Future Collectible? 1994 Saturn SW2 5-Speed Wagon

Bear with me on this one. This 1994 Saturn SW2 isn’t that old but it’s 26 years old which predates a good percentage of Barn Finds readers. It’s not particularly fast, although it does have a sweet twin-cam engine. Fun to drive? Maybe, since this one has a 5-speed manual. Those last two features make it at least somewhat collectible, in my opinion. It can be found here on craigslist in gorgeous Vancouver, Washington, just across the Columbia River north of Portland, Oregon. The seller is asking what seems like a steal of a price: $1,650.

Take the Greyhound out, drive this Saturn wagon back home, what’s not to like about that scenario? This is a first-generation Saturn which may be another check in the future collectible box? The first-generation S-series Saturn was made from 1990 to 1996 but the wagon, the SW, started in 1993. The twin-cam engine is the one to have and the fact that this wagon has a 5-speed makes it even more desirable, and dare I say, collectible. You all know about the plastic composite body panels so this car will look as good 25 years from now as it does now, or it should if it doesn’t end up as a winter car in Minnesota for some oddball… (cough)

This isn’t a low-mile trailer queen, though, it has 170,000 miles, but I’m not sure if those are all driving miles as the seller says that it can be towed behind your motorhome. I don’t see a towbar on the front so maybe they’re just saying that because of the 5-speed manual transmission. I had a 2002 Saturn SL-1, a four-door sedan and it had a 5-speed which made it a fun car to drive. It had 100 horsepower so 25 less than this wagon, but shifting is always fun unless you’re at a stoplight on a steep hill in Seattle and the cars are lined up behind you… ouch. You learn how to use the parking brake real quickly for those “launches”. If anything with 100-hp can be said to “launch” anywhere.

The interior of this one-owner car has the dreaded automatic seatbelts which take away a bit of the fun for me as far as being a collectible car. And, a dash pad is never a good sign when there isn’t a photo of the dash without the pad or a mention of it at all. The seats are a bit dirty and this one doesn’t have power windows or locks but the back seat looks like new and you could fold down those seats and sleep in it at night on your drive back home. Bonus!

The rear struts intrude quite a bit into the rear cargo space, but hey, it’s better than having them on the outside… wait, what? I mean, you’ll just have to pack lightly. Having a 5-speed is a huge bonus but the big thing with this car is the sweet 1.9L double-overhead-cam inline-four which has about 125 horsepower. It’s a 25% boost in power over my former Saturn which is a fairly big jump. Lots of owners have tweaked them to have much more than that. I know that this Saturn is fairly new and it’s a wagon with plastic-composite body panels so it may not be real exciting for a lot of you muscle car folks. But, if I were to have a running list of possible collector cars in future decades, this twin-cam 5-speed Saturn SW2 would be on my list. Have any of you owned a Saturn wagon?

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Another good ( not great) find. I had a ’93 SL2, and was a good car. Practically impossible to work on, but the car did everything it’s Asian counterparts did. It had 210K when I got it, put at least another 20K on it, and sold it for what I paid for it. Pert near cost free driving. Got super mileage, low 30’s, but working on it was awful, ( starter, serpentine belt pulley, fuel filter were totally hidden), and you had to remove the right front wheel to change the oil filter. Very poorly designed. Saturn was a great idea, with good dealer support and a party every year in Tennessee for all the owners. Just couldn’t keep pace with the Asians. I think the crappy Ion was the one that took Saturn down, they made a decent SUV, tho, the Vue, son in law has one with a ton of miles. To be honest, it’s one car I don’t care to have again, especially one with 170K.

    Like 6
    • William

      I do not agree. We have had two Ions in the family, dependable cars, though not very exciting.

      Like 6
    • 67GrandPrix

      I owned a ’93 SL2 from brand new until 2005. I never had to remove the front wheel to change the oil filter. I had to remove the front wheel to replace the serpentine belt and replace the water pump, but that’s all. I sold that car to a friend when it had 220K on the odometer. As for comparison to imports…my wife had a ’93 Accord when we married. That car was a royal pain to work on under the hood…still had v-belts. I changed the timing belt in it once…had to remove the engine mount bolts to push the motor back to have space to remove the timing belt cover. Oh, and the water pump was run of a small belt BEHIND the timing belt. THAT was poorly designed.

      Like 5
  2. MH

    Was junk in 1994, still junk today.

    Like 9
  3. jerry z

    Damn I hated though seatbelts! Future collectable? No.

    Like 4
    • Bill D

      People once scoffed at the idea of malaise-era junkboxes ever being collectible, and now people are bidding up the prices of those cars. You never know.

      Like 4
      • chrlsful

        CL::Portland/Cowlitz
        “This posting has been deleted by its author.”
        I wonder if by our listing here, we harass?

        Plastic resists the elements in NE usa. Motor is a winner, package (dwn szed s. wagon) is great.
        It My Daily (esp @ this price)!

