I was saddened yesterday to learn that the deal General Motors struck with the Penske group to save their Saturn brand had fallen through, and so now will be phased out.
The first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant 14 years ago was tell my family.
The second thing I did was shop for a new car to replace the 11-year-old clunker I'd been driving. As we live in Los Angeles, we spend a lot of time in our vehicles, and I wanted my baby to be safe.
I couldn't afford my first choice Volvo, which has always enjoyed a reputation for safety... but as it turned out, the next best thing was in my price range: a 1996 Saturn SL1.
Safety was not the only thing I found appealing about Saturn: I loved the fact that shopping for one was as simple as buying a department store dress. The price on the sticker was the price you paid (what a concept!); no one ever asked you "What would it take to sell you this car today?"
I loved my Saturn's polymer body, which resisted dents so well that a decade later, the car still looked new. I loved the fact that maintenance on the vehicle was simple and cheap. I especially loved meeting other owners, one of whom was a tow-truck operator who purchased his Saturn after seeing how well they fared in crashes.
And I got a kick out of the fact that buying the car was like a celebration: Before driving it off the lot, my salesman took a Polaroid photo of me and my new SL1, which they dated and posted on the wall of the dealership, along with similar shots of every person who purchased one of their cars. They invited me to come back to auto maintenance clinics and annual barbecues for Saturn owners... and the factory in Spring Hill held a yearly "reunion," inviting owners from all over the country to come and party at their facility.Continued on the next page