Are you adopted? If so, have you ever attempted to reconnect with your birth family? That’s the MO of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Saturn Astra, as it rocks Vauxhall badging and stripes. Could that mean it’s worth its adopted price?
Well, it certainly doesn’t look like we’re going into business for ourselves anytime soon. No, the massive 88 percent Crack Pipe loss that tarred yesterday’s 1993 Geo Metro Lightning Ice Cream entrepreneurial opportunity put an end to that dream. We might not be paying the $6,000 asking, but we’re still stuck shackled to the yoke of the nine to five rat race. Oh well, the dream was exquisite while it lasted.
I’ll bet you’re asking yourself just what is the bridge between that Geo drop top and today’s 2008 Saturn Astra XR. Well, I’m here to tell you. Both of these cars came to America under the guise of a constituted brand from a GM subsidiary or invested partner overseas. In their home markets each was sold under a different marque. In the case of the Geo Metro it was Suzuki, while for Saturn’s Astra it was Opel.
Okay, what’s up then with this Astra and all the lion-eagle-flag logos stuck all over it? That lion-eagle-flag thing is of course a griffin, famous in myth and interpretive dance, and the V on the flag it is holding indicates this particular gryphon to be the apostle of the British marque, Vauxhall.
Why a griffin? Well, step back with me if you will, to the thirteenth century—history’s most unlucky epoch. It was then that Faulke de Breaute, a mercenary soldier, was given the Manor of Luton by Britain’s King John. He built a home there and as was the custom of the time gave it a name, since addresses hadn’t been invented yet. Nor had the brodie knob. Like I said, these were dark times.
The name bestowed upon the house was Fulk’s Hall which, owing to the ever shifting sands of the English tongue eventually morphed into Vauxhall. That name was adopted in 1863 by Andrew Betts Brown, a Scottish engineer and industrialist for a London-based pump company. Vauxhall Iron Works initially focused on the building of engines for ships, but in 1902 the company expanded into the market for the newfangled “horseless carriages,” offering a 5-horse, one-lung automobile for sale.
Fast forward to 1927 when the American company General Motors was looking for expansion opportunities in Europe. At the same time that GM was buying controlling shares in Vauxhall in Great Britain, it was entering into a similar agreement with Germany’s Adam Opel AG.
Ipso fatso, abracadabra and la-dee-dah and we eventually got Opels built in England with Vauxhall branding. For a short time, we also received them here in America as Saturns.
This Saturn has been rebadged as its British cousin. There are Vauxhall Griffins on the nose and hatch and a jaunty side stripe for good measure. Inside, a little less effort has been applied as the Saturn steering wheel center carries a skull and crossbones instead of a mythical chimeric flag bearer.
Now, I’ve toyed with this idea for some time, although my thoughts tilted toward the original Opel guise, but this is pretty cool too. And yes, for those of you in England I know that it can’t be a real Vauxhall with the steering wheel way over there on the left. Just work with me, okay? Go have a pint and relax. Worry about Brexit.
Could the witness protection program re-naming alone make this car worth its asking? Oh hell no. Fortunately, there is more. The seller notes the car to be in “perfect mechanical condition,” with an impressive list of maintenance having been completed in just the last 3,000 miles. I do take issue with the costs he associates with some of these items—$30 for an air filter? $40 for four spark plugs? Dude, stop shopping at Neiman Marcus!
The car’s exterior looks to be in fine fettle and this is one of the nicest looking Astras to have come out of Opel. It is lowered, rocking coilovers at each corner. Another aftermarket addition is some heavy tint on the windows. That might help keep the interior in the pristine condition it apparently maintains today. That condition is pretty impressive seeing as the car has flipped its six barrel on the odo. There’s 111,000 miles in total on the car, but the seller claims it’s ready to double that with ease.
Mechanically, the 138 horsepower 1.8 litre is said to be strong and does rock a new timing belt. The clutch and five speed stick are likewise claimed active duty ready.
What might a car like this command? Well, if you read the classifieds the way I do, you’d probably guess about three grand. This one is unique in that someone actually took care of a Saturn instead of just driving it into the ground and then pissing on its grave once it was dead. People do that you know. Nobody respects Saturns it seems. Maybe that’s why this one is badged as a Vauxhall, and perhaps—just perhaps—that might make it worth its $8,000 asking to someone.
Would that someone be you? If so, then you know how to vote. If it’s not you, then… well, you also know what to do. What’s your take on this Vauhallian Astra and that $8,000 price? Is that a deal to go back to this car’s roots? Or, is that just not a badge of honor?
HT to FauxShizzle for the hookup!
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