        Thnx Scotto!

        Like 1
  4. LandYacht

    OK I’ll be the dissenter here I like the Saturn I owned a 1997 SL2 5 speed car, it was indestructible, in the Northeast winters went through snow like hot knife through butter, it was a really nice car only reason I got rid of it was our family got too big for it. Would get 40 mpg on highway and 30+ in the city. This is a nice find, and it 15 years people Will be talking about it almost like that 66 Belvedere wagon although not quite as desirable

    Like 5
  5. Jim

    I might see posting this car if it were in mint condition. But this one looks pretty beat. Doesn’t really classify as a barn find. It’s just a worn out 26 year old car.

    Like 5
  6. Bill

    Collectable like a Nash or Studebaker is today. Amazed that the rear storage is so restricted. We owned several small wagons in the 80’s-90’s and nothing like that lack of space.

  7. Arby

    And if it breaks, just take it down to your dealer – or call GM, I’m sure they would help you out…

    Like 1
  8. Gremlin X

    My neck can almost feel that seatbelt closing in on it.

    Like 3
  9. ACZ

    Roger Smith’s folly. Ho-him……

  10. ACZ

    Hum. (Damned auto-correct).

  11. Richard Nepon

    I had a 96 Saturn that I bought for $500 with 239,000 miles and a hood and fender and bumper that was a result of a deer impact. I found the parts used privately and installed them in the seller’s driveway. They were the same color! I put lower profile hood tires on and it transformed the handling in ways I didn’t expect. The car became fun. I drove it back and forth from Pennsylvania to Florida a few times. The biggest issue was the buzzers. Disconnected them and no more issues on my 14 year old car. New brakes and shocks and it was a great car. Sold it with over 300 thousand to a new driver. For $1000.

    Like 2
  12. RG in PDX

    These always reminded me of the Corvair wagon, something about the stance and proportions. Reversed drivetrains, of course… ha ha. My neighbor had one of the first generation SW2 in a very 90s shade of aquamarine. It drove like a go cart and that little engine wailed. He totaled it in a wreck with a Ford Explorer, but was uninjured. They posted photos of the crashed car at the Saturn dealership to show customers how presumably safe their plastic cars were.

    Like 1
  13. David Miraglia

    Good as a daily driver.

  14. stevee

    Have had two, 1993 wagon w/ twincam w/ auto is my current daily. Kind of a later Model A. Starts easier than an A, but a similar kind of simple compared to its contemporaries. 30+ mpg, no timing belt, heater, wipers, cruise control, A/c and radio that you cannot hear due to wind noise. Great little grocery getter at $1,000 prices, with all the things you would have wished for in a Model A.

    Like 1
  15. Rob S

    Collectable saturn??? Did you type that with a straight face?? Isn’t that an
    oxymoron??? Like jumbo shrimp, honest politician, tight slacks. ….

  16. NHDave

    Those mouse belts are an unfortunate characteristic of that era. ’95 Saturns had a revised instrument panel with dual airbags and standard manual belts.

    Contrary to some comments, Saturn S-series were some of the easist vehicles to service/repair at that time (e.g., the automatic transmissions had spin-off filters; timing chain instead of a belt). Ask techs who worked at a Saturn store and then moved on to other brands which are easier to work on; most will say Saturns are simpler to service/repair.

    Although a bit buzzy (a balance shaft would have helped), the DOHC motor loves to rev and is true fun to drive with the 5-speed. The low stance, tighter suspension, better-than-typical weight distribution, and larger wheels and tires gave the twin cam models pretty taut handling.

    “Collectible Saturn” may be as hard for some to imagine today as collectible Biscayne or Falcon was for some in 1967 (or, collectible Celica or K5 Blazer for some in 1983). But, I suspect there’s a well-preserved Saturn Sky, or Ion Red Line, or SC2 coupe sitting quietly in a garage (or barn) that will emerge 10 years from now to genuine interest. And, with more than a few people thinking, “I didn’t think much of them at the time, but I kinda like it now.” And that’s part of what makes this hobby so fun.

    Stay well…

    Like 5
  17. Mikey P

    Price- Great!
    Future collectible- NEVER!

  18. Mitchell Ross

    Absolutely a future collectable. Those who are ragging on Saturns don’t know anything about them. A special car from a special company, owned, but not run by the GM bean counters until the Ion and the rest of the cars that became just more shared GM platforms and failure. The loyalty of owners is Volvoesque. First Gen SL series cars will be the collectable ones as well as second gen 3 door coupes

  19. George

    Had an SW1. Alas it was an auto, which had lots of problems. Would only start in 2nd when it was wet out. Which led to very slow traffic moves. Otherwise, 35 mpg almost anywhere and a good ride on the highway.

  20. Miguel

    It has the Oregon Trail plates and that is the coolest thing about the car.

    I had one of the earliest Oregon Trail plates because I lived in a town close to where they issued them that first day.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.