Junkyard Find: 2008 Saturn Astra XE

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2008 saturn astra xe

Remember the Saturn Astra? A Belgian-built Opel Astra, it was supposed to replace the Ion, but GM had a few distractions around that time and axed the Saturn Astra early in 2009… followed by the Saturn brand itself.

Just two model years, poor sales, weird Euro-Detroit badge-engineering hijinks, and a near-instant disappearance from cultural memory: just what I like best in a Junkyard Find!

I had been keeping my eyes open for an Astra for a couple of years, and it took a bad crash to send this one to a Denver self-service yard. It appears that someone nabbed the transmission, leaving the 138 hp Ecotec 1.8-liter sitting atop the wreckage.

The huge panoramic sunroof was a signature Saturn feature during the marque’s final years.

This one still has the manual for the futuristic audio system, which could play MP3 files on home-burned CDs; meanwhile, younger car buyers wanted to plug their Zunes into auxiliary audio input jacks, which I’m pretty sure this car doesn’t have. Bluetooth? That’ll never catch on!

This one has stickers from two different Colorado car dealers, including one on the other side of the Rockies from this yard.

I have never been a driver or passenger in an Astra, but I hear that they were pretty good driving cars (by late-2000s GM standards), though on the underpowered side. The interior certainly has that “affordable European commuter” look.

Definitely a couple of Zune owners here.

Isn’t trying to be cool the furthest thing from being cool?

Over in Yurp, it was assumed that most Astra buyers would want the manual transmission.

In Australia, the Holden Astra became the driver, which made parking easier.

Egyptian Astras did some impressive stunts.

In Poland, the Astra had, uh, Zorro?

Meanwhile, in Russia.

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  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Aug 23, 2018

    a work friend had a Saturn Opel SUV Vue?, it was solidly built , quiet but had very little rear leg room and was thirsty compared to Equinoxes, Escapes it competed with, but had a nicer interior than all of them.

  • Dannew02 Dannew02 on Sep 09, 2018

    In 2008, my wife and I were having our first kid. SHe basically forbid me from putting her in either my Miata, or my Dodge Shadow, because obviously a baby would immediately die in either of those cars (rolleyes) Anyway she said I HAD to get a brand-new car, and the Astra was the first one I looked at. I liked the manual-trans 4-door hatch because I had a couple of those already (Dodge Lancer, Plymouth Duster and the Shadow I currently had) Anyway I really liked the Astras I saw, but the dealer only had fully-loaded examples on hand, and basically refused to let me order one the way I wanted. I also looked at Nissan Versas as well. The Nissan dealer also only had loaded, auto vehicles, but was willing to get me one equipped the way I wanted. After driving both of them, they were grossly similar- neither was as quick as my V6 Shadow, the Astra felt "nicer" than the Versa (of course being the loaded-up version) it had too much "stuff". I'm old and don't want power stuff or phone integration. THe base Versa also literally cost 1/2 of what the fancy Astra cost! It didn't have projector headlights, sunroof, aluminum wheels, etc but I didn't want any of that, anyway... The Saturn dealer literally said, "These are what we have, take it or leave it" and they did the "no haggle" pricing too, so I could literally buy two Versas for what all the Astras were gonna cost. I really wanted to buy something "American" (stupid, because I knew they were made in Europe) but I went with the Nissan and less than a year later Saturn was gone. The former Saturn dealer is now a used car lot/oil change place... I put over 100K on my Versa in less than 4 years, and the only problem I had with it was hitting a deer, so I think I made the right decision.

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.