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Just got back from a weekend trip with my wife from Orange County to Monterey, California, where my daughter is stationed so she could meet her future car. Total round trip was about a thousand miles... My observations (and a few pictures) follow. I will try to be exhaustive in detail to create an impression of the things that we experienced while making the trip, as I figure that there are a lot of you out there that don't have your SKYs yet and are all curious as to what it's like to bop around in one. This post is for you.

First of all, we were able to pack all of our gear for the two of us to spend a weekend away in the trunk, with the top down. I packed a canvas tote, and my wife packed a small gym bag. I also brought along my laptop in a backback. The laptop and tote went in the center area. The gym back scrunched into the corner without the tire kit, and a gift for my daughter was tucked alongside the stowed top. Our jackets were tucked around the edges of the top once it was stowed. I had to take my jeans out of the tote and stuff them in a corner, and my shaving kit made too big of a bulge in the tote, so it was removed and placed in front of the inflate-o-kit. Once we got to Monterey we were able to transfer everything back into the bags when we checked in.

We departed a little later than planned, and got caught in rush-hour(s) traffic attempting to traverse Los Angeles. The temperature was about 73 degrees, so it was perfect top-down weather. We received many compliments on the freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic. During a short errand off the freeway I noticed the driver behind me snapping pictures of my car with a small digital camera. He pulled ahead and had his co-pilot snap a few from the front, too.

I haven't driven a stick regularly since my Porsches in the late 1980s, and even then I always tried to avoid bumper-to-bumper. By the time I cleared LA my clucth leg was quite sore due to all the shifting.

The Sky was perhaps the best car over the Grapevine that I have ever driven (the Grapevine is a long 6% grade north of LA.) It climbed well in 4th gear, and was able to take the downgrade in gear without accelerating at all. I never had to touch the brakes on the entire downgrade - it was AWESOME. The car handled really well - a true joy to drive while surrounded by others struggling to maintain speed on the upgrade and pumping brakes erratically on the downgrade. The Sky just cruised.

North of the Grapevine in the valley we were able to open it up to about 75 or 80. The side windows are a HUGE help at freeway speeds. Roll 'em down when under 35, for sure, but they are great buffers when going 60-plus. Also, my wife is short, and so she has lots of wasted legroom; we discovered that sliding the passenger seat all the way forward was great in terms of nearly eliminating the wind there - her cap no longer wanted to fly off her head - even at 75 - and her hair stayed tolerable; a good hint for you guys that want to go with the top down and offer some protection for the Mrs. This works great if she doesn't need the extra legroom. The different in airflow with the seat all the way forward versus all the way back is amazing. For you short female drivers that will be able to have the driver's seat all the way forward, you're going to have one fantastic experience and I envy you.

My SKY has a manual transmission. In terms of gearing, the Sky is geared a lot lower than my Opel GTs. In my favorite Opel, the speedo was broken so I just doubled the tach. 3500 RPM was 70MPH. Pretty easy math. In the Sky, 70MPH was about 2800 RPM in fifth gear. I also categorize the gears as follows:

First - Gets the car moving from a dead stop
Second - if the car is moving even just a bit, this is your starting gear
Third - A good gear for efficient acceleration if going 20MPH or better
Fourth - a nice, responsive driving gear for speeds 40PMH to 70MPH or more
Fifth - squeeze out those MPGs on the highway - little or no acceleration here when traveling at highway speeds

In fifth, you have zero response when you step on the gas on the highway. There is just nothing there. Fourth gear is super-responsive. My Spit and Opels were four speeds, and I find myself driving a lot on fourth gear on the SKY. Fifth gear is great for high-speed, low acceleration driving - perfect for saving gas when it costs almost as much as bottled water. It worked good with Cruise Control on the freeway.

Once in the central valley we encountered some blowing dust and fertilizer. It was pretty stinky and miserable with the top down. And then it started to rain. Lightly at first. Using a trick I learned in my Spitfire, I knew that if we kept moving, most of the rain would deflect over the top of the windshield. We drove about ten minutes in the rain and stayed dry. Really. The gross part was that the dust was being collected in the rain and leaving little mud-balls all over the car! After a bit the rain got gloppy and pretty intense. We exited the freeway and put the top up in a hurry. We had to be careful to not send all the stuff packed in around the edges flying when the top came out - but once the top was up it was a lot easer to just fling everyhing back into the vacated space and get back on the road.

