Connect with us


At $3,900, Is This 1997 Saturn SW1 a Good Deal?



Nice Price or No Dice 1997 Saturn SW1

Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Saturn is the antithesis of another GM brand, the recently resurrected Hummer. Let’s see if this plastic-bodied wagon’s price makes it synonymous with good value.

Watching the votes for yesterday’s $14,000 2011 Range Rover SC tally in real-time was fun as it jumped back and forth between those in its favor and those against. Half of you seemed to feel “that’s a lot of car for the money,” while the others countered that it was “a lot of future problems that would eventually cost a lot of money.” Ultimately, the dreamers held sway, with the Range Rover taking home a 53 percent Nice Price win.

That was a close one. Perhaps we’ve been setting our sights too high? Today let’s look at an older car that, while not truly a beater owing to its condition, is still something that shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to keep on the road. In fact, with its plastic body panels, five-speed manual, and fascinating corporate history, this 1997 Saturn SW1 might actually be a keeper.

Image for article titled At $3,900, Will This 1997 Saturn SW1 Run Rings Around the Competition?

General Motors debuted Saturn’s products—a coupe, sedan, and wagon—for the 1991 model year as its clean-sheet import-fighter brand. The new company nominally replaced GM’s moribund Geo brand of actual imports and was set up with a bespoke factory in Tennessee.

Those initial models were built with a spaceframe construction, to which metal and polymer body panels were fastened, a practice that GM had earlier pioneered with the Pontiac Fiero. The plastic side panels provided dent resistance but required significantly wider gaps between the panels to account for the material’s greater dimensional changes during temperature shifts. That led to a perception by some that the cars were of poor quality.

Image for article titled At $3,900, Will This 1997 Saturn SW1 Run Rings Around the Competition?

That wasn’t the only unique feature given to the cars. They also received a 1.9 liter alloy four in either SOHC or DOHC flavors and Saturn-only transmissions. The last big differentiator for the brand was a no-haggle pricing strategy for its dealers.

There aren’t any Saturn dealers around any longer, the brand having been killed off by GM in 2010. There still are plenty of the brand’s cars kicking around, however, as—especially the earliest models—proved fairly reliable and capable.

This second-generation wagon seems a fine example of those attributes. Being the SW1, it sports the SOHC edition of the 1.9 liter four, which in this model year made an honest 100 horsepower. Notably, that’s backed up by the MP2 five-speed manual which in the SW1 was geared to wring every last mile out of a gallon of gas. As fitted, this small wagon should be capable of giving 40 mpg on the highway.

Image for article titled At $3,900, Will This 1997 Saturn SW1 Run Rings Around the Competition?

Naturally, as a baseline model, there’s not much here. That means there’s not much to go wrong either. The windows are manual crank as are the door locks and mirrors. Boo-freaking-hoo to that. On the plus side, there’s oodles of utility in the back despite the rear wheel arches and suspension encroaching on the load area. The bench seat ahead of that has an asymmetrical split but doesn’t seem to be capable of having either side lowered independently. Still, fold them both down and the car offers an appreciatively flat load area.

The wagon has 131,324 miles showing and looks to be in very decent shape for those miles. The gold paint still holds a shine and there’s no scuffing on the wheel covers (don’t believe Facebook Marketplace, those aren’t alloys).

Image for article titled At $3,900, Will This 1997 Saturn SW1 Run Rings Around the Competition?

The cabin features cloth upholstery and plastics that, while chintzy as all get out, look to have held up admirably. The only element that really seems to show its age is the passenger-side airbag cover which looks wizened and out of place. I would touch that if I were you. An updated stereo unit holds court in the center stack above the climate controls. And yes, this car does have A/C.

According to the ad, the car is in great condition and is offered for sale due to the seller just having too damn-many cars. The title is clear and the asking price is $3,900.

Now, in the before times this Saturn would probably have gone for about half that. But that was then, and this is now, so save the indignation. Instead, channel it into a positive force, and let’s see if we think this SW1 is worth that $3,900 asking in today’s market.

Image for article titled At $3,900, Will This 1997 Saturn SW1 Run Rings Around the Competition?

What do you think, should the seller get nearly four grand for this basic but sensible wagon? Or, does that price put this Saturn in a totally different orbit?

You decide!

Facebook Marketplace out of Independence, Oregon, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Jim H. for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Continue Reading

Recent News

Exhibition Game Exhibition Game
How to10 hours ago

How to Choose the Ideal Exhibition Game for Your Event

Hosting an event involves a multitude of decisions, from the venue to the catering, but one aspect that can make...

Boiler Boiler
Guide2 days ago

When Is the Best Time to Replace a Boiler?

A boiler is a workhorse that works around the clock. It provides heat and warm water whenever needed. While horses...

Grammar Grammar
Tech2 days ago

Grammar Checkers Unleashed: Enhancing Writing Precision and Efficiency

In the present computerized age, the ascent of simulated intelligence innovation has presented new difficulties in regards to the genuineness...

Crypto Staking Crypto Staking
Crypto6 days ago

Is it Possible To Make Money On Crypto Staking in 2024?

In the modern world, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are becoming increasingly popular, attracting the attention of investors and users from...

Lake Como Lake Como
Wedding6 days ago

How to Choose the Right Location for a Marriage Proposal in Italy and Lake Como

Proposing marriage is a unique and memorable moment in a couple’s life. Choosing the right location is crucial to creating...

Personal Injury Lawyer Personal Injury Lawyer
Law1 week ago

Finding the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Lumberton, NC

Personal injury law is designed to protect individuals who have been harmed due to the negligence or wrongful actions of...

WhatsApp Business WhatsApp Business
Business1 week ago

Running WhatsApp Business with Pro+VPS for Android Emulator

WhatsApp Business is one of the most powerful tool for Business to manage customers communication. Running it can enhance the...

Civil Partnership Visa Civil Partnership Visa
Finance2 weeks ago

Civil Partnership Visa vs Spouse Visa: Which One is Right for You

Choosing the right visa to join your partner in the UK can be confusing. Two common options are the Civil...

Crypto Crypto
Crypto2 weeks ago

Staked Crypto – A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Ethereum staking has become an increasingly popular way for cryptocurrency holders to earn passive income through staking rewards. In this...

Ethereum Staking Ethereum Staking
Crypto2 weeks ago

Maximizing Ethereum Staking Rewards: Tips and Tricks

Are you looking to maximize the potential of your Ethereum holdings? Stake Ethereum using OkayCoin and take advantage of the...