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Eye Candy: Sporty Saturn a Rarity

It’s not old enough to be an antique, but it sure is eye candy.

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Sporty Saturn a rarity

The car: 2006 Saturn Ion Red Line Sport Compact Quad Coupe

The owners: Robin Wilson and Mary Baetz, Toronto

Our story: It’s not old enough to be an antique, but it sure is eye candy. A bright red, high performance sports car with a flashy rear wing and rear suicide doors. Who would have thought that the Saturn Division of General Motors would ever produce a car like that?

We bought our Red Line new in 2006 and now, in 2016, the odometer is just breaking 70,000 kilometres. It listed at $27,000, and given Saturn’s no-haggle, the price-is-the-price policy, that is what we paid. We later learned it was a bargain. The Red Line came on the market with the lowest price of any of the cars in its class.

For the Red Line, the engineers at the GM Performance Division retuned the springs, bumped-up the braking with oversized disc brakes on all wheels, made the sway bars more rigorous and lowered the chassis height by one inch compared to the standard Ion. With 17” forged alloy wheels and Dunlop Sport SP9000 215/45ZR17 tires, the Red Line looked every bit the performance car it was meant to be.

At the time, we were simply looking for a peppy car. We got that in spades! With its turbocharged 205 horsepower engine and front-wheel drive, the Red Line could hit 60 mph in a scant 6.0 seconds according to the test results. And it could stop, too, from 70 mph to zero in 164 feet, which John Phillips of Car and Driver magazine described in his review as “Porschey Territory

We like the Recaro front seats. Very racy! Very comfortable! They keep us in place without the “grip of death” that I have felt in some other cars. The rear seats are actually large enough and have sufficient leg room for passengers to enjoy a short trip around town.

From a practical point of view, the rear suicide doors provide great access to the rear seats. From a pride-of-ownership point of view, I can’t tell you how many times we hear people say, “How cool is that!”

There are not many Ion Red Lines on the road. Over the past ten years, we have seen three others at most, so we knew that they were relatively rare. Just how rare, though, we did not realize until we did the research for this article. Saturn kept the car in production for just four model years, from 2004 until it was discontinued at the end of the 2007 model year. During that time, they built 5,827 of them of which only 662 were red like ours.

We love our Ion Red Line, but we’re getting on in age. The only racing that we do now is the race against time, the time when our old knees give out working the clutch on the 5-speed Getrag F35 manual transmission in Toronto’s unending, stop-and-go traffic. Our next car is going to be an automatic.

Show us your candy: Got a cool custom or vintage car? Send us a picture of you and your family with your beauty, and tell us your story. And we like photos — the more the better — of the interior, trim, wheels, emblems, what you admire. Email wheels@thestar.ca and be sure to use “Eye Candy” in the subject line.

ALSO READMy First Car – 2001 Saturn SL1

More eye candy:

1953 Chevrolet 210

1956 MG Magnette

1981 Trabant De Luxe

1931 Plymouth PA Deluxe

1942 “Pearl Harbor” Buick

Show us your candy: Got a cool custom or vintage car? Send us a picture of you and your family with your beauty, and tell us your story. And we like photos — the more the better — of the interior, trim, wheels, emblems, what you admire. Email wheels@thestar.ca and be sure to use “Eye Candy” in the subject line.

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