It would be easy to tell the story of Saturn as a corporate historiography. Yet, there is more about Saturn than just the foundation, the design and production of the company and its products. It is the cultural impact on how a company – albeit a part of General Motors – sought to connect its products, the way they sold them and the extraordinary consumer engagement that spurred on such immense brand loyalty amongst owners.
A young man loved his cars fast, furious…or astute. The Lamborghini Countach would soon replace Farah Fawcett on some bedroom walls, but even Journey or Rush couldn't yield to a difficult-to-drive Italian supercar. As we began to attain our licenses, we pondered the possibilities of where it would take us. Rather, in what vehicle would we get there?
If divine foreign intervention did not come in time for an American automaker, the company in question would have probably ceased to exist by 1982.
It is an audacious statement to make where history was thwarted to save a company from extinction. We’ve seen this many times over the past 30 years where Detroit-based automakers sought alliances and acquisitions with other automakers around the globe. To recall each one would be a massive effort to digest and analyze. Yet, most of the readers of this site have probably forgotten the scenario that put American Motors on the brink before Renault came in to assist them through most of the 1980s.
However, one particular story captured the most headlines in the automotive world during the course of 1981-82 school year. When people talked about automobiles, many conversations came up – either positive or dismissive. Yet, you could not ignore it – the commercials were all over and the vehicles were selling. He appeared in a good chunk of his company's spots – with a manifesto on his lips: "If you could find a better car, buy it!"
The story of the British automotive industry was one of imperial arrogance and a sense of superiority that would eventually lead to its lowest point several years ago. Many analysts are actually predicting an even lower position when the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union will result in potential tariffs, job losses, factory closings, and a deeper economic crisis. A pox on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, possibly.
Our generation considers a wider definition of luxury, despite the obvious price connotation of it. Rolls-Royce and Bentley may just be touchstones in terms of luxury, but even their pricing might be not enough compared to the likes of Bugatti, Pagani and a few new Ferraris and Lamborghinis. While a few hundred thousand dollars opens the door to a Rolls-Royce Wraith or Bentley Mulsanne, luxury is also measured by rarity of product and extreme levels of performance.