By on February 12, 2015

02 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSaturn needed some new models by the late 1990s, and so GM spent a billion or so bucks to make an Americanized, plastic-bodied Opel Vectra and called it the L-Series. The L, which went through a bewildering series of model-name changes during its 2000-2005 production run, never sold very well and more or less sank without a trace. That makes it historically interesting, in sort of a run-up-to-the-bankruptcy way, much like the 2001 Pontiac Aztek Junkyard Find we saw yesterday. Yes, we’re having 21st Century Junkyard Find Week!
12 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe General had ample experience with attempts to sell rebadged Opels in the United States, from the Buick Opel to the Cadillac Catera, and only the Opel-cousin Chevrolet Chevette had sold worth a damn. Still, the Saturn L would be different!
04 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA billion dollars, gone.
13 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomebody dropped the subframe and grabbed the Ecotec 2.2 out of this car.
11 - 2001 Saturn L-200 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWindow won’t roll up? That’s what a Salvation Army sign and packaging tape are for!


You can jump up and down on the door skins, plus there’s that German engineering to consider.

The midsize world may never be the same.

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112 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2001 Saturn L200...”


  • avatar
    scott25

    These are still incredibly abundant on the road, and seem to be the ricers of rural southern Ontario’s new favourite car. I’ve seen a surprising number of them with uber-loud exhausts and where I live there’s one with an actually well-done custom paint job of silver with purple and green flames along with various other custom pieces and the aforementioned exhaust. It makes me smile every time I see it.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Was the “billion dollar” development cost for the whole GM2900 platform, or just the L-series?

    If you spread that cost over all the Vectras and Saabs sold in Europe (which must be at least a million units), it doesn’t sound so bad.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Mediocre product but I always thought the wagon versions looked pretty good.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I always liked the wagon versions too. The later ones got larger headlamps and some upscale exterior trim. They looked much more expensive than the sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        As far as GM cars of the era, I don’t think these were that bad. I think the problem was that it was still short of what the Japanese offered for similar money. It’s kind of like the Dodge Dart today, not bad but verything else is way better.

  • avatar
    Garak

    So.. they took the most mediocre car they could find, and slapped some plastic body panels on it. Why?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I suspect GM (the parent company) wanted Saturn to fail: it really was a rebuke to GM as a whole did business.

      The interesting thing is that GM is also really passive-aggressive, and has had pretty weak leadership. So while no one could outright knife Saturn (and Roger Smith couldn’t make the rest of GM work like Saturn did), they could make sure that it was solidly hamstrung.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’m not sure if it was contempt that killed Saturn, but simple indifference. They did put the effort into making different cars than the rest of GM, but eventually they just gave into to the rebadging that plagued every other division.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I liked these in concept (and, living in a big city at the time, loved the plastic panels!) but man, did the execution ever suck.

    The L drove poorly, wasn’t efficient or reliable, had bad seats and the typically-terrible GM interiors of the period. The worst was that steering wheel: someone at GM in the 1990s and early-2000s must have had fond memories of Playskool, because a lot of products had that round, cartoonish melted-in-the-sun design wrought in hard-yet-quick-wearing plastic.

    Awful. The only reason these sold at all was Saturn’s Lexus-like customer-satisfaction scores, which, oddly, was the one thing GM didn’t transplant to it’s other divisions.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I had one for 3-4 days as a rental. Your description fits my memory of the car quite well.

      I was amused to see that there was almost no brand identification on the car, and no model labelling that I could find. It seemed like Saturn didn’t want you to know that this was one of theirs, that they were in fact ashamed of it. Which they certainly should have been.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “Yes, we’re having 21st Century Junkyard Find Week!”

    Yes we are, we could continue with more and make a movie about it and call it, “Craptasia – The New Millennium”

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It will just be all Pontiacs and Saturns though :(

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Daewoos, KIAs, Hyundais on that list too.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Oh certainly. I had a Daewoo Lanos sedan in Korea when I was there – utter crap. MY 1997 with no airbags and a 3-speed (GM) automatic. A little tiny car that got about 20mpg combined.

