Penske Auto Group on the short list to buy Saturn
Penske has emerged as the front runner to buy Saturn from GM. Most people I know who have them are satisfied. Penske distributes the Smart Car in the US. He has been a big player in Michigan for a long time. But, this is a huge step. Wonder if he can save it?

Sounds like a Texas Hold 'em “all in”.

I’d love to see some company like Penske make a go a Saturn (never owned one but embraced the concept).

In a recent NY Times article about the closing of Saturn dealers a dealer owner was quoted as saying something like (not a direct quote), “Saturn was conceived as a totally new brand with a different business model but it just became another GM brand.”

Making a go of a one brand domestic auto company is a huge challenge. In manufacturing, particularly automobiles, economy of scale is very important. I’d like to see it happen but I don’t think I would bet the ranch on it working.

They started with fiberglass bodies. That was a great idea. I heard Fiero was just a chance to debug the technology for Saturn and that they did not intend to continue making it.
I would like to see Penske do it. I heard that he would occasionally go to one his factories and give a guy a day off. Then he would do their job for a whole shift.

Since the OP is really searching for opinions, let’s move this.

samclem Moderator, General Questions

Well, there’s this other little GM division called “Corvette” that used plenty of fiberglass.

In general, there’s no other technology in the Fiero that was ever in a Saturn. Space-frame vs. Unibody. Rear engine and drive vs. front engine and drive. And come to think of it, weren’t the Saturn bolt-on body panels some type of plastic-like composite rather than fiberglass?

In any case, the first big step towards the GM-ization of Saturn came when their union wanted to come under the national GM contract at a time when GM employees were receiving bonuses, and they weren’t (despite the fact that the tables had been turned up to that point). It’s a shame they have to divest Saturn; they’ve had (and this is a matter of taste) the most disappointing lineup since their inception, and only recently do they have an exciting product! Of course, there’s no accounting for taste; I’ve always been a Pontiac fan, and they’re being eliminated as well.

I was working in the GM Tech center when Saturn was being conceived. They had a pile of plastic fenders and parts . We were checking the different colors to make sure they had gone all the way through. The technology was not just a carryover from Vette. It was not totally divorced from it either. But mass producing parts is quite a bit different from the comparatively lower production of the Vette. The idea was to make a damaged fender replaceable with a couple of bolts. We also had to make them cheap enough. It is always a challenge.
I saw a program not long ago showing GM was putting a huge amount of money into producing a new Pontiac in the mode of the hot Camaro. I guess that will be all wasted money now.

I hate using trendy expressions on the boards, but…


I’ve owned two Saturns, and they were terrific cars. But in the last year or so Saturn has changed from being a great company to deal with, to being insufferable.

The Saturn service department was half the reason for buying one, and I wrote at least one letter to my dealership thanking them for exceptional work. No more. Now they have the same negative vibe I sense at any other dealership.

It’s gotten so bad, I have gone back to taking my current Saturn to the neighborhood garage.

Of all the things people bitch about in American cars, it amazes me how rarely dealerships are mentioned. Get a few people together and mention auto dealerships and horror stories will follow. Almost everybody has been burned by them of been totally pissed off at them.

If this works, I hope for the sake of… sanity, I guess, that the ridiculous “hybrids” of Saturns get thrown right into the bin until they learn how to do it right. A hybrid that doesn’t even get 30 mpg isn’t worth buying. And certainly wasn’t worth spending money to develop. What a waste.

I own two Saturns and they’re in great shape (my '93 is holding up much better than my Chevette when it was this old). But Saturn really hasn’t been the same since they dropped the original design (which is a great-looking car – it just doesn’t look like everything else, which appears to be a design crime these days).

Saturns were originally space frame design with plastic panels for doors and sides (I was always amused by that Volkswagon ad showing some guy desperately jumping to stop a shopping cart from hitting his car. Wimp. On a Saturn, the cart would just bounce off.).

