If you’ve read any of my previous spots about General Motors cars, I’ve shared how the company had what seemed at the time a good idea but it ends up getting killed by a bloated corporate culture. This week’s spot, a Saturn Sky, is yet another example.
The Saturn Corporation was created by GM in 1985 and designed to compete against Japanese Imports. Everything was new, dealer network, pricing, workforce, and a brand new plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Marketed as a “different kind of car company”, its cars utilized GM’s advanced spaceframe construction with dent-resistant polymer exterior panels.
Saturn took a lot of resources and when the economy went south in 2008, GM cut Saturn’s development budget leaving them with rebadged cars from other divisions. So Saturn essentially lost its unique selling proposition and production ended in 2009. Its highest level of sales was 1994 with just under 300,000 vehicles marked. Penske Automotive saw an opportunity and tried to buy the brand but it never worked out and another brand faded into the sunset.
This Sky was a fun little car. Initially released in the first quarter of 2006 as a 2007. It was built at GM’s plant in Willmington, Delaware alongside the Pontiac Solstice. It featured 18-inch wheels and was powered by a 2.4 L I4 that produced 177 hp. There were two other options for more fun. A 2.0 L turbocharged direct-injected engine that bumped horsepower up to 260 and a dealer-installed turbo upgrade that ran the ponies up to 290. Wheeee. 0-60 times were around five seconds.
You can find these turbo Red Line editions for sale on the major car sites, anywhere from 12 grand to just under 20 on average. Prices have bumped up quite a bit in the last year or so. I even found one on Hemings for $31,500. These cars were not cheap, to begin with, and while they are holding their values, they really aren’t jumping in value so would not be a great investment but what a fun summer car:)
Have a great weekend and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots.
When you’re driving to the home of the Moon Pie, you need something that boasts American pride and craftsmanship, and that’s what I got from Chevy for a rare trip to Chattanooga, Tenn.
Up rolled a Cajun Red 2019 Chevrolet Equinox and I promptly packed it down for a roughly 1,600-mile roundtrip to Moon Pie central. The gooey s’mores-like treat was a bonus I hadn’t counted on. My goal was hanging with a couple thousand of my plastic modeling friends for the International Plastic Modelers Society’s national convention in Nooga. Continue reading 2019 Chevolet Equinox AWD Premier→
The tale of DeLorean automobiles and their brains and creator, John DeLorean, is a twisted affair that didn’t end well. Yet the DeLorean DMC12, the make’s only car, was quickly famous as the Back to the Future movie car used by Marty McFly to time travel.
Folks remember the DeLorean because of its stainless-steel finish, gull-wing doors and futuristic styling, courtesy of Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. This was a two-seat sports car with an edge, an attitude that hinted at where automotive design might go, but never did. Continue reading Diecast: Autoart DeLorean DMC12→
“I’m a person who looks at the glass as half-full,” she said. “I also believe if you have a problem you better solve it. Because if you don’t solve it, you won’t be here or the company won’t be here.”
That was a statement in an interview with The New York Times that caught my eye by new GM boss Mary Barra at the Detroit Auto Show. I like her attitude and the fact that GM didn’t do its usual by hiring a banking or investment person. I believe she will do well. Read on.
I remember when the Chevy Citation was introduced by General Motors in 1980. This X-body car was Chevy‘s front wheel drive car. Because of the transverse mounted engine, no transmission hump, it had tons of interior space. My experience comes from working at two TV stations where the news department bought entire fleets of Citations. Those entire fleets sometimes spent more time in the shop than gathering the news. I was on a trip from Green Bay to Indianapolis to cover the 500, and on our way back, the clutch gave out just south of Chicago. So it was rush hour, on a Friday, a tow truck comes along, cha-ching, a couple hundred bucks, then tows us to a transmission shop, cha-ching, more hundred bucks. Luckily the shop had a hotel right across from it because we were going to have to stay overnight. So when I get back, this is good, you’ll like this, I hand in my expense account in and the bean counter questions the towing charge, ah, hello, you don’t make deals with tow trucks on the Illinois Tollway at rush hour, and then about the bill for the new clutch. So again, hello, no clutch, no car, so were my photographer and I supposed to push the car from shop to shop? Jeez, these guys. Don’t they know that sometimes you’re in a situation where there is no cheap?
Kind of got off topic there, back to the Citation. It was built to try to fight back the Japanese cars like the Honda Accord, still alive and kicking, and the Volkswagen Dasher, not around anymore. The Citation had through the roof sales its first year and the production lines were unable to keep up with the demand, causing huge delays in delivery to customers, some waiting nine months to receive their vehicle. Can you believe waiting nine months for a car? Well maybe a special one but not this one. First-year sales were more than 800,000, good enough for No. 1 among cars sold in the United States.
The automotive press loved it…but then didn’t
Car and Driver magazine named the Citation their 1980 Car of the Year but there was skullduggery a foot. Turns out that GM provided the writers with specially modified versions of the X-body vehicles in which the often noted torque steer (famous for) had been engineered out. Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver later admitted that they were completely surprised when they later drove a production version. In an article in 2009, the magazine put the Citation on their 10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History list. What a surprise, the 1983 AMC/Renault Alliance was also on the take back list. Go figure.