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        ..and PT Cruisers, and Ford Freestyles, and Lincoln LS, and Toyota Siennas, and Jaguars, and Land Rovers, and Subaru 2.5 everything, and….

        Better make it a month Murilee. Please.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Now steady on! What’s wrong with the Freestyle? The LS/S-Type I’ll give you, as well as any LR. But the Sienna was a nice vehicle at that time, very solid.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “What’s wrong with the Freestyle?”

            Expensive CVT failures.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Same CVT’s I’m guessing as the Montego/500 of that era. Which means they were okay after the refresh, from 06-08?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Five Hundred AWD used the same doomed CVT. Oh and Jag X-type was a fail along with early P2 Volvos due to transmission issues.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I still see X-Types around, even a wagon occasionally. There’s a lawyer working here with a white over black X-Type VDP who could certainly afford something better if she wished.

          • 0 avatar
            Crabspirits

            The lifespan of a freestyle and five-hundred cvt is roughly 60k miles. People love them enough to change them the 1st time. The Sienna is Toyota’s Catera. Everything breaks on it, from exploding windows to transmissions.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I have never heard that before about the Sienna. You still see them around even today, my aunt had hers without major fault all the way to 275K miles, when she finally decided it was time to set it free.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It seems as if the majority of minivans are “under-transmissioned,” from Odysseys to Grand Caravans to Siennas & so forth.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Any minivan from the early 2000s could qualify. There’s never a shortage of Ventures, Montanas, Windbags, Odyseeys or Caravans in the u-pull yards I frequent.

          • 0 avatar
            Crabspirits

            I felt that was a given. Ah, the old standard of the Venture minivan with it’s one wiper arm sticking up like a middle finger, amidst fields of Caravan.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Windstar: a minivan so bad that even though Ford still makes at least 3 minivans, they dare not utter the term “minivan”.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            My uncle had a first generation Windstar purchased new. He kept it for a decade but I swear every moving part was replaced at least once.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            And let’s not forget the N* Cadillacs either.

            For that matter, anything that ends in ‘star’ tends to be high on this list:

            Aerostar (least-bad; survivor cars have been shipped south of the border)

            Windstar

            Freestar

            Northstar

            Shortstar (V-6 Northstar)

            Any others I am missing?

          • 0 avatar
            greaseyknight

            @redmondjp, Pentastar v6 from Chrysler, but its looked on pretty favorably.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          There have to be a few Dodge Caliber’s in the latest Junkyard Finds.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    A completely anonymous car. Saturn is quickly becoming nothing more than a legend. Before you know it, no one will believe they even existed.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    That first picture looks like a depressing version of my late-90s to early-00s Southeast Michigan high school parking lot. Grand Am. Check. Grand Prix. Check. Saturn. Check. Cavalier. Check. I’m sure there must be some Taurii, cloud cars, K-cars, Cherokees, Jimmys, Explorers, and Escorts in that junk yard too.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Among the standouts at my HS parking lot were: my 5000 (then replaced by a 90S), a light bar Sable, a black over tan gen1 929, Merkur Scorpio, and a Reatta. One kid had a blue-purple Del Sol later on which I found cool as well.

      Other than that, lots of Pontiacs and Escorts/Tracers, and Cavaliers (and one final model Cavalier convertible, blue with white interior).

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        We had Cavaliers and Sunfires for days. And the Geos, why so many Geos?!?!

        When I was 15, I would get a ride to school in the back of a GEO Storm.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I’m rather older – my high school was a sea of hand-me-down Volvos, Audis, Saabs, and one real oddball – a Maxima diesel! Plus sundry Escorts and such. I drove my Grandparents new ’85 Olds 98 for the first half of senior year, then the ’82 Subaru for the rest. The Subaru was infinitely better, no Brougham love here.