By the time the rain stopped it was dark, so we rode with the top up the rest of the way into Monterey. We took Highway 46 west from I-5 to Paso Robles. This is the road where James Dean died in his Porsche 550 Spyder. There we were, zipping along in a little sliver roadster on the same road in the dark... Fortunately I wasn't speeding and there was no semi to extract from my face.

The trip up the 101 was uneventful. The hands-free OnStar phone worked great to contact my daughter to let her know that we were running late. She got herself to the hotel and was there when we arrived. We enjoyed the XM during the trip. The signal was great and we enjoyed the pleasure of not having to change radio stations as we traveled hundreds of miles.

Saturday in Monterey was beautiful. First order of business was to introduce my daughter to the car that she will get when I am done playing with it. It was love at first sight, of course. Then we had to take baby for a bath to wash off all of those nasty mud-balls from the central valley. We found a touchless car wash, and it did a really good job - no water blasted into the top or anything. One thing that I did was to stow the top while the guys were drying it. When the buttresses popped up there was quite a collection of suds tucked in there that the attendants got out. They blotted the top, and it was mostly dry before it was stowed. I knew that it would come out again that night, so I wasn't worried about mildew for the short time that it would be stowed.

I got a pass for the Saturn to get onto the army base so that I would be able to drop off my daughter. As I was waiting to get the pass, all the security guards were going over the car pretty closely. I don't think they were just looking for bombs exclusively because I could hear comments like, "Yeah, this is the Saturn. This is really hot." And also, "They did a much better job on this than the Solstice. It is so much classier." (Sorry Solstice Forum Folks - it's what they said.)

Driving around Monterey I got lots of stares and lots of comments. They usually fell into the categories of:

  • What kind of car is this?
  • I can't believe this is a Saturn!
  • Do you mind - what do these cost? (Followed by shock and disbelief when I say $25,500 MSRP as you see it.)

If I had to estimate, I would say that from Friday, 1PM when we departed to 8PM Sunday when we returned home we had no fewer than 15 people comment on the car, compliment us, ask about it, or give other favorable responses. (With the top down, it is quite easy to chat with the fellow travelers of the road.) There were probably another dozen or so who waved or gave thumbs up. I could not estimate the number of people that I saw pointing or turning heads to follow the car as it moved, or swarming about it when it was parked.

Back to the trip report. Dad and Daughter took the 17 Mile Drive down by Pebble Beach (top down photos are from Saturday) while mom went shopping. When we got lost and pulled over to check the map, a guy came up and asked "Do you mind if I videotape your car? It's the first one I've seen!" He then proceeded to do a 360, filming the car from every angle.

We met Mom over by the Aquarium. I saw a black Solstice coming the other way, and I offered a friendly wave. The Solstice driver seemed puzzled at first, then said "Oh! That's the Saturn version of the Solstice!" as he waved back. So far, I have seen two Solstices on the road, and both drivers were friendly and seemed to love their cars as much as I love my SKY.

Saturday night we gave the SKY to the valet and took a cab to dinner and a movie. (It's times like this that two seats are a real bummer.) We saw the Hedge movie, and I laughed more at this film that at any I have seen in years. It is just excellent. Maybe it was because I was reunited with my little girl and we were seeing a family film like in the old days... But I thought it was very enjoyable.

Sunday I took my daughter back for a 7:00 AM formation. Even though I haven't seen her since Christmas, her pass was cut short, and we didn't get to spend any time with her on Sunday. Such are the sacrifices that our young people are making to defend our country, and you should all appreciate what they are giving up so that you can be safe.

As my wife and I checked out of the hotel, we met a nice couple from Virginia who were interested in the car. The wife decided on the spot that her next car would be a Sky. She said that she found the Sky to be a better fit for her than the Corvette that she is driving now.

Back to two butts and two seats, I took my wife on 17 Mile Drive, where we snapped the picture of the Sky with the top up. It was raining off and on, so we started the day "top up" - and ended up spending the whole day that way. The 17 Mile Drive was spectacular, then on to Highway 1 and the drive along the Big Sur Coast. By the way, we stoped in Big Sur to gas up as we were down to a quarter tank and stations aren't very frequent along the coast highway... 91 Octane was going for $4.36 a gallon there. Yikes! We just put $20.00 worth into the tank, and filled up later in San Luis Obispo for a reasonable $3.42. (Reasonable?)

This was the fourth time that I have driven the Big Sur Road, and the first time that I was ever really in a "driver's car." It was going to be great. BUT - it was rainy. It's not the kind of road that you want to mess with when it's slick. I kept speeds sane, and behaved myself. At one point there was a recent rockslide, and even what appeared to be a small rock did not completely clear under the low clearance of the car... Beware of that.

