Tag: 1985

Saving Saturn: A different kind of car collector  – Eric Weiner @Hagerty

Saving Saturn: A different kind of car collector – Eric Weiner @Hagerty

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The most interesting car collection you’ve never heard of lives in a subdivision just outside Princeton, New Jersey. Nestled between patches of bucolic farmland and aging equestrian stables, in the cool shadow of a nature preserve, the neighborhood looks like any other. Drive past too quickly and you might miss the vast horde of Saturns, fanned out in the driveway of a single house like paint swatches in a catalogue. Before that rainbow array of plastic body panels stands its caretaker, a soft-spoken 26-year-old woman named Jessieleigh Freeman.

She fiddles with a scrunchie on her wrist and purses her lips as I wander, speechless, among the coupes, sedans, and wagons. “Seventeen of them,” she says, one hand idly playing with the Saturn pendant on her choker necklace. “I’ve got one in every body style—a few doubles, even.” The skateboard she carries displays the same two words you’ll find all over her Instagram: Saving Saturn.

How did Saturn get to the point that it needed her help? At the outset, the new brand lived up to its slogan, “a different kind of car company.” It was announced as the newest addition to GM’s household in 1985, the result of a bright-eyed dream that an all-American economy car with a unique approach could best Japan’s imports. Like the United States, Saturn was indeed a Grand Experiment. Most people remember the brand’s plastic body panels, meant to stave off rust, but Saturn’s true brilliance lay in the approach it took to people. Attempting to operate outside of the way Detroit had long done business, Saturn built its first plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Employees were recruited from various GM factories, and these people were eager to join an energetic culture offering the promise of a clean slate. Having signed up with Saturn, they then benefited from an unprecedented arrangement with the UAW chapter that allowed them to sidestep the complex web of union job classifications, participate in key decision making, and earn wages based in part on quality and productivity goals. GM even instituted a profit-sharing program in place of the traditional fixed-income pension. At retail locations, Saturn pioneered no-haggle pricing that immediately attracted thousands of hopeful customers.

This concept was so appealing that demand for new Saturns outstripped the Spring Hill plant’s production capability for the first five years. The brand’s early years were by and large successful, with massive customer satisfaction and an eclectic owner demographic that seemed all-in.

Not everyone at General Motors shared that enthusiasm. The rest of the company lived on the main deck of a corporate battleship—the kind of place where a proposed update to the bathroom tile might have to pass through multiple floors of executives—and it didn’t take long for resentment to boil over. Saturn was sucking up valuable resources, and as the brand’s initial momentum waned, the goodwill that had paved the brand’s road ran dry. The original S-Series ended production in 2002, by which point the larger L-Series line was being produced under traditional UAW labor rules in a Delaware plant. Soon after came the Vue SUV, the Ion sedan, the Relay minivan, and the Sky roadster—all of which were based on other GM models, and not unique to Saturn. An attempt to sell the brand to Penske fell through, and the dealership body closed for good in October 2010. That’s the end of it.

But not for Freeman. When she talks about her cars, she speaks slowly, surveying the breadth of her collection.

Read on

Even after a few decades of parade duty, 1985 Pontiac Sunbird has yet to be titled – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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Dealers are in the business of selling cars, not keeping them around. They gotta move the metal, and the longer a car sits on the books, the more it looks like it oughta just be discounted to the bone or farmed off to a rental fleet.

But every now and then, a car slips between the cracks for one reason or another and goes without a title well past its sell-by date. We’ve heard of Mopar wing cars going decades without a title, but this 1985 Pontiac Sunbird for sale on Hemmings.com may be the oldest J-body we’ve seen still in the original dealer’s possession.

Nor has it suffered from neglect the last 35 years – it still looks more or less unused. From the seller’s description:

While the Sunbird was a car aimed at the mainstream, the convertible version was not. It cost nearly double the price of the base Sunbird, and only 2,114 were made in 1985 (less than two percent of total production.) So this one was already rare when new, and that rarity has certainly grown with age. After all, when was the last time you saw one? But this particular example has done more than just survive; it has thrived. The original dealer held this car since new up until very recently. It was never titled, because he just kept it for occasional use and parades. In fact, it has been with the original dealer up until this summer, and so that means it lasted a decade longer that the actual Pontiac brand! It also means this was only given its first title a few months ago. So that makes for a terrific story, and also you may want to research if there are even any other Pontiacs out there with a first title this late in life. It’s this kind of history that has created a time capsule of a car. The Light Russet Metallic paint shows all signs of original, and it has a terrific shine. The deep luster loves to showcase the well-fitting panels and distinctly pointed urethane front end. Wire wheel covers and the trunk luggage rack love to show off the classic premium style. Plus, the condition of details, like the clean black rub strips, clear window glass, and complete badging just really give the full impression of a car that was treated to top-quality respect for decades.

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JUNKYARD TREASURE: 1985 PONTIAC FIERO 2M4 – Murilee Martin @Autoweek

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Like the Chevrolet Corvair that preceded it by a couple of decades, the Pontiac Fiero became a pretty decent sports car… just before The General killed it off. The 1984-1987 Fieros had Chevy Citation front suspensions in the back, Chevy Chevette front suspensions in the front, weighed 200 pounds more than the Toyota MR2… but looked pretty sharp for cars intended for low-cost penny-pinching commuter duty. You won’t see many Fieros today, but I see the occasional example in junkyards, especially in California. Here’s an ’85 in a Silicon Valley self-service yard.

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Ferrari Fighter: 1985 Pontiac Tojan – Scotty Gilbertson @Barnfinds.com

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This is the rarest car that I’ve never heard of. It’s a 1985 Pontiac Tojan and they were made to basically give Ferrari the ol’ one-two right in the kisser. They are incredibly rare with reports of around 150 of them being made between 1985 and 1991. They are not a kit car, they were a factory-produced monster, made from an F-body Firebird by Knudsen Manufacturing in Omaha

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1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo – Richard Lentinello @Hemmings

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1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

CLASSIC ELEGANCE TAILORED TO YOUR TASTE.
If ever a car was built to tempt you, this is it.

First, Monte Carlo catches you with style. Strong, instantly recognized style that sets it above lesser cars, from its elegant formal roof line to its crisply sculpted rear deck. Monte Carlo’s classic elegance has made it one of America’s most distinguished personal cars.

Read the rest of Richard’s article here