        The best thing about the Saturn L-series was that you can get parts for them that fit Saab 9-5s cheaper than from Saab. The Saturn bits to do the timing belt on my 9-5 were 1/2 the price in Saturn boxes.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        Where I went, the HS parking lot was almost all pickup trucks and Tauruses. The interesting ones I remember:

        1992-1996 F150 Flareside
        1991-1996 Caprice Sedan (Worn Out)
        DSM Car with a Sheet Metal Quarter Windows (I think it was a Talon?)
        1980s Chevrolet Celebrity (A teacher owned it)
        Early 70s Ford F100 Bumpside
        2000s Corolla with no front bumper
        1998-2001 Audi A6 Avant (This one was in nice shape).

        That A6 stood out like a sore thumb.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure what Saturn’s thing was with two-spoke steering wheels. Even the Vue had one…until it went mostly mainstream in 2006 and got the corporate GM three-spoke that was in everything from the Cobalt to the Corvette…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    And… its gone!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I actually liked the L300 wagon, especially in loaded form. However I have heard that they were steaming piles of crap with failure prone engines.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The 54 degree was GM’s 2.7 in terms of evil.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_54%C2%B0_V6_engine#L81

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Why would they not just put the 60 degree V6 in these? GM had 3100s and 3400s EVERYWHERE.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I imagine because it was an Opel platform, maybe they really wanted the sell the “German engineering”.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            They sold this thing on German engineering? Nevermind that it was assembled in Delaware with an English engine. Silly GM.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            They used that Ellesmere Port POS in the Euro market Omegas as well, despite Opel being a German company with its own motors. Silly wabbit indeed.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The 3100/3400 had their share of issues, but there are still plenty of cars on the road with those engines in them. My sister’s Alero will die of something else before the 3400 eats it (she did have the LIM gaskets replaced).

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            I worked at a Saturn dealer right when these Cleveland steamers plopped onto the lot, so I’m far more familiar with them than any one person should be.
            I can’t say WHY they stuffed that V6 in there, but part of the sales pitch was to state that this was a detuned version of the same engine in the Craptera and Saab of the same era (so maybe not German specifically, but eurotrash ftw). I believe the others got around 200 HP while this thing made do with 180ish.
            The fun part is that because it was an Opel Vectra and wasn’t designed to be a fantastic plastic machine, the “spaceframe” that existed on the S-series Saturns wasn’t present. As such, the doorskins and front fenders were plastic, but the rear quarters were steel. If you see one you can usually tell since the paint will fade into slightly different versions of the original color or it might rust.
            Having made fun of them, I will admit I still have a soft spot for the wagon; despite the crappy V6, it did move pretty well and the cargo space was commodious with the seats down.
            I just need to find the right combo of L300 and bad body control module on Craigslist and I have a new winter beater…
            EDIT: Sweet: dayton.craigslist.org cto 4841558102.html

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the detailed info. Why a bad body control module?

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Because somebody other than Saab and Opel needed to help amortize the cost of the mighty 3.0 V6…

          Remember for many years GM was the home of “similar displacement, similar horsepower, completely different engine.”

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “Why would they not just put the 60 degree V6 in these? GM had 3100s and 3400s EVERYWHERE.”

          Because GM.

          This was a GM Europe platform and the high-value V6s aren’t sold there. GM wasn’t about to spend the money to do the engineering to test it all out.

          Of course, that begs the question: why spend all that money to make the Opel Vectra crappier and not change out the engine? Literally everything else about the Vectra was degraded; why they left the powertrain alone was a mystery.

          GM did a lot of stupid right-hand/left-hand stuff like that pre-bankruptcy. From what we learned from the bankruptcy, it was a spectacularly dysfunctional organization.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Why did they buy powertrains from Honda to jam in the Vue when GM had a huge variety of their own available? They did a lot of things that didn’t make much sense.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Why did they develop the L32 3800 Supercharged Series III for one vehicle?! lol

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            GM makes my brain hurt.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I suspect there were internal factions fighting over killing and continuing the 3800. Why even bother to spin up yet another 60V6 iteration in the form of the 3900 when you already had a supercharged Series III 3800 which as you point out only made it into one model (one which was already SULEV compliant in 2005 no less)?