Also for me at least, a big negative was the lack of visibility with the top up. I've had the car for just over a week now, and this is really the first time that I've had the top up. The front is cut so low and I am so tall that on hilly, windy roads you sometimes can't see those curves ahead to assess oncoming traffic as well as you'd like. Also, the rear-view mirror seems to appear right smack in the middle of the windsheild as opposed to "near the top-ish" cutting out visibility there, too. It's probably due to my height, but it did get in the way of my "watch everything and everybody because I am paranoid" style of driving. The lack of visibility would not be an issue bopping around a flat town, but it was annoying for high-intensity driving like taking the Big Sur Coast Highway on a less-than-ideal day.

We did some outlet shopping south of San Luis Obispo, and with the top up we we had an abundance of trunk space. (Well, you know - compared to what we had with the top down. With the SKY, all things are relative.) The SKY had a prominent parking place in the shopping center, and it was entertaining to see the various groups of people coming around and giving it the once-over.

We got caught in bumper-to-bumper again in Santa Barbara, and that lasted most of the way until we cleared LAX - seemingly forever. My clutch foot was going numb and both knees were throbbing. Again, I have not been in the habit of driving a stick in bumper-to-bumper that lasts for hours on end, so for me this was very miserable. I am six-foot-one with a thirty-four inch inseam, and while I do fit into the Sky, I cannot fully extend my legs even with the seat back all the way. In my other drivers I have been able to place my feet between the pedals or off to the side to straighten my knee for relief on long trips, but I can't do that in the Sky. While it's not an essential driving requirement, you miss the occasional stretch when you can't do it.

Once we cleared LAX the traffic eased and we were back to 70 MPH cruising down the highway, and once again the Sky was a delight. With the top up there was some wind noise (it's not a luxury coupe, after all) but it was a lot quieter than my Spitfire ever was with the top up. Also, I noticed that the ventilation in the Sky was excellent compared to the Spit which always fogged up in the rain. Not the Sky. It was perfectly clear, and I only had to turn the defogger on occasionally.

A week ago I gave the whole car a Harly Wax treatment, and I put Rain-X on all the glass. I am glad I did. The Harly Wax made the water bead up and run right off the car. After a solid day of driving in the rain and muck, the car is still amazingly clean. And the Rain-X made it so that if I was going about 50 MPH or better I didn't have to use the wipers at all. If there was a lot of mist being kicked up by the car ahead then the wipers were helpful at times. But between the Harly Wax and Rain-X, it was pretty amazing to see the water just roll right off the hood and up the windshield and off the car. It was entertaining to watch the balls of water dance into the hood vents and then scoot on out again. Things like that can amuse you when you're suffering under the top of roadster on a rainy day.

So, overall, how was the trip in the Sky? When the conditions were right, the Sky was a delight. It's handling is exceptional. And the response that it gets is unimaginable. You just won't understand what I am saying until it happens to you. For those of you that are waiting for your cars, I hope that some of the novelty of the Sky lingers because it really is fun to have everybody so inquisitive and impressed with your car. Be prepared to be a Goodwill Ambassador for the SKY.

On the downside, two seats when Mom and Dad are visiting Daughter are problematic. You have to pack frugally and sensibly when weekending. There are few options for shifting driving position in the Sky; If you're big like I am, it fits you great but you can only wear it one way. So, if it had a back seat, and a power-adjustable six-way front seat like my Bonneville, and a cargo capacity like our VUE... then it wouldn't be a SKY and it would suck.

The SKY is a great two-seat roadster for bopping around town, and going on day trips. Next time I go to Disneyland or Sea World in San Diego with the wife, the SKY is the car to take because it is so damned much fun to drive that I won't want to go in any other car. But for the trip to Vegas that we are planning, after the Monterey hop I do believe that I will take the VUE. It's just more comfortable for the long hauls on the interstate, and I'll have all that space in the back for stashing the bags of cash that I intend to win there!

So if you're looking for a bop around with the family, big-trunk, six-way-seat, quiet, ultimate luxury mobile, well - the SKY ain't it. DUH! But if you're looking for a great little car that is a delight to hop in and scramble around - and absolutely turn heads while you do it - I have had no car that even approaches the SKY. Ever. It's more refined than my Opel GTs, Spitfire or Porsche 356. It is every bit as luxurious and a lot more stylish than my Porsche 924. On the Fun-O-Meter, it's a perfect 10.

