Some Saturn Owners, Retailers Have a Special Relationship with Vanishing Brand

2005 Vue Red Line at Saturn/West in Columbus, Ohio

Dan Gearino from the Columbus Dispatch via the Boston Herald: The toughest part for Saturn fans was the suddenness. For months, Penske Automotive Group worked on plans to buy the Saturn brand from General Motors. And then, in an instant last week, the deal evaporated. Saturn is now slated to wind down over the next year. "We were caught off guard as much as everyone," said Steve Whitman of Clintonville, vice president of the Central Ohio Saturn Car Club. Penske walked away from the deal after being unable to find a manufacturer to make Saturns after a contract with GM runs out in 2011. There's been no word on another buyer emerging. "Our initial shock was, 'Gee, what happens now?' " Whitman said. The question is doubly important for Al Clapsaddle. He was one of the club's founders, and then in 2001 he retired from his job at Lucent Technologies and became a salesman at Saturn of Columbus West in Hilliard. "Many things go through my mind," he said. "First off was anger. I was really mad and I didn't know who to be mad at. I wanted to look somebody in the eye and say, 'What the heck?'"

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Flashback Friday: First Saturn Sold Today in 1990

On this date in 1990, Saturn sold its first car. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the first Saturn - the blue SL2 sedan shown above - was sold just after midnight to Elaine Terry at Saturn of Clearwater. "I wanted an American-made car and decided to give it a try," Mrs. Terry told the newspaper. It was a 25th wedding anniversary present. USA Today and CNN were reportedly at the retail facility to document the event. "I kept it for 10 months and put over 5,000 miles on it. People all over the country wanted to buy the car from me. One man in Las Vegas was talking up to $100,000 for it."