Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Event: The Saturn Lasted for 19 Years.

New York Times: A Painful Departure for G.M. Brands.

My parents bought one of the first Saturns off the line in '91, and it was a great little car. Not super comfortable, perhaps, and it rattled at high speeds, but great mileage and it felt versatile. This was the car I learned to drive in, and it served me through high school and much of college.

In '96 the Saturn set aside its cool, saavy, expressive face in favor of a bulkier, more rounded look. It also set aside about 10 mpg. I remember noticing this at the time, with dismay. I wasn't paying for the car, but I was helping to pay for gas. I remember thinking, "I couldn't even afford gas one of these newer Saturns."

Saturn, which Roger Smith unveiled as a "process car" that would both revitalize management-labor-consumer relations and effetively fight compact imports was a massive expenditure, already several billion in the red by the time the first car ran off the line. By the time it had the momentum to perhaps start turning a profit, its best vehicles, and debatably its best years, were already behind it.

I'm really couldn't care much less about Hummer and Saab. I agree, Pontiac is an icon, and it will be sad to see it go. But so much was invested in the Saturn experiment that to see it go down so precipitately... it's a disappointment.

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