The story of how Vauxhall's Lightning concept became the Saturn Sky After years of badgering by British car enthusiasts, the beautiful Vauxhall Lightning roadster concept is to go into production. But hold the champagne. It probably won't go on sale in Britain. It's now known as a Saturn, that's GM's American small-car brand. The car was originally designed by Brit Simon Cox as a show car for Vauxhall's centenary in 2003. There were hopes it would go into production: it was conceived as a VX220 replacement, albeit front-engined, and you can see it in the design cues. It sat on a new General Motors rear-drive platform called Kappa, specially designed for small sports cars. The first Kappa car was the Pontiac Solstice, a show car in 2002 and due for production this year. Trouble was, GM Europe didn't think it could justify rushing it into production. And if it had delayed, the 2005 pedestrian protection rules would have meant it needed a complete redesign with a higher nose. Before GM and the Italians fell out, the design was even offered to Alfa. Then GM decided its Saturn brand needed a whole new image. So, from then on, all Saturns would have to share the Vauxhall/Opel look. So what better halo car than the Lightning? Thus it is that the orphan found a home as the Saturn Sky. Powered by a 2.4-litre 170bhp four, it'll cost less than $25,000 (£14,000!). For which buyers get a torquey engine, all-independent suspension and a nicely turned-out cabin. It looks like a genuine MX-5 alternative, though no-one outside GM has properly tested the Sky or Solstice yet, so the dynamics are no more than a series of claims. One final painful irony... Because the Solstice was slipped through European homologation before pedestrian protection came into force, the Sky can be sold in Europe as a 'derivative' of it. But GM hasn't done the right-hand drive version, and says it's not worth the effort. Doh! Vauxhall doesn't mind selling cars from other divisions - look at the Australian Monaro. But it says it might well baulk at LHD. We are the poorer for it.