A history of Saturn

When Penske Automotive Group backed out of a deal to purchase the Saturn brand from General Motors in late September 2009, it marked the end of the Saturn company that was formed in 1985. The Saturn idea was conceived by GM Chairman Roger Smith and GM President F. James McDonald. It was to be a "New Kind of Company" to compete with the Japanese brands.

Soon after the formation of the company, Spring Hill, Tenn., was picked for the location of the plant. The first Saturn model, a S-Series sedan, came off the assembly line in July 1990. The Saturn business plan was successful for a handful of years, but then the lack of new product and commitment by GM spelled trouble going into the 21st Century. An infusion of new products over the past few years was too little, too late.

In 1985, Gov. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, flanked by other government officials,
announced the opening of a Saturn plant in Spring Hill, just outside Nashville.   

Site of the Spring Hill Saturn plant  

        The day after the announcement, property
values in Spring Hill climbed from $2,000 an
acre to as much as $50,000 an acre.

           The first Saturn rolled off the assembly              
line in July 1990. From left, GM President

Bob Stempel, UAW President Don Ephlin,
GM Chairman Roger Smith and Saturn

          President Skip LeFauve.           

Aerial view of the Saturn facilities in Spring Hill

A 1991 S-Series sedan and a 1992 SC coupe

A 1996 S-Series wagon and sedan

A 1999 SC Series coupe with unique rear-hinged back door

2000 Saturn CV1 concept

2000 L-Series Wagon and dashboard layout

2001 S-Series wagon and 2001 SC-Series dashboard

2002 Saturn Vue crossover sport utility

2003 Saturn Ion, the replacement for the S-Series, and the Ion dashboard

2004 L-Series sedan

2005 Relay minivan

2006 Vue crossover

The 2008 Saturn Aura, named North American Car of the Year, and the 2008 Astra, replacement for the Ion

The restyled 2009 Saturn Vue

The Saturn Sky roadster

Onlookers get first-hand look at the Saturn Vue Hybrid

The Saturn Flextreme concept car