By on July 27, 2021

Over the weekend a gaggle of sign-toting individuals assembled at the Detroit Renaissance Center to demand General Motors restore the long-defunct Saturn brand. While we would wager that there were a few earnest individuals keen to see the return of “A Different Kind of Company,” the event was actually a last-minute goof put on by attendees of the Michigan Concours d’Lemons ⁠— America’s favored auto show for bizarre or impressively awful vehicle designs.

Someone forgot to tell the media, however. 

Fox2 Detroit even televised a segment interviewing the “protestors,” many of which had tongue-in-cheek signs about the importance of plastic body panels and how the car would never rust. Many spoke sarcastically on camera about the need for Saturn’s return, often with gleeful looks on their faces as they realized the bait had been taken and the joke had received mainstream press coverage. But there were a few people that leveled with the camera and reminisced about Saturn products they actually owned or stated the present need for a simple, economical automobile made in America.

The outlet has since removed the story from its website, presumably because it finally realized it’s been had. But the televised segment remains available on the Concours d’Lemons Facebook page. Curiously, the reporter on the scene gives off the sense that she’s aware that the event was largely held in jest near the end. Though the piece itself never indicates the satirical nature of the crowd.

But how did this all come together in the first place?

Apparently, Detroit Bus Company CEO Andy Didorosi was tasked by Lemons attendees to give them an automotive-centric tour of the city and he obliged. According to Jalopnik, the Renaissance Center was the final stop and the group crafted the idea to assemble in front of GM’s headquarters at the very last minute. Hastily crafted signs were then distributed with slogans explaining how everyone was now too poor to afford automobiles that weren’t Saturns, the need for more plastic in cars, and other backhanded compliments about the brand.

Meanwhile, Didorosi contacted the local news.

From Jalopnik:

Andy told anyone who would take his call that two bus-loads of people, including some from as far away as Florida, were showing up to GM’s doorstep to shout about a brand that has been dead for eleven years. Not a word of that was a lie, but the local stations seemingly didn’t realize the whole thing was kind of a joke — not that that the LeMons Rally people would necessarily be opposed to a Saturn revival.

According to Lemons staffer Eric Rood, one of the participants even told the news crews in attendance that the whole thing was a stunt for “Lemons Rally” and they replied with something like “Yeah, I know this is a protest rally.” Of course, that just made the jape all the more delicious.

Ironically, just about every piece I came across discussing the stunt or sharing the now-deleted Fox2 clip included comments that praised Saturn products they’ve owned… while simultaneously admitting they left a lot to be desired. Yours truly also falls into that camp, having once purchased a used 1994 Saturn SL that burned oil and lacked A/C for a paltry $300. Despite not being in the best shape, repairs were cheap and easy. It became my go-to ride whenever projects had taken my primary vehicle out of action. The car went down in history as an impossible-to-kill shitbox, rivaled only by the battered secondhand 1998 Toyota Corolla that replaced it. Though I’m not sure if that’s a testament to the greatness of Saturn or a condemnation of my own purchasing decisions.

[Images: Fox2 Detroit]

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19 Comments on “Media Confuses Pro-Saturn Lemons Gag as Earnest Protest...”

  • avatar

    Bring back… Saturn? Is there an August Fools Day now?

  • avatar

    An acquaintance of mine regularly finds these 20 year old jalopy Saturns, does the barest minimum to make them driveable: sawdust in oil to thicken, clears trouble codes (doesn’t fix them or anything), does a quick rattlecan paint job and then sells them to unsuspecting marks for many magnitudes more than they’re worth.

    He’s a Saturn guy from the word go, not realizing that just about anything is a better car at this point.

