Sunday, January 4, 2009

Saturn S-Series: I Love Mine

Back in 1994, I decided I needed to buy a car. With a new baby, I needed a four-door automobile. At the time, I was driving a 1985 Honda Accord Hatchback.It wasn't a bad car, but it got horrible gas mileage. Unusual for a Honda, you say. Well, there were reasons for this.

The original Honda CVCC engine had a carburetor. As the emission standards changed from year to year, they kept adding more devices in order to meet the standards. I once worked on a 1982 Honda Prelude. This engine had about 7 vacuum hoses. By comparison, my 1985 had 70 vacuum hoses. And when those devices were not working correctly -- the engine wouldn't quite run correctly. Honda fixed this problem in 1986, when all their cars switched to electronic fuel injection. Not so for my little hatchback.

One hot July day, the Honda finally gave up the ghost with a cracked block. At the time the Saturn S-series was pretty new, and I went to look at them. I test drove an SL1 automatic that I really liked. I also went and test drove a Honda Civic Wagon. It wasn't as nice as the Saturn, but the dealership quoted me over $4,000 more. Heck, for that price, I'd buy the Saturn. So, I did.

I drove that car like crazy for the next nine and a half years. In that time, I put 144,000 miles on it. It was a great car. Never left me stranded, got great gas mileage -- and all on very little maintenance. It was a tough little car. OK, so at 144,000 miles, it burned a bit of oil -- you generally had to put in a half quart at each fill-up. This worried my wife, so, on her advice, we traded it in on another car.

The Saturn S-series really was a different kind of car. It was a great experiment by GM -- new design, new technology, new sales team. Sadly, though, the experiment didn't pan out, and now Saturn is just another label GM sticks on platform cars designed by other divisions.

Recently, when gas prices were over $4.00 a gallon, I bought another Saturn -- an 1995 SC1 manual. Unlike my 1994 SL1, it actually has cup holders. I'm amazed at how much I enjoy driving it. This is not a sports car, or a hot rod. It's basic automobile. Plus, getting about 30+ mpg doesn't hurt, either, even with gas prices down to a more reasonable level.

Too bad GM no longer builds the Saturn S-series. With more cars likes this, perhaps GM wouldn't be needing a bailout.


  1. Gee, I was told that it was more like "I can't believe she bought a freaking car!!"

    Found you, BTW.

    88 (if I remember that correctly...)

  2. So, when are you going to get a dual-band radio installed in that new car?

  3. There are a few repairs to make to a 13-year-old car with 125,000 miles on it. I may have to replace the heater core. And I can't mount my Alinco dual-bander in the same place I did in the SL1, since it would block access to the rear seat on the passenger side. Eventually, I'll figure it out.

  4. If your Alinco doesn't already have a remotable control head, I'd suggest considering swapping it for one that does. When console space is tight, it certainly gives you more options for where you mount the radio and controls.

  5. What I'd like to install is an IC-706MKIIG or an IC-7000. That would give me 2m and 440, plus the ability to work HF mobile. (And it would also put me on 6m)

    But, those things cost money, which as you know always seems to be in limited supply.

  6. Gee, your children thing you are made of money.