The planet Saturn may be a gas giant, but the GM car division named in its honor was all about fuel mileage and efficient size. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice SC2 has a couple more tricks up its sleeve. Let’s see how tricky buying it might just be.
In the 1970s, Elvis Presley and Chevy’s Corvette followed similar, downward, trajectories. It would prove a precipitous plunge since at the decade’s outset, each seemed to be at the top of their respective game. As the calendar pages dropped, however, both grew increasingly fat and bloated, eventually morphing into mere caricatures of their former selves. Luckily for Chevy and fans of America’s sports car, the Corvette cleaned up its act, got healthy, and went on to fight another day. Elvis, sadly, died of a heart attack apparently while on the crapper trying to squeeze out a deuce.
Yesterday’s 1971 Chevrolet Corvette 454 was from that top-of-the-game part of the ’70s. It was pre-smog-strangulation and safety suffocation (both great attributes when done right) and with its big block, a four-speed stick, and a convertible top it had a lot to offer. At $37,500, it also asked a lot in return. That was ok with the vast — and I do mean vast — majority of you, who anointed the car, and that price, with a solid 70 percent Nice Dice win.
A classic Corvette would make a wonderful weekend car, something to tool around in when you’re feeling your oats, or to have as a rolling investment. For all the times that you just need to get someplace and don’t want to walk or take the bus, you’re going to need something a bit more practical. There are a lot of cars and trucks out there that could fit the bill. However, for many, a daily driver means something from the Dollar Store, not Neiman Marcus.
Now, if you’re going to get a cheap set of wheels you’re going to buy used and there are a number of safe bets in the market, things like older Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas. Of course, few of us are the types to always take the safe route. For those of us living on society’s frayed edge, this 2001 Saturn SC2 holds a great deal of appeal.
The ad describes the car as “like new” boasting that it is a “real great car.” That like-new appearance is surprising when you note that the car is 20 years old and carries over 175,000 miles on its back. Then there’s the whole issue of it being a Saturn. If you’re unfamiliar or have actively forgotten, Saturn was a GM division birthed by the corporation as a brand specifically engineered to build small cars domestically with the same sort of cost efficiencies realized by competitive import brands. That meant that certain cost-cutting measures had to be taken with the Saturn line and a lot of that is evident in cars like this SC2, especially when it comes to the quality of interior materials. It’s not Yugo crufty, but you wouldn’t mistake the experience of sitting in a Saturn for that of a Corolla or Mazda 3 either.
What appeals, however, is how you get into that cheap but cheery interior. That’s by way of a choice of any one of three doors. The SC2 offered a cool extra suicide-style door behind the driver’s door to make back seat access a little bit easier. Why the company chose to put it on that side, spilling passengers out into traffic rather than on the passenger side is a mystery that I’m too lazy to investigate, but I’m sure there are reasons.
Another cool feature of this SC2 that separates it from more common fare is the bodywork. That’s made up of injection-molded plastic panels on all the doors and fenders. This makes for a light and relatively dent-resistant body. The plastic does possess greater temperature movement properties and hence requires wider panel gaps, but you have to take the bad with the good. All that bodywork looks to be in fine shape and the SC2’s styling has also seemingly held up well over the course of the past 20 years.
There’s lots more good under this SC2’s sloping hood. There you’ll find a 124 horsepower 1.9 liter DOHC four and a five-speed manual gearbox feeding those ponies to the front wheels. The wheels are factory alloys, and while they all suffer from a bit of curb rash, none is so bad that you’d get turned away from that pizza delivery gig you so desperately need on their account.
The ad claims the car to be loaded — or at least as loaded as an SC2 could have been. On top of that it carries new tires, cold A/C, and a clean title. And let’s be frank here, in this crazy world, really what more than that do you really need to get from point A to point B other than that, a mask, and a gallon tub of hand sanitizer?
What you do need is an affordable price and we now need to decide if this tidy coupe comes through on that account as well. The seller has the car listed at $2,995 and thinks that’s such a good price that they actually repeat it in the ad’s headline. We, of course, will decide whether the encore was worth it.
What do you think, is this clean Saturn worth that $2,995 asking? Or, does that price miss it by a lightyear?
H/T to Mark Helmuth for the hookup!
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