Posts from ‘Saturn’
This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concepts topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
Apart from being the home of Consumer Guide Automotive, Lincolnwood, Illinois is a rather ordinary municipality. Adjacent to Chicago’s Northwest Side, Lincolnwood is a middle-income community of 12,000 citizens, most of whom appear to be in their seventies. I intend to retire someplace with less traffic, but I digress.
Saturn executives had reason to feel confident in 1997. In just six years on the market, the fledgling brand had accrued 1.5 million customers and was on pace to sell another 300,000 cars in the coming 12 months. Saturn was on fire, and the division’s management was eager to continue making good news.
Introduced for 2003, the Saturn Ion was the long, long overdue replacement for the brand’s popular, but seriously dated, SL sedan and SC coupe.
By now, you know the story. In a post-apocalyptic haze, driven by Wall Street pundits, the UAW, and the federal government, General Motors killed three brands in one fell swoop. Just like that, Hummer, Pontiac, and Saab were transformed from viable sales channels to discount retailers, peddling their remaining inventory in limited variations and at steep discounts.
This year, American new-vehicle shoppers will snap up about half a million minivans. Now, while that may seem like a lot of people-movers, it’s worth noting that minivans accounted for more than 1.2 million annual sales as recently as model-year 2000.
Funny thing about the memory–it doesn’t let you know when things begin to fade beyond easy recall. I realized last week that I can no longer remember the name of my fifth-grade science teacher. I rather expected to remember all my grammar-school teachers on my deathbed. Looks like that plan is off.
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
You hear often enough that ugly vehicles are the product of “design by committee” thinking. I can’t help but wonder, in the case of the five cars and trucks listed here, why no one on that committee raised his or her hand and noted, “Dude, that thing’s nasty.” But, be it too many or too few decision-makers in the design studio, these are some unpleasant-looking machines.
Not to speak ill of the dead, but it seems that General Motors is doing just fine without Pontiac and Saturn, and it doesn’t look like Ford misses Mercury very much. In our hearts, we knew that the clock was ticking for all three of those marques, but it took the fallout of an economic catastrophe to really nail the coffins shut.