As part of the Saturn S-Series, the SC1 is a coupe trim offered in 1993. Its main selling points included a very affordable price tag, easy-and-cheap-to-fix components, and pretty good gas mileage. As a matter of fact, the SC1, along with its sedan and wagon counterparts, were some of the most fuel-efficient cars in the US during their production years. According to EPA tests at that time, SC1s with a manual transmission and a single, overhead cam engine reached 40 miles per US gallon on the highway.
In 2002, General Motors—Saturn’s parent company—pulled the plug on the Saturn SC1 and discontinued the model. But because of its highly fuel efficient engine, the SC1 remains a popular option among second-hand buyers looking for a cheap yet reliable vehicle.
1993-1996: First generation
In 1991, an SC (coupe) version from the Saturn S-Series was introduced. Initially available in only one trim (SC), an expanded trim line-up was launched two years later. In 1993, two trim levels were being offered: SC1 and SC2. To set the SC1 apart from the SC2 trim, it was equipped with a 1.9 L, SOHC 14 LKO engine that produced 85 hp. This engine was upgraded into an L24 engine that produced 100 hp in 1995. To further set it apart, the SC1 featured a front fascia similar to what the SL (sedan) and SW (wagon) models were equipped with. Saturn also decided not to equip the SC1 with a rear stabilizer bar and a trunk lid reflector to make it very different from the SC2 model. By designing the SC1 with components from the SL and SW parts bin, Saturn was able to come up with a distinctly styled vehicle that was much more affordable.
1997-1999: Second generation
For the second-gen SC1, the same powertrain and construction techniques were carried over. However, this version was restyled by building in on a 102.4-inch wheelbase, the same one used in the SL and SW units. This resulted in a more spacious rear leg room. In 1999, a rear-hinged third door was added on the driver’s side. The goal for this additional door was to make putting stuff in the back seats easier, although it also improved ingress and egress in this area.
2001-2002: Third generation
2001 saw the launching of the third-gen SC1. This version was very similar to its second-gen predecessor except for certain style changes. Minor changes were done to improve product line-up, and power and body control modules were added. Saturn decided to end things with a bang so it offered the Saturn Expression Series for this last generation. Units under this series can be equipped with optional performance parts such as GT Styling ground effects, Progress Group suspension springs, and an HKS exhaust and intake system.