I purchased my SC2 new in 2001. I have spent less than $900 on repairs in all that time - 15 years - other than on scheduled maintainance. The car has 167,000 miles on it. Yes, the suspension has become a little rough and jangley, but I live in Minnesota and the snow and salt are really rough on your car and the road, but my SC2 has NEVER once broken down or left me stranded. The car still looks good - no rust, leather seats have held up great. I am now in the market for a new car. Hope I will be this lucky again.
We purchased our 2001 Saturn SC1 in 2003 with 36K miles on it; it has since been reliable for an additional 220K+ miles with only minor repairs needed. Beyond brakes, tires, oil changes, and tune ups we have spent less than $500 on repairs over the course of 12 years. It's also great on gas (manual).
Update: Car is still going strong with only minor repairs needed!
I'm a 20 year old college student and my dad bought me a Saturn SC2 (automatic) with 140,000 miles as my first car when I got my license at 18, about 2.5 years ago. My dad drives a 2001 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck (manual). Let me tell you, his truck has 220,000 miles on it and has NEVER broken down on him in 4 years. In 2.5 years my car has broken down on me more times than I can count on two hands. I'm getting tired of staring at the back of his truck while he tows me back to the house, sometimes 100+ miles away from home. I have maintained this car meticulously, and faithfully gotten every repair ever needed and it STILL breaks down. Every month it's a $500 repair. Get a Toyota, I'll be.
This was my first car with 96,000 miles on it when I bought it for $3,000. I had for over three years without a single problem. Driving around New England was fun to do, but it would always cost me $50 or so to fuel up.