or more precisely, her love for only one car – Saab Sonett. In the middle of the pandemic, she has released the music album “På frihjul” together with the halden band Salmon Smokers. On the cover, Åse Kleveland sits on the hood of her Saab Sonett ’68 model, an iconic brand with which she has shared her life since her teens.

Åse Kleveland at Damenes Trafikkløp, 1970 in her Saab Sonett V4
Åse Kleveland at Damenes Trafikkløp, 1970 in her Saab Sonett V4 (photo by Rigmor Dahl Delphin)

In 1968, Åse Kleveland decided to buy a new car – Saab Sonett, after having several car accidents with her Ford Musang. Now she was going to have a car that suited Norwegian winter roads and she fell in love with a brand new Saab Sonett after seeing pictures of it in a magazine. In an interview with a magazine, she said: “The Ford Mustang I owned at the time was not a winter car at all. It was trimmed and had rear-wheel drive, so keeping it on the road when it was slippery was not easy. Therefore, I decided to have a new car and that was when I saw pictures of the gorgeous Saab Sonnet. So I called the factory in Sweden and asked if I could buy one of them. I then drove to Sweden, got to try the car and fell completely in love right away. I knew I had met the car of my life!

When you have the same car for 50 years, you get a close and special relationship with the car. To this day, Åse admits that the car is not perfect, but it is perfect in her eyes. And so it has been for over 50 years, she bought a car for the rest of her life. “You can not expect everything from a 50-year-old car and if you compare it with today’s cars, there is a big difference. But it is said that you become more tolerant of the one you love and that is true here as well. I know what to do if the wipers stop working, which happens quite often. Then just open the hood and fix them yourself.“- she said.

This is also a car that is unusual to see in Norway. This means that many people recognize the car and know who the owner is.

Page from the book "Favorite cars of Norwegians", Page from the book "Favorite cars of Norwegians"
Åse Kleveland’s car is in daily use, something many vintage cars are not. – Page from the book “Favorite cars of Norwegians”

Åse’s interest in cars started very early but did not really take off until she was 16 years old. At the time, in the early 1960s, there was a Ford Mustang in her neighborhood, and it was her love at first sight. Then Åse decided to save money and buy such a car as soon as she got her driver’s license. Shortly after she received her driver’s license, a combination of circumstances led to a red Ford Mustang coming into her yard. She was the happiest in the world then.

After that and even the traffic accidents with the Mustang, she saw an advertisement for Saab Sonett in the magazine and immediately wished to own this small Swedish sports car.

And so, for over 50 years, she has been in love with the same car – the Saab Sonett.