At $3,950, Will This 2002 Saturn SC2 Ring Up A Win?

At $3,950, Will This 2002 Saturn SC2 Ring Up A Win?

Saturn, the planet, may be nothing more than a big ball of gas, but the Saturn car division was all about gas mileage and efficient size. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice SC2 is touted in its ad as a gas-saver. Let’s see whether its price offers savings as well.

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Yesterday’s 2003 Dodge Durango R/T may have been the undefeated MoparMania champ, but its customizations and $5,000 price didn’t play well in our comments or the voting. In the end, that resulted in a 75 percent No Dice loss.

Happy All Hallows’ Eve, my fellow Halloween-a-reenos! Today’s the day when the witching hour comes early, ghouls and goblins freely roam the streets, knocking on doors demanding sweet treats, and pumpkins trade their guts for ghastly glows.

Should trick-or-treaters happen upon today’s 2002 Saturn SC2, they might be pleasantly surprised to discover that it has three doors from which to choose — two in front and a semi-hidden third portal behind the driver’s door to ease egress to the rear seats. Let’s see if this Saturn’s price tag makes it an especially tasty treat.

Now, generally, if you’re looking for a cheap set of wheels, you’re going to buy used. In the pre-owned market, there are a number of safe bets to be had, things like older Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas. Of course, few of us are the type to take the safe route. For those of us living on that frayed edge of society, this SC2 holds a great deal of appeal.

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The car comes with just 98,000 miles on the ticker, as well as the promise that everything is in working order and that it passes its required smog test. This being an SC2 means it’s powered by the DOHC, 16-valve edition of Saturn’s LLo 1.9-liter four. Had it been an SC1, that would be the SOHC 8-valve edition.

With that doubling of cams and valves, the mill produces 124 horsepower and 122 lb-ft of torque. In this SC2, that’s mated to a four-speed automatic featuring a console shifter. With less than 2,500 pounds to pull around, this drivetrain should still prove adequate while still offering excellent fuel efficiency.

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Now, there are a couple of locational oddities on the SC2. The first is the emergency brake, which has its handle mounted on the passenger side of the central tunnel. That seems a little weird and somewhat precarious if you don’t trust your co-pilot. The other is that semi-handy third door. It is rear-hinged as expected, leaving a pillarless gap when both it and the driver’s door are opened. The thing is that opening faces onto the road instead of to the safety of the curb, as might be preferred by people who don’t enjoy dodging traffic. Alas, decisions were made. The Saturn Ion coupe that followed the SC added a second rear-hinged half door to the passenger side — and moved the e-brake to the middle of the console.

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This SC2 looks to be in great shape despite its being of drinking age. The red paint still pops with no apparent fading on either its plastic or metal panels. The factory alloy wheels are also up to snuff and feature a wonderfully ’90s design. In the cabin, things are expectedly chintzy — this was, after all, the Saturn way. It’s still clean and looks reasonably comfortable. This is also a car that’s modern enough to have dual airbags and rear shoulder belts. In total, there are belts for four in the car, with the Saturn’s small-ish size laudably not pretending to be capable of handling three abreast in the back. A console with cup holders and cubby spaces serves in lieu of a middle passenger seat.

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According to the ad, the car just passed its smog test and comes with a clean title, both of which should make registration under a new owner a simple matter. All that’s left to consider is the $3,950 price. That may seem like a slam-dunk, but then we must reconsider all other options at this price point. Is this a good choice to make, considering that GM ‘Old Yeller’d’ Saturn back in 2010, meaning parts availability might not be as easy as that of a contemporary Toyota or Honda?

What do you think, is this SC2 worth that $3,950 as it’s presented in its ad? Or does that price make this Saturn more of a trick than a treat?

You decide!

Long Beach, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Don R. for the hookup!

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