It is truly a one-of-a-kind car, and it is more than worth every penny that I paid for it.

For those of you that are waiting for your SKYs, I hope that helps. And, let me say this... No matter how long you have to wait, it's worth it. If the dealer wants a premium, pay it. Just get one of these things in your hands as fast as you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh, one more thing...

Over the course of the entire thousand-mile trip, including bopping around town, LA bumper-to-bumper, Zipping along the freeway at near eighty...:driving:

24.4 MPG!:thumbs:
 

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* * * *

Great post and review, lots of great information and I agree in many ways with your opinions and advice. I hope everyone gives this a read.
 

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It's A Cool Thing

Great article!!! Thanks from all us Sky owners and soon to be.

I too have had rubber necking looks the few places I have been so far.

On my short trip to work on the 1st day of ownership last Wed, a young driver pulled up beside me and moved no further. When I looked, he was taking photos with his tele. He then dropped behind me and took more,:D :D :D

It was my 1st reaction when I was looking at a Solstice driver 3 months ago. Then I saw the Sky:cool: :cool:

I wasn't looking for another car, but suddenly I went to a Saturn dealer, and another , and another; and finally actually found one. Enough said. I left my $1K deposit, and now I own one (2 month wait). :D :D :cool: :D :D
 

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Enjoyed your weekend with you

Thank you for sharing, have not been to the Pacific side of the USA yet but plan to some day. I enjoyed your short story, and look forward to oneday this year having my own to write about.

Enjoy
Thanks:thumbs:
Kimberly
ChiliSky
 

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Great article and great pics! That was a nice read, and a super good place to get photos. This one is the money shot IMHO.



I cropped and resized it, and did an autolevel correction in Photoshop. Here it is in 800 , 1024 , 1280 , and 1600 wide. I figured that pic would make more than a few people a nice desktop background.
 

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Great job on write-up!
 

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Buzz Lightyear said:
Great article and great pics! That was a nice read, and a super good place to get photos. This one is the money shot IMHO.
:agree: :agree: :agree:
 

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Thanks

1994SC2 said:
* * * *

Great post and review, lots of great information and I agree in many ways with your opinions and advice. I hope everyone gives this a read.
Again, Thanks for the review and info. I plan on a similar trip over the summer being from the same area. Maybe we can get together with other So Cal Sky owners for a BBQ.:thumbs: :thumbs:
 

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Nice article, send it to G.M.or atleast to your local paper. I would need 8hrs and a bandaid on my finger to write a piece like this. Thanks, enjoy and God bless.
 

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Thank you -- Never is there a trip in a SKY that is non-eventful! It was good that every event on this trip was great. Great write-up. Lots of good info!:cheers:
 

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That was one heck of a write up (you should sell it in paperback at the Saturn parts store). My own trip not even 1/4 the distance over the weekend was much the same except for packing and staying overnight. Took just a few pictures on Sierra Highway south of Palmdale (Ca) as it was overcast.
 

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eldeeko said:
That was one heck of a write up (you should sell it in paperback at the Saturn parts store). My own trip not even 1/4 the distance over the weekend was much the same except for packing and staying overnight. Took just a few pictures on Sierra Highway south of Palmdale (Ca) as it was overcast.

What tires are those? Are they stickier than the stock, and is it very noticible?
 

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What a great recap of your trip. Glad things went so well and you had the joy of driving many of us have had too.

Noted that your vin is only 6 from mine (1584), the cars must have chatted before driving to the coasts (Mich. and Cal)
 

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Wow, thanks...I read your review with a lot of emotional ups and downs.
Homesick for my beloved Monterey, having grown up there a half block from the 17 mile entrance
(that's a downer, always homesick)
As has been eluded too by some, I am an oldy moldy and my maiden cruise will be from Wyoming to San Diego, for the return of the second of two kids returning from the hotspot.
(that's an upper).
I am concerned about being the road warrior I have always been and having to stop more than usual, because I have aching this and aching that. Well, okay, I am realistic..maybe my road warrior days have passed.
(that's a downer)
I know how to travel overseas with just a backpac
(that's an upper)
I am hoping I can get used to the limited visibilty and give the thumbs up at the same time...one can only hope!
Thanks again for the read.
P.S. With Fort Ord a State College campus now, is your daughter at the DLI?
 

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Thank You for taking the time to post, Realy great. and thank your daughter
for her service to this great U.S.of A..........Seal9
 
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