    His lack of ethics is only one reason why I don’t consider him a friend.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Yes, all the GM brands are coming back. The Japanese and Korean brands are way too far behind on EV and self driving technologies. Soon Buick/Pontiac/GMC/Hummer wlll be moving into dealerships left empty by Toyota, and Saturn/Oldsmobile will be moving into empty Nissan dealerships

  • avatar
    el scotto

    A true swing and a miss by GM. Full disclosure, I had two Saturns. At 1st, they were a different kind of car. I believe that early Saturns were equal to Corollas/Civics. GM being GM could leave well enough alone. Quality teams where replaced by assembly lines. Then internal corporate pressure came into play. Then the did the opposite of what GM usually does; Saturns got worse as they went on. Their Swan song was the duet of the Vue and the German imported thing.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a first gen Vue with the 2.2 Ecotec and 5 spd. Thing was a dog and its plastic fantastic nature didn’t earn any fit and finish contest, but it proved very reliable. I only replaced a coil pack and a shifter cable.

      • 0 avatar

        My old landlord bought a brand new 2004 Ion sedan 2.4 to replace an 80’s Chevy and still has it to this day. Other than having to get used to the center dash she loves it and has had very little issues with it despite having over 100K miles. she says she is going to keep it until she croaks since rudderless GM refuses to make sedans these days equivalent to her Ion.

        • 0 avatar
          Felix Hoenikker

          I bought a 2004 Ion new with the 2.2L ecotec engine and manual 5 speed tranny. It was the only car I ever purchased new that passed my $100/100K miles unscheduled maintenance cost goal. I passed it on to one of my sons at 250k miles. It meet it’s end still on the original clutch after a minor accident at 286k miles. It may have been a little crude compared to it Japanese rivals at the time, but it’s low purchase price and exceptional reliability have not been matched by any car I purchased new since. Bring back the plastic!

  • avatar

    the British Leyland t-shirt should have been the tip-off that it was a gag…

  • avatar

    Saturn sounds futuristic. It could be BEV maker. Imagine BEV made from plastic and named after the most mysterious and beautiful planet in Solar system. Just imagine for a second.

  • avatar

    When Saturns were introduced, i was a fan of Honda. I loved the gen 1 Accords and gen 2 Civic 1500GL.
    The Detroit News featured a long test drive of the new Saturn. I thought to myself, the car will be “GM Average.” Crap compared to a Honda.

    I was right. The news story said it was pretty ok. MPG were not real good. Complained about poor engine and driveline NVH. I knew it.

    And you know what? I knew they WOULD NOT get better over time.

  • avatar

    Interesting comparison of family sedans on-offer from the Big Three.

    FWIW, not to nitpick… but that picture of the Intrepid can’t be a ’97 since it has the pentastar emblem on the fenders; must be an earlier model.
    The Taurus pictured can’t be a ’97 since it lacks the amber colored rear turn signals (must be a 98-99)
    And the last Grand Prix is a 2001+ base-model SE; the ’97s SEs still had an unique “bottom breather” grill

  • avatar

    Oh, well, here goes:

    Buy: The Grand Prix. This was an excellent design, Pontiac truly put a lot of thought into the interior, and–with some basic maintenance and/or reconditioning–the 3800 should last into perpetuity

    Drive: The Taurus. I think the ovoid design actually worked well (or, at least, it did until 2000, when they dumbed it down and the Taurus fell into fleet-queen status). I would prefer a 1996, because that’s when Ford pulled out all the stops, not realizing they’d have to cost-cut the crap out of it in 1997, in order to hit the newly downgraded Camry’s price point.

    Burn: The Intrepid. I am keenly fascinated with longitude-transaxle cars of all sorts, but for some reason, I don’t have any love for the LH cars, especially the early ones.

  • avatar

    This article is a waste of space.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I bought a new 2008 Saturn Aura XR for the wife about a month before the GM bankruptcy. It was a very positive dealer experience and I paid about $24K for the fully loaded car with a MSRP of $30K. We had it 8 years and it was a great car. The 3.6 V6 had plenty of power and I felt it was superior in very way to her previous 2000 Maxima (which I paid $3000 more for at that time) and also had for 8 years. The Caribbean brown leather option was very attractive. I received an extended warranty letter from GM concerning the wave plate in the transmission and I did have that done shortly before selling it with only 65K miles. Overall we were very happy with the car and gave us no problems other than that and we were grateful GM covered it.

    At the time I am sure that the dealership knew Saturn was going away but the buying experience was still overwhelmingly positive, as compared to the Maxima experience after which I felt like I needed to take a shower

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