In Memorandum, Saturn


I don’t even remember the genesis of this post. All I know is, I was checking out another blog or post of mine or whatever, and I used this as a response.

Saturn never had an identity until the Vue, Sky and Aura. The Ion was a rental lot queen, except for the Cobalt based Ion Red Line and anything other than that was named SL or L300 or some junk like that. The traction they gained as a company came towards the end of production.

This comment, that I don’t remember where and/or when I made it, kinda sparked this post. As we all know, Saturn has been deceased for near seven or eight years now. While it did give us some memories such as the Sky Redline and…umm…shopping cart reflective body panels? Ok. So, maybe Saturn being a “memorable” brand is as accurate as saying Pontiac was the “excitement” division and Oldsmobile wasn’t GM’s “parts bin” brand. Pontiac, pre-GXP designations, was as exciting as photosynthesis and Oldsmobile was composed primarily of cars that didn’t pass GM’s Quality Assuarance department. Saturn was also a parts bin brand and also a bargain brand to boot. And like that, here goes a whole post about Saturn.

Saturn was created back in the late 80’s, when we were just getting over the fuel crisis of the 70s. Or better yet, well past the fuel crisis but still feeling the effects. Everybody was down sizing from massive land yachts and Saturn, which was just a code name at the time, was the answer to a question that General Motors asked. 

Originally, the Saturn Concept Car, which was basically the concept version of the Saturn SL was meant to be produced under another brand and Saturn was never meant to be its own start up. GM decided to turn Saturn into its own brand, the Saturn Corporation, and started the brand out with the S-Series (Sedan, Coupe and Wagon), with the SL and SC as it’s first two models. Eventually, the SW would be released and plans for an SUV were down the pipeline, but wouldn’t come to fruition until the Vue in the 2000s.

While the early days at Saturn were met will mass popularity and “no haggle” pricing, the brand never met the projected sales targets and hurt GM more than it helped. Seeing as GM had so many marquee brands under its umbrella, Saturn was more or less just another shark in an overcrowded fish tank. The only difference with this “shark” was that Saturn was a separate entity from GM in a way and the amount of money Saturn took, would have been better if repurposed elsewhere. Either way ten years, two million cars later and the turn of the century meant it was time for something new, the L-Series, a larger option.


The turn of the century also brought the Vue, the Ion (the S-Series replacement) and the Relay which was a Saturn-ized Chevrolet Uplander. The Aura (L-Series replacement) and Sky were rebadged Opels and the Outlook was a Vue that hit puberty. The later days of Saturn Corporation, from a design standpoint weren’t too bad. While the Aura, Outlook, and Vue featured improved design, and the Relay looked like a Chevy Uplander with Saturn badges, the true standout was the Sky. Granted the Saturn Sky was just a rebadged Opel GT, it was still sexy. You also got to choose between the “Green Line” which were environmentally friendly, fuel sipping trims and the “Red Line” which wasn’t the fastest, but definitely a lot more sport than we saw from Saturn in the past.

Even with these new models, that changed the overall look of Saturn’s design, the bailout in 2008, which prompted the sale of Saturn among other brands, which ultimately failed, led to the demise of Saturn by 2010.

The one thing Saturn did was bring compact and cheap cars to General Motors. Unfortunately, like Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saab and some other brands in GM’s stable, poor advertising, poor badge engineering and “parts bin” composed cars, is what killed Saturn. It was a little too late to inject a personality in Saturn. By the time GM decided that it was necessary, we just pawned off Saturn as a spare parts bin, dent resistant body panel cars.

My quote, 

Saturn never had an identity until the Vue, Sky and Aura. The Ion was a rental lot queen, except for the Cobalt based Ion Red Line and anything other than that was named SL or L300 or some junk like that. The traction they gained as a company came towards the end of production.

Is actually truth. Their severe lack of an identity, with exception to dent resistant panels, is why Saturn is dead. 

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