January 7, 1985 – Saturn is founded

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, on this day in 1985, GM officially founded Saturn Corporation.

A concept car soon followed. At the time, GM planned to release the vehicle under one of its other brands, likely Chevrolet, Oldsmobile or Pontiac. That idea didn’t last, but the cars did a new marque formed. Following retooling of the Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly plant, the new car went into production. From there, the Saturn SC and Saturn SL started rolling off the line in 1990 for the 1991 model year. The heads at GM hoped that Saturn would be their magic bullet against rising import sales.

A 2009 Saturn Sky, the last year Saturn was made. By Reedred – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Saturn marketing focused on branding it as “A different kind of car company.” The new branch 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. The last Saturn rolled out of the factory on October 7, 2009.

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