But Saturn isn’t what it used to be. Our dealer is pretty good with the service, at least (there was one time years ago when they replaced a 75-cent part and then were very upset that they had done it without first telling me and getting my approval), though I have done some work at my local shop.

I’d still look at a Saturn the next time I’m looking. Hopefully, this switch will help: all they really need to do is get back to their roots.

I hope that Saturn gets the chance to shine again. I bought a Saturn SL in late 91 (bought the 92 SL and got in in January that year) and never regretted the decision.

I absolutely LOVE my car still! The poor thing is falling apart cosmetically, etc. since it’s been sitting outdoors most of its life, but the gas mileage is still incredible. In fact, I get better mileage now than I did when I first got it. The past two times I’ve gotten gas, my mileage was 37mpg! I’ve gotten as high as 41mpg!! (It is a stick shift, but still – a 17 year old car getting that kind of mileage?!?)

I was heartbroken, disconsolate, when it was stolen back in '03 (there’s a thread about it somewhere here) and ecstatic when I got it back 13 days later.

Since I had to go on Disability and now live on a fixed income, I no longer can take it to the dealer like I used to for oil changes, etc. I’ve known the guys there from day one and they always did little things to make my bill easier or whatever just to say “thanks” that I still went there. They used to be comparable to other oil change places or even cheaper than most garages for repairs, but the last time I needed a repair done, I would have paid almost twice the amount for said repair.

My car fits me so well, I dread (and I do mean dread) the day I may have to get a new vehicle. I will look at Saturn, but that’s only if it’s still around!

The only car that has ever turned my head from my SL was the 2007 Saab 93 2.0T. That was the most fun driving I think I ever had!

I’m not sure what Penske is going to do with Saturn. I mean, OK, he gets the dealer network, but as was mentioned upthread, all of its models (with the exception of the Astra) are badge-engineered versions of other products GM sells, so what are they going to do?

Saturn Vue – Chevy Eqinox
Saturn Aura – Chevy Malibu
Saturn Sky – Pontiac Solstice

Even the Astra is actually just an Opel vehicle brought in from GM’s european operations. The only car they might get is the sky/solstice, because Pontiac is closing as well.

The Solstice is pretty nice. But the billions GM spent developing the new street rod would probably go along with the package. I do not know if a high powered street rod is a viable enterprise nowadays. He may think it is. Penske is heavily involved in racing.

I rented a Solstice a while ago, and I would hardly call it a high-powered street rod - acceleration was average at best, and the steering was very sluggish, considering it’s target market. The top wouldn’t stay put, and for such a big, wide two-seater, the interior space was cramped (I’m average height). I imagine the Sky is the same, given it’s really just a reskinned Solstice - I much prefer my Altima Coupe.

At the same time however, I can’t wait to see what Penske can do with a more mainstream marque, so I’m hoping he succeeds.

He’s talking about the upcoming Camaro replacement, not the Solstice.

FYI, the target market for the Solstice/Skyy is the Miata/MX-5 market: hairdressers. I doubt more than 10% of buyers give a fig about its handling.

When you buy an auto brand one would think that agreements would be made so that GM would have to provide the shared components for some time at some agreed upon price. I’m not sure the brand “Saturn” has much value if they can’t make the cars in it’s lineup any more. And it seems to be in GMs interest to sell as many of it’s platforms as possible even if they are going into non-GM cars. I’m not sure they are in a position to be provincial.

Er…I’m not sure how that saves them any money, or provides any incentive for the new Saturn. If you have to buy the parts from the same suppliers and foot the same overhead costs as before, how are you saving money?

Penske already is a supplier . He is involved in diesels ,trucks and some components. He has the 2nd largest auto dealership in the world. This is not venturing into a foreign field. Most people I know who had Saturns liked them. If he can tap that market it will give him a head start.

Who the hell are you referring to? Who is “you” in this statement?

Ohhh - my bad.

No argument here.