Junkyard Find: 2001 Saturn L200

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Saturn 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!

The 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!

A billion dollars, gone.

Somebody dropped the subframe and grabbed the Ecotec 2.2 out of this car.

Window 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.





Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • ATLOffroad ATLOffroad on Feb 13, 2015

    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.

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Feb 13, 2015

    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.

  • Tane94 Workhorse probably will be added to the heap of failed EV companies.
  • Freddie Instead of taking the day off, how about an article on the connection between Black Americans and the auto industry and car culture? Having done zero research, two topics pop into my head: Chrysler designer/executive Ralph Gilles, and the famous (infamous?) "Green Book".
  • Tane94 Either Elio Motors or Aptera Motors.
  • Billccm I think we will see history repeat itself. The French acquired AMC in the 1980s, discovered they couldn't make easy money, sold AMC off to Chrysler. Jeep is all that remained. This time the French acquired FCA, and they are discovering no easy profits. Assume an Asian manufacturer will acquire what remains of Chrysler, but this time Jeep and RAM are the only survivors.
  • William I feel very sorry for those who attempt to use an attack on a product as a way to deprecate an individual whose politics they disagree with. They delude themselves and mislead others.
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