The honest American import figure: 1997 Saturn SC2

During the 1980s and 1990s the Big 3 bled market share to the Japanese imports especially in small cars.  The Japanese figured out that they could make small cars feel sporty and they would be far more desirable than the American offerings at the time.  Compare the Civic to the Omni/Chevette/Sprint/Escort. But in 1991 a new American car company released a car that had a shot at winning back some of the customers from the Japanese.

Saturn was introduced as a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors and they introduced a sedan (SL) and a coupe (SC). (The wagon with the SW moniker came later). These were small, efficient cars with a single overhead cam or dual overhead cam engine (both with the same 1.9 liter displacement). Their claim to fame were their plastic body panels.

In 1995 Saturn revised the lineup with a more modern interior and a more streamlined exterior. The fundamentals were the same and overall these were reliable cars when maintained well with good examples passing 350,000 miles.

This 1997 (20 years old already?!?) Saturn SC2 has the dual overhead cam engine with 132 horsepower and the 5-speed manual transmission. The seats have a scruffy seat cover so we’ll assume that there is some damage to the fabric underneath. But these cars have aged well and could provide fun, economical transportation. And with the plastic body panels you wouldn’t have to worry about dings from your local Walmart’s parking lot.  Is $1600 worth the chance at dent free driving?

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