The reason it made the list was, because like so many other cars of that era (including AMC), were built crappy. Citation owners were having trim bits fall off in their hands, hearing their transmissions groan and seize, and the cars started rusting in a very short time. At times it seemed the suspension in some X-cars wasn’t even bolted in correctly. Because of an on-center dead spot in the steering, the ride motions grew funkier and funkier. GM tried to save the train wreck by introducing the Citation II along with the performance-enhanced Citation X-11. Chevrolet wanted to remind the car buying public that this front wheel drive newcomer was made by the same people as the Corvette and Camaro. It actually won at SCCA events running in the Showroom Stock B class. Bob McConnell drove a 1981 X-11 to SSB National Championships in 1982 and 1984. Of the 1.64 million Citation models built between 1979 and 1985, only 20,574 were in X-11 trim, meaning that surviving examples are a rare sight today.
And we’re done
GM dropped the Citation, and it’s other X-body siblings, after the 1985 model year, ultimately replaced by the L-body Berettacoupe and Corsicasedan in 1987. Better, sort of. This is a familiar car story from the 80’s, a ground-breaking car that never lived up to its billing. You have to wonder had the cars, GM’s or the other manufacturers, displayed both the initial build quality and lasting reliability of the Japanese competition, the automotive world might be very different today.
And they made a promo model
So I found this black one, an ’82, which is pretty good shape for being over 30 years old. Some minor scratches but otherwise everything was good but has little value, around 20 bucks. I suppose somebody might buy it to remind them of their time waiting in the shop. Then I found this Citation, probably a kit, and got a laugh. This guy probably hung around at the junk yards a lot. I know, I know, I’m an AMC guy so shouldn’t be throwing stones.
This is one of my favorite cars, the Chevy Corvair. The compact automobile was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1960–1969 model years. It was the only American-made,mass-produced passenger car to feature a rear-mounted air-cooled engine.
It was General Motors’ response to the growing popularity of small, lightweight imported cars such as the original VW Beetle, as well as to compete with domestic-built compact cars, the Rambler American and Studebaker Lark. The “compact” term was coined by George W. Romney as a euphemism for small cars with a wheelbase of 110 inches (2,794 mm) or less. You didn’t think I’d leave that out, would you?
Corvair variants included a two-door coupe and a convertible, a four-door sedan, and four-door station wagon configurations, and also the more powerful Monza model; and a passenger van, commercial van, and pickup derivatives. My favorite, if I could only have one would be a Monza convertible. The best thing about collecting these cars is that they have to cost a ton of money to acquire on. I found plenty of decent ones for around $10K.
The promo models are also reasonably prices. I found this 60 on Joe Wheat’s site for $70 keeping in mind it is not perfect but not in bad shape for being over 50 years old.
I really like this convertible but to acquire this one costs quite a bit more at $275. Again, like the real cars, the more you pay, the better shape the car is in. I had a promo model a long time ago and writing this blog entry reminds me I should start looking at getting another one.
Do you have a promo model or the real deal to share? We would love to see them.
Even though I have this, what some of my friends call a sickness in my love for AMC cars, I love others too like Corvettes. If I were to win the PowerBall, a big one, a Corvette would be on my list of collector cars to buy. This car defines the word “cool”. Heck it was so cool in the 70’s that astronauts were given these. At the Johnson Space Center, the lot was filled with them. Which one do I like best? Well I like them all but if I had to choose just one, bummer, I would go for a 63. I love the split rear window of the coupe but also love the convertible. Again, like promo cars, the price of the real deal will depend on its conditions and options. Entry level for a drivable one can be around $30-$40 grand but if you would want a showroom quality one, just like it came off the factory line in St. Louis where it was first built, be ready to spend into six figures! Well I not sure about you but I have several mouths to feed, a mortgage and a car loan on my 2008 Chrysler Pacifica. Boy I wish they still made that. Sorry, editorial comment. Continue reading Own a Vette without taking out a second mortgage.→
Buick‘s duce and a quarter is what car guys called the Electra 225. My best friend’s dad owned several of these. They were big with lots of power, they were, well, a Buick. The Electra was a full-size premium automobile built by the Buick division of General Motors. The Electra name (in various manners) was used by Buick between 1959 and 1990. It was a big car and with a 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8 had more than enough power to move it around. It used the C body platform which is shared with Cadillac and Oldsmobile. One in decent condition can start at 20K. I saw one in super great shape on Hemmings.com which was going for 60K.
I always like Pontiacs, maybe because one of my grandfathers owned a dealership. Even though I was just a kid, I remember going to visit and there was always something new in the driveway. This model though comes from my wires side of the family as they bought one in 1958 and were given the car I’ll talk about soon. Maybe it’s also because like AMC, they are now an orphan brand after GM killed the brand in 2005.
The first generation, produced in 1958, came as a coupe or a convertible and paced the Indy 500. Not only great styling but also lots of get up and go. It came with a 300 horsepower, 370 cubic inch V8 with a four-barrel carb and dual exhausts. They also offered fuel injection as an option but it wasn’t ever popular because it was a high-price option at $500. Tell me how many options you could get nowadays for that?
My promo model has seen better days. There’s only a little bit of warp in the body and all the chrome is there along with some scratches on the hood, however the big minus is that the steering rim is broken. I’ve seen much better ones on eBay going for around $110. That’s not a bad price to hold a piece of history in your hands and never have to worry about rust or engine problems.