Flashback Friday: The Legend of the Saturn SL3


The mysterious Saturn SL3 is the loch ness monster of the Saturn world. Some have witnessed proof of its existence, but only a few have seen it and I'm not aware of any photos of the vehicle. I've been told that if you can imagine a first-generation SL2 sedan with a SC2 grafted on the front-end, you'd have a good picture in your head of the SL3. Significantly, it was powered by an 2.5L 30-valve inline six-cylinder powerplant (five valves per cylinder!) that reportedly produced around 250 hp. The engine was reportedly based on Saturn's 1.9L 4-cylinder engine.

Saturn vice president, Don Hudler, told the Chicago Tribune back in 1992 that, "We're looking at an SL3 for '94. It would have a higher trim level than the SL2 sedan, plus a few exterior styling differences. It would have leather seats and a couple of different radio choices and a sunroof." He added that "a manual transmission doesn't make sense in such an uplevel car, but that's not to say we couldn't offer one." In addition, the SL3 was said to have anti-lock brakes, traction control, and power doors, windows, and locks included as standard equipment. It also would've had the SC2's retractable headlamps.

Ten prototypes were reportedly produced. However at the time Hudler told the newspaper, "we still haven't decided on offering it yet. Some of our retailers are starting to yell that we're offering too many models already."

What made the SL3 a little different than your run-of-the-mill car rumor was that Saturn apparently came very close to building it. So close that they even included references to it in their 1993 S-Series owners manual. While we don't have photos of the elusive vehicle, you can peruse the pages of the owner's manual to see several SL3 references.

For more SL3 references and scans from the 1993 S-Series owners manual, head on over to the SaturnFans.com Photo Gallery.

Sources: David93SL2m, eRic 02sc2, psychoelf, Chicago Tribune

Random Article from the SaturnFans.com Archives

Breaking News: Saturn Continues to Explore Options, Faces Shutdown in 2011 if No Viable Alternative Found

GM Logo

General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner announced during a news conference this evening that Saturn will remain in operation through the end of the planned lifecycle for all Saturn products (2010-11). In the interim, should Saturn retailers as a group or other investors present a plan that would allow a spin off or sale of Saturn Distribution Corporation, GM would be open to any such possibility. If a spin off or sale does not occur, it is GM's intention to phase out the Saturn brand at the end of the current product lifecycle.