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Old 01-03-2011, 02:49 AM   #46
Arnel
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Pittsburgh, PA - Home of the World Champion Steelers & Penguins!
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2001 SC2
Default Re: Goodbye Saturn: Thanks for the Ride (1985-2010)

Charlie,

I don't know where to start; actually like most things in life, (quoting some 80's song lyrics) "you don't know you've got 'til it's gone." This shouldn't feel like a eulogy because Saturnalia/SaturnFans.com is a celebration of a collection of folks that bought cars that weren't merely modes of transportation.

SaturnFans.com is a cyber-community that existed long before Second Life, Myspace, or even Facebook. I fondly remember joining Saturnalia just prior to the 1999 Homecoming. I was a newbie. My 1995 Pontiac Sunfire had just been totalled in an accident over the '97 Christmas holiday & I took the insurance check from the loss and bought a used 1994 SL2 from a Pontiac dealership. Barb, my girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife of 10 years) had a 1993 SL1 that she had bought while in college. I figured what better way to earn brownie points with her than to buy a similar car that I found quite practical. (I figured it would last me a few years/miles...not the 10+ I owned it.)

That summer, my girlfriend and I were living in Ocean City, MD and we had read on Saturnalia/Saturnfans about Homecoming. Barb had always regretted not making the trip to the first Homecoming in 1994 and swore that she would make the next one if she had the opportunity. It was a HOT summer day when we departed Ocean City for Manassas, VA where we would meet up with the Boston/NYC arm of a Saturn caravan. We drove two cars. I can remember being assigned our Homecoming placards and meeting up with other owners who were just as fond of their cars as we were. I can remember Barb misunderstanding the directions of one of our caravan leaders, Lisa Silbaugh, a Saturn Corp. employee. My wife had mistakenly followed a Saturn that was visiting Saturn of Manassas when it exited the lot. When she followed, I followed, and so did the dozens of Saturns that had assembled and lined up in SoM's lot. LOL. I can remember talking to Barb on our FRS radio sensing that something had gone awry but it was too late, all the cars had left SoM's lost and was now following us. I can remember seeing Ms. Silbaugh in a blue LS2 zooming in front to take the lead. I remember all of us pulled alongside a shoulder to regroup just before we were to hit the Interstate for the first time as a caravan of magnitude. (A local newspaper, in the meantime, had shown up at the retailer for a photo-op that never happened.)

Our next stop was Saturn of Roanoke Valley. I will remember that stop because if I recall correctly, it had started to rain and all of us were crammed in the retailer sharing ownership stories and bonding. It was that day that Saturn won me over for life. It was that day that Ms. Silbaugh & the management group of SoRV presented me with a 100,000 mile Saturn license plate frame - on the drive from Ocean City, my SL2 had cleared the 100k milestone!

I can remember the drive from SoRV in the pouring rain. Myself, Barb, HumpMan and others were easily doing 70-80 mph in pouring rain while talking to each other over FRS radios - so much for handsfree! The following morning, Barb & I, along with a grandmother and grand-daughter were interviewed by a local TV station for their morning news program. And if that wasn't exciting enough, later that day we would be driving our Saturns for TEN LAPS on Bristol (TN) International Speedway.

By the time we had made it to Spring Hill we had already made several new friends. I can remember the New Jersey Saturn Retailer that had converted an airport shuttle for the caravan and the sign of our route along the side of their "jitney". I can remember the prototype yellow SC2 that Saturn of Bowie transported to Homecoming. I can remember the purple SL1 that had a sign that read something like "I went to Saturn Homecoming and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". I can remember Allyn DeVers from a Saturn retailer in New Hampshire. He was a friend that we made that was always there when we needed him. I remember Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Hootie and the Blowfish performing on the main stage. I remember how HOT it was and how we were drinking water as if we'd been stranded in a desert for days. I can remember how delicious the catfish sandwiches were that they had served us for lunch. Most of all, I can remember our first tour of the Spring Hill manufacturing plant.

In the years to follow, my SL2 would accumulate 170,000 miles with me behind the wheel (it had 40k on the odometer when I bought it). Just over 5 years ago, Charlie had put together sort of a SaturnFans.com Homecoming. While the attendance was nothing like what we had seen at Spring Hill in '99, this event allowed us to meet other loyal Saturn owners that we had grown to "know" over the years on SaturnFans...Spazie, OhioVueBoy, ClapDaddy, just to name a few. We bonded over go-kart races at a track near Opryland Hotel. We walked into the Saturn Welcome Center one more time. We toured the manufacturing facility one more time. And most of us even had our photos taken with our beloved Saturns at the front entrance.

In between, I eventually worked at Saturn of Salisbury (MD). I always did my best to share my Saturn experience with my co-workers and my guests. It didn't make me the most successful salesperson at SoS, but it did offer me the chance to share our love of all things Saturn. Thank you, GM Wayne Weir, Ops Mgr Chris VanDePoole, and FM Terry Desautels for giving me a chance.

In the fall of 2008, Barb & I donated our '93 SL1 and '94 SL2 to charity. Just last summer, we traded our 2007 Saturn VUE Greenline for a 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid. On the last day of 2010, we spent over $1400 on a brand new exhaust system & tie-rods on our 2001 Yellow SC2 Special Edition....just so that we could share what we have left of Saturn with our two young boys, ages 2 & 4.

People that never owned a Saturn will never understand the love we have shared. People these days can't understand why a car owner would want to visit where their car was made. When Saturn used Alphaville's Forever Young as the music bed for their ads touting the ION 4 door coupe, we didn't know that Saturn's days were numbered.

Charlie, for as much we love Skip for creating the little (polymer) car that could, we love you for giving us all a world in which we could share our love (& hate, lol) of Saturns. YOU gave us a place to share stories, sentiments, and memories.

We thank you, Charlie. I wouldn't have cried reading your farewell story, or be fighting back tears now, if all of your hard work hadn't touched my life...and the lives of others.

To alter a line of dialogue from sci-fi lore, "(We) have been and always shall be your friend(s)."
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...
93m SL1 "SLone" 145,000 mi. - RIP 10/08
94m SL2 "Ringo" 209,425 - ret. 7/31/07, RIP 10/08
01m SC2 "Lello" 129,000
07a GL VUE "Orbit" 48,900 - RIP 6/19/10
10a Ford Escape Hybrid - 8600 mi.

Last edited by Arnel; 01-03-2011 at 03:04 AM..

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