It felt like the future — those first Saturns, from a new factory, with plastic body panels that looked like steel but wouldn't rust, built with a unique peace agreement between the UAW and General Motors, driven by chairman Roger Smith. The Saturn SL1s and SL2s weren't fast or great handling cars, but they were competent and modern, something GM hadn't been able to accomplish in a small car since the Corvair. That first truckload that left Spring Hill, Tenn., on this date in 1990 sold quickly, and were it not for a recession Saturn would have met it sales targets.
But Saturn was too different to survive; it needed too many resources from GM's other divisions, and its cars were too unique from the rest of the company. Already starving for cash, Saturn became the runt of GM's litter, losing out on new models that would have kept it alive. Plastic body panels turned out to be more expensive to build; the Spring Hill plant shut down during GM's bankruptcy before being reopened. By the time GM killed Saturn, the promise it held had long dimmed. Which is too bad, because GM could use the kind of customers who want to spend their vacations at a factory picnic:
Read More »from October 11: The first truckload of Saturns leaves the factory on this date in 1990