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1995 Saturn S-Series Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Great Value and Performance by SaturnNight



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I purchased my Saturn out of an impound auction, as the previous owner forfeited the vehicle. The 1st Gen Sport Coupe models have always been a favorite of mine, with a sleek style and pop-up headlamps on the SC2. I love the pop-up headlamps, because they are a style that is never frequent on a lower cost vehicle. Saturn S-Series were built with the same technology as the Pontiac Fiero, and living in Ohio, rust is ALWAYS an issue with steel body panels. The Saturn technology is virtually immune to corrosion, which means you can own the car indefinitely and the body will always remain in decent shape. These features, that make the S-Series so unique in comparison to the other models of its class, really makes the car stand out from the crowd.

Reviewed: 1995 Saturn S-Series

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1995 Saturn S-Series Love Letter

There are only 3 section of the visible body, that are made from steel: the hood, the roof, and the trunk lid. With that being said, GM used very high quality steel for these components, and even ater 15-20 years of being in the "rust belt", the Saturn steel generally still retains paint and clear coat with minimal surface or lip rust. The rest of the body panels are carbon-fiber reinforced plastic and very resistant to dents. The plastic panels can easily be unbolted from the chasis for easy repair and replacement. So, even if the body becomes damaged or cracked, the repairs are usually much cheaper than steel body panels because there are no welds to grind down or drill through, no dents to have pulled from a used part, or rust to be sandblasted before the part is painted and reinstalled. This reduces the labor time of the repair, which is usually the most expensive part of the repair process. The plastic panels serve a secondary purpose, that can save the owner a fortune over time: Fuel Economy. The lighter weight, less-dense design of these panels greatly reduce total curb weight and improves your fuel economy. The longer you own the car amd the more miles you drive it, the more you save in fuel costs when you compare it to a similar model compact car.


In conclusion, these vehicles were a dream come true for anyone that wanted a reliable, inexpensive sporty ride that would withstand the test of time. The DOHC 1.9L engine was rugged and dependable, with many Saturn owners reporting their S-Series going well past the 200,000 mile range, and some even getting over 300,000. A few owners have reached over 500,000 on the factory engines, with proper maintenance and service. A Saturn owner never has to worry about rising fuel costs, because these cars had excellent tuning for great fuel economy, as well. In terms of performance, well the Saturn SC2 is very capable of running a high 15-second quarter mile, at the drag strip. Most vehicles, during the time of its production would need less efficient V-6, or even a gas-sucking V-8 to churn out that performance level. The other compact vehicles were typically running mid 17s or high 16s. Another great aspect of these cars were their optional packages from the factory and the ability to custom order them with the options of your choosing. If you wanted a stripped down model, that had manual windows/mirrors/locks and no air conditioning, BUT wanted the higher performance DOHC engine, you could order the car to be built with those options. Maybe you wanted the luxury of power everything, a leather steering wheel, BUT you wanted the thrill of a sporty 5-speed manual transmission. Well, Saturn said, "No problemo....."

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Response from Impressed

12:44 pm October 31, 2016

This is a great review of a great American small car. My 1996 SC2 was fun, economical, and reliable. 20 years is a great run for any brand and the only thing this excellent review doesn't mention is that you still need to be concerned about the undercarriage corroding here in the Rust Belt. But that's a challenge for every car.

These cars' light weight, torque-y DOHC engines, and manual trans gear ratios made driving them fun and cheap. I wish more car makers would experiment with plastic body panels. Some pedantic idiots would complain about panel gap on them, but if you want better handling and great fuel economy and corrosion resistance, they are tremendous.


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Response from SaturnNight

9:46 pm October 31, 2016

Yes, I agree that the rust belt is always an issue with corrosion. Particularly the driver's side lower control arm area of the cradle, the rear floor pan-to-rear clip weld/pasted area on SC models, and the rear trialing arms. These areas can be made very rust resistant by applying POR-15 enamel. SL models tend to corrode very quickly in the rear rocker area of the rear wheel well, instead of the floor pans.


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Response from Impressed

4:39 pm November 30, 2016

Good point, SaturnNight, it was the rear trailing arms that were so corroded I had to give my SC2 up. And POR-15 did help stop some of the rust in other areas over the years, or at least slow it down.


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Response from NormT

7:35 pm August 24, 2017

A ciupkenguys at work are still driving Saturn's. They must be buying them from the south and bringing them back and are reselling them amongst themselves as they are always driving them.


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