            Complete and total internal dysfunction is the only explanation. This propensity for dysfunction also explains Cadillac today. Todays “Cadillac” level of brand is Lexus, today’s actual Cadillac is closer to Jaguar of old.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh dear that’s quite a damnation, comparing Cadillac to BL Jag.

            (And now I must think about the early-mid 90s XJ6 with the square headlamps. Black over tan.)

            Which is the better engine, the final few years of the 3800 or the current 3.9? I feel like the 3800 was so proven they should have kept it.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @28-cars-later: The Northstar is one of my favorite examples of GM dysfunction. Yes it had issues but lets take the engine on its face.

            GMs first ultramodern V8, loves to rev, sounds like sex when it starts to wail. Hmmmmmmmmm who should we give it to?

            Oh I know – Cadillac where the core customers don’t want to rev and will never explore the full capabilities of the engine.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @corey

            “the final few years of the 3800 or the current 3.9? I feel like the 3800 was so proven they should have kept it.”

            Do you really need to ask me that question? You already know the answer, my son. FWIW the 3900 likes to chew through the 4T60-E in police use at least, probably because the 4T60-E was designed for, wait for it… the torque ratings of the 3800 (230ft/200bhp). L67s tended to chew through them as well for the same reason, I’ve seen many a high mile’d Riv or Park Ave Ultra need one, but the base models never do. Here’s a 70s reference for you Fred: A man’s GOT to know his limitations.

            @PrincipalDan

            Northstar. Good idea, bad design, and horrible execution multiplied by stubborn management. Cadillac would have been far better off keeping the 4.9 for base models and keeping the L37 for Touring models only, this would have at least mitigated the damage. I suspect this wasn’t an option as the 4.x engines were at the time nearly 15 years old and probably could not be converted to OBDII in time for the MY96 federal edict, whereas Northstar could be.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ahh 3800 de santis. Of course.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Oh I know – Cadillac where the core customers don’t want to rev and will never explore the full capabilities of the engine.”

            Indeed, many a Northstar oil consumption issue was caused by excessive carbon buildup on the rings because it had a combustion chamber designed for performance that was never utilized. I started to see these when they came off warranty, and flogging them a bit seemed to help a lot. You should have seen the clouds of carbon coming out the tailpipes of those STSes on those freeway runs.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Northstar oil consumption issue was caused by excessive carbon buildup on the rings because it had a combustion chamber designed for performance that was never utilized.”

            Do tell. I’m more familiar with the coolant/headbolt issues.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Do tell. I’m more familiar with the coolant/headbolt issues.”

            That was about it. They tended to carbon up when grandma never accelerated the engine above 2k rpm. The rings would jam up on the pistons and they’d start to burn oil. We’d flog em a bit, accelerating and downshift decelerating like maniacs on the freeway and that seemed to free things up and reduce the consumption.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Really not that bad, at least in turbo form in Saabs. Biggest issue was that the timing belt pulleys were not good enough to last two timing belt changes. Saab paid for the first timing belt change, but not the pulleys – oops… They had a somewhat difficult to change thermostat too. But no sludge at least, and NVH characteristics much more in keeping with the 9-5s intended mission than the slightly agricultural four. And oddly, much easier to work on in the 9-5 than the four, a much better fit in the engine bay.

        The other issue with them for Saab was that the V6 turbo was a more expensive engine than the turbo 4, but for marketing reasons had to be sold for less money than the Aero.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The chassis wasn’t too bad, fundamentally.

      The engine was. The interior was worse than the engine. The accessories’ reliability was worse than both.

