Every so often, there's a story in the news that hits home. That was the case for me recently, when GM's deal to sell Saturn to a new owner fell through, apparently dooming the brand.
I own a Saturn.
Once upon a time, owning a Saturn was a little like being a member of a special little club, or as some less charitable observers put it, a cult. There was all the "different kind of car company" advertising; the round of applause when you drove your new car off the dealer's lot; the annual "homecoming" at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. There was, to my knowledge, no secret handshake, but that may just have been an oversight.
Today those of us who bought Saturns are in a different type of club, The same club as the folks who bought Oldsmobiles and before that, Desotos and Studebakers, not to mention Edsels (and please don't!). We own defunct cars.
Compared to what the people who build and sell Saturns are going through, my problems are admittedly miniscule. Other GM dealers will service Saturns, and GM will continue to honor Saturn warranties. Kiplinger's Personal Finance predicts that resale values will fall a little bit, but considering all the coffee and soda spills I've inflicted on my car over the years, I never really expected its eventual resale to fund my retirement.
This is more of a wound to my dignity because yes, I worry about What People Will Think. This is, after all, the car I'm seen in almost every day. It's not like the old leisure suits I keep safely hidden in the back of my closet.
Will people reflect on my lack of foresight for buying a car that would eventually go dodo? Is this like buying shares in White Star Lines just before the Titanic sank or cornering the market on sundials shortly before the invention of the clock? Will people on the street point at my car, laugh at me and ask incredulously, "Dude, you drive a Saturn?"
Or on the other hand, will my extinct car become a distinct car? Maybe my Saturn will be a collector's item, a nostalgic reminder of happier days when Detroit thought it could stop the rising tide of imports with "no haggle" deals and dent-resistant doors. Maybe I'll be able to take my Saturn to a car show, and proudly put it on display between a 1957 Chevy and an original Volkswagen beetle.
I can dream, can't I?
For now, I'm just going to put the key into the ignition and keep on driving as if I don't have a care in the world. Nothing lasts forever, after all, and eventually we're all defunct. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Sheet metal to scrap metal.