HomeAbout Classics and PerformanceRyan KingA Poor Decision

1997 Saturn SL

A Poor Decision

It was February of 2006 when I made the unfortunate decision to buy this amazing 1997 Saturn SL.

My '66 Mustang, the New 351, blew a head gasket — well, ok, blew it more...it seems it had a partially blown head gasket when I bought it — and it was going to require some major surgery to repair. To make the situation that much worse, the rest of the engine, clutch, and transmission were in bad shape, too, and I needed transportation quickly.

This is a shitty position to buy a car from.

As a result, I bought the first pile that had low enough miles and the ability to propel itself in a forward direction.

I ended up spending too much on it and the engine forever burned oil, it just didn't do it when I drove it initially. The real irony is that even after I replaced the engine because it was dying, the used replacement engine also burned oil.

Turns out it was a known issue with the engineering of the 1.9L SOHC Saturns — just not known to me until it was too late.

To compound it, the car was a front-wheel drive four-banger with four doors and I have a strong aversion to four door cars, front wheel drive, and four-cylinder engines.

Consequently, "the Saturn," became an extremely pejorative term for me.

On the positive side, it did have a manual transmission and got upwards of 40mpg.

When the second engine was on its last legs, I dumped it...for another Saturn of all things, and, oddly enough, that Saturnthe SL2I ended up loving to pieces. Photo: Ryan King, 2006.

No, really.

Ryan King Photo Album | Image 12 of 19

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