      The same bones made the Saab 9-5, which was a pretty good car and was, shockingly, pretty reliable after they fixed the sludging B235. GM did it no favours when they whored it up with chrome in 2005.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I had completely forgot about the final L versions with the huge lamps and chrome. That’s how rarely I see them.

        http://imganuncios.mitula.net/used_2002_saturn_l_series_lw_4dr_wagon_5420000419214377189.jpg

        This is the one I like, and think of when I think Saturn wagon.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Am I the only one who thought of D-Fens in Falling Down for that second commercial?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I watched that movie for the first time only recently. It’s one of those movies just slightly too old to seem modern – so it comes off as extra dated. I was disappointed with the conclusion. They could have done more with it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Late 80s/early 90s films are “extra dated”? Stay away from 70s flicks or you’ll feel like you’re in the Flintstones.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          HA! You proved my point. Falling Down, 1993.

          EDIT: Sneaky, you changed that quickly.

          But what I mean is, think of how old that movie looks and feels, compared to a movie of just two years later: Jumanji. Something happened where movies from 86-93 feel very old, and 95+ movies feel modern. I should think of some more comparisons.

          Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard 3 (1995)

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Coming to a high school parking lot near you.

  • avatar
    Thatkat09

    The 2.2 4 cylinder engine was actually pretty durable and surprisingly peppy. The 3.0 liter V6 engine however had few redeeming qualities. I’ve almost jumped a couple of times at buying a LW200 as a daily driver but there becoming harder and harder to find. L

  • avatar
    Thatkat09

    The 2.2 4 cylinder engine was actually pretty durable and surprisingly peppy. The 3.0 liter V6 engine however had few redeeming qualities. I’ve almost jumped a couple of times at buying a LW200 as a daily driver but there becoming harder and harder to find.

  • avatar
    OneidaSteve

    I owned a 2003 L300 sedan loaded, and loved it. So there! (I also had a Catera, so I am not to be trusted).

    Seriously, I picked up a 3 year old 30,000 mile L300 white with black leather, V6, etc for like 12,000 at a Benz dealer. Nice warranty. Drove it to 160,000 when a cascading failure of trans, coils, tires and breaks rendered it a total loss.

    Strong points – I thought it handled better than most V6 midsize sedans. Especially with good performance tires. The V6 had a cool gravelly tone, not like the awful pushrod 3.1, but almost Volvo PRV like. It was faster than the catera, and more fun to drive quickly. Leather seats were fine, and durable. Auto HVAC was terrible. uncontrolable. Plasic doors felt flimsy, car never felt tight. A bit too much road and tire noise.

    In the end, I went through too many engine control parts – $$$$ – but everything else was good and cheap to fix. One time I lost ‘spark’ on the tapanzee bridge. that was fun. At 130,000 i put $2,000 into engine electrics. When they all failed again at 160, the gig was up.

    Toyotal gave me 1200 towards a new camry. Oddly, someone fixed the car, and i still see it around.

    I did have a cousin with the 4cyl version, and she had endless electrical trouble (different than mine) and went through 3 AC compressors. Also drives a toyota. Notice the trend….

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “The V6 had a cool gravelly tone, not like the awful pushrod 3.1, but almost Volvo PRV like.”

      There is alot wrong with this statement.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The occasional raspy bark of the 3.1 in my BeakLark was the only positive thing about that sh*theap!

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I don’t think I’ve driven a single GM with a pushrod V6 that didn’t sound startled to be turned on. They’d never fail to start quickly, but that sudden cough to life always seemed like the automotive equivalent of a smoker’s cough (much like a lot of their owners).

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Just this week I walked by an idling Celebrity in the Meijer parking lot, with the 2.8L I assume. Must have been carbureted, it was stinking up the lot with fumes as it burbled through a worn out exhaust system. I’d love to have one of these to cruise around in.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    My brother-in-law had a 2nd gen L200 bug-eyed version. One thing that struck me as odd was the gauge cluster – more specifically with how it was lit at night. During the day, the gauges were fairly attractive – silver faced with black numbers and red needles. At night, however, these gauges were horrible to read. The numbers had white back lighting. but the needles were not back lit – they were lit buy overhead bulbs in the gauge cluster cowl. Since the gauge faces were silver, the overhead lighting would wash out the numbers.

    Good times…..

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    …Who the hell would take a 2.2 Ecotec?

    In my experience, its a noisy unrefined lump that likes to drink oil.

