2009 Pontiac Solstice
4-cyl. 145cid/172hp MPFI
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The 2006-10 Pontiac Solstice roadster provided a fitting end to GM’s wild child, a brand which always filled an eclectic and usually performance-oriented niche in the corporation. The division’s death throes also included a couple of superb muscle cars based on Australian Holdens – the GTO and the G8 – but the Solstice was the only sports car.
That the Solstice roadster concept was rushed from pen to tin in merely four months speaks volumes about Bob Lutz, the retired Chrysler executive who was brought in to inject life and enthusiasm to GM. That it was launched 17 years after the Mazda Miata, however, illustrates Detroit’s glacial reaction time. Mazda was readying the fourth version of its roadster at the same time, but the Solstice was competitively priced at $19,915.
That was possible in large part due to GM’s massive inventory of already available parts like Cadillac rear axle and glovebox, Chevy steering column and door handles, and GMC backup lights, just to name a few.
The Solstice’s Kappa platform was shared by the Saturn Sky, Opel GT and Daewoo GX2. Two hydroformed rails connected the front and rear control arm suspensions while a central backbone tunnel linked the firewall and windshield frame to the rear bulkhead behind the seats.
The construction was suitably stiff, but at 2888 pounds it was 400 pounds heavier than the Miata. The 2.4-liter, 177-hp four and 5-speed from the Chevy Colorado pickup weren’t ideal, but performance was addressed in the 2007 Solstice GXP that boasted a 260-hp, 2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged four. This brought 0-60 mph down to 5.5 seconds from 7 seconds. The cost was $25,995 – not bad for 57 percent more power.
A Solstice Coupe was shown at the 2009 New York Auto Show and based on the GXP model. It’s handsome and quite rare, amounting to only 1266 of the 65,724 Solstices built. However, its removable targa top was too big to fit in the car when it was removed, so a canvas top was offered to fill the space.
The demise of Pontiac at the beginning of 2010 accelerated the Solstice’s collectability, and low-mileage cars (especially GXP coupes) were coming to auction as early as 2011. For the most part, though, they remain quite affordable and offer a stylish alternative to the Japanese roadsters of the mid-2000s.