Over the weekend dozens of Saturn fans showed up to the streets outside of General Motors’ Detroit headquarters, the Renaissance Center, to demand the company bring back plastic cars and no-haggle dealerships. Saturn died in October of 2010 after just 25 years of production. While General Motors didn’t officially respond to the protest, and likely won’t be bringing Saturn back any time soon, the group of wacky fans announced they were taking their rally on to several other (not at all Saturn-related) cities.
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If you don’t live in Detroit, you might not know the name of former Jalopnik intern Andy Didorosi, and you might not have heard of the Detroit Bus Company. Thankfully the folks “organizing” the 24-Hours-of-Lemons offshoot Lemons Rally had heard of him, and called him up to get a real taste of what it’s like to visit Detroit. The Lemons Rally participants were treated to a bus tour of awesome sites and cool activities, such as a long-drive competition (hitting random nuts and bolts with thrift shop golf clubs) on the grounds of the long-defunct AMC headquarters, or visiting the 52-year-0ld concrete velodrome where Didorosi and co. once hosted small-bore motorcycle racing.
The final stop on the tour, as you can guess, was a visit to the RenCen. The Lemons Rally folks and the Detroit Bus Company folks threw this wild idea together the night before, and told everyone involved to whip together some signs in support of Saturn. While everyone was writing out “We need cheap shitboxes again. I want to be able to afford a car, damn it!! We need Saturn!” in magic marker on plain white poster board, Didorosi was calling the local news stations.
Andy told anyone who would take his call that two bus-loads of people, including some from as far away as Florida, were showing up to GM’s doorstep to shout about a brand that has been dead for eleven years. Not a word of that was a lie, but the local stations seemingly didn’t realize the whole thing was kind of a joke—not that that the LeMons Rally people would necessarily be opposed to a Saturn revival.
According to Lemons staffer Eric Rood, one of the participants even told the news crews in attendance that the whole thing was a stunt for “Lemons Rally” and they replied with something like “Yeah, I know this is a protest rally.” Of course, that just made the jape all the more delicious.
There’s perhaps nothing more Detroit than forming a picket line to fight for something you believe in. Of course it’s usually fair wages or better treatment of factory workers, you know, stuff that matters. This was nothing more than a ruse that made the evening news, everyone there knew that their words would carry no weight. In any case, it would seem that Didorosi gave the Lemons Rally participants a taste of the Detroit experience they were looking for.
There was even a Saturn entrant on the rally’s aptly-named Rust Belt Ramble. This mid-2000s Ion was stripped of its plastic panels and given a slew of trailer lights and a NASA logo in an effort to mimic some kind of lunar rover. It’s just weird enough to be perfectly at home on the Lemons Rally. And of course, we have been familiar with Lemons Rally since the beginning.
I will admit that my wife and I once shared a 1999 Saturn SL2, and it remains one of the best cars we have ever owned. Damn, now I’m wishing I had been there demanding action for the people on the streets with this group of Saturn-loving trouble makers.