  • avatar
    clivesl

    When is this d-bag going to get banned?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      We had a similar bot in Nancy something or other a while ago. It was fun to mock her.

      She would say things like:

      “This new Nissan presents four doors along with a spacious interior for family travel. The wheels outside the car allow for great rolling power. There are concerns over fuel economy and emissions, which will cause consumer interest in efficient products, of which there are some available through Nissan cars sites and dealerships.”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Why would a banning occur?

  • avatar
    Maymar

    An uncle of mine finally gave up on his early LW300 about a month ago (as another family member was nearly giving away their Elantra) with well over 200k miles on it. I’m not sure that, other than replacing the catalytic converter about a year ago, it needed any major repairs – all just nickle and dime stuff.

    I got to drive it a couple times (along with the occasional Ecotec-powered L-series at work), and it was wholly unremarkable. Much nicer inside than the contemporary Malibu (the pre-Epsilon ones), maybe a couple degrees behind the Accord and Camry at the time (Toyota would rectify that in ’07). Still, unremarkable could’ve worked if GM took its shiny happy dealer network a little more seriously.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    I worked for the General when these came out and drank the Saturn LS Kool-Aid. Ordered an LS1 under the GMO plan (that abbreviation meant something different in the late ’90s) in a 2.2L/5MT combo (they exist!) with all the toys.

    What a heap. The dash structure was made out of some pressboard nonsense and would crackle over railroad tracks. Pressing the sunroof switch made the headliner move an easy 5/8″. All very typical GM half-assery for that period. The car did have nice seats though and a pretty decent suspension tune for what it was.

    With maybe 5,000 miles on the odometer the power steering pump seized and, because it was driven by a camshaft gear drive, the whole mechanism exploded and blew power steering fluid all over the exhaust manifold creating quite a cloud in my driveway. While it was still at the dealer for that repair the clutch mechanism and A/C compressor gave out.

    It was about then that I gave up on GM both for a career and for transportation.

  • avatar

    My parents had one of these, a 2002 wagon. It was probably the most interesting tune of L-Series: wagon, 5 spd manual, fairly highly optioned. In spite of this, it was a generally terrible car: massive panel gaps, uncomfortable seats, wheezy EcoTec engine (also a ticking time bomb), underspec’d electrical system that dimmed all the panel lights when the A/C was turned on. The clutch was replaced twice before 120,000 km.

    That aside, it did allow me to walk away unscathed from a fairly serious crash in 2009, at which point it was replaced by a much newer, vastly superior Saab 9-5 wagon (still with us today, and totally trouble free at 250,000 km.)

  • avatar
    webibeay

    Had a 2002 L200 w/the premium package and absolutely loved this car. Managed to put nearly 120,000 miles on it in 4 years back when I was on the road for my old job — It never broke and only required normal maintenance. Drove like a dream, fantastic brakes, and heated seats that were probably the hottest I’ve ever seen (would actually burn if left on high too long). Just a great vehicle overall.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    I bought one of these from a friend a few years ago for $1000. Had 150k miles on it. Still one of the most reliable cars I’ve ever owned, and the only GM product. Thrilling it wasn’t, but it was very comfortable and fuel efficient and even somewhat refined. A highly underrated effort; it really should have sold better.

    PS Mine had the 2.2L Ecotec; not the most refined engine, but powerful enough and the car was a solid freeway cruiser. I certainly didn’t have any problems with the lights dimming when the A/C came on or anything.

  • avatar
    ATLOffroad

    My dad bought a 2001 L200 when these first came out. In fact, this was his third Saturn. I enjoyed this car. The one thing I remember is how bright the headlights were. This helped when dodging deer in rual Georgia. The 4cyl had plenty of power and the upgraded 9 speaker stereo sounded really good. After 120,000 trouble free miles my brother-in-law plowed into a UPS truck. We still talk about that car. It was the same color as the one in this junkyard.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    It’s weird seeing one of these in the junkyard. I’m used to seeing them with at least one donut (temporary spare tire) and holding up traffic in the fast lane.


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