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.
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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