Saturn started as a codename for a new small car from General Motors in the mid 1980s, but ended up becoming a car brand all its own. In June of 1982 discussions of a new compact were heating up at GM and the idea was first publicized by Chairman Roger B. Smith in November of the following year. Just more than a year later, and on this day in 1985, Saturn Corporation was officially founded.
A concept car soon followed, but at the time GM was still planning on releasing the vehicle under one of its other brands, likely Chevrolet, Oldsmobile or Pontiac. That idea didn’t last, but the cars did and the Saturn SC and Saturn SL went into production in 1990 for the 1991 model year at the Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly plant. The heads at GM were hoping that Saturn would be their magic bullet against rising import sales.
Saturn was marketed as “a different kind of car company,” and featured unique models and operated a separate retailer network from other GM brands. While the cars sold at a relative success rate, the brand didn’t match the expectations that GM had set. After failing to sell the brand in the late 2000s, GM closed the doors on Saturn, with the last one rolling out of the factory on October 7, 2009.