Pontiac Solstice (Saturn Sky) RIP

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

As General Motors prepares to ignore its own history, it also appears that the company is set on repeating it. Two decades ago, the star-crossed Fiero finally found redemption in the form of the 1988 GT V6, only to be canceled immediately after that revised car received positive reviews from consumers and the press. Yesterday, a halt was called to production of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, just as the introduction of the GXP Coupe offered a glimmer of the decent sports car the Skystice could eventually have become. Like the man said, it’s deja vu all over again.

The original Solstice and Sky were fatally flawed cars, Playskool-esque steel-body roadsters that weighed nearly as much as their Corvette relative but were powered by less than half as much motor. The body panels creaked, the top didn’t work well at all, and the overall driving experience could best be described as “agricultural.”

Even the singular success enjoyed by the Solstice in SCCA road-racing and autocross competition turned sour in GM’s mouth. In 2007, employees from the Performance Division used questionable paperwork to campaign a “skunkworks” GXP Club Sport in the SCCA’s A Stock class, competing directly against their own legitimate customers.

The Solstice’s swan song was a “coupe” that was really more of a half-baked targa variant. As with its predecessors, it was rushed to market, inadequately engineered, and cynically marketed to a customer base that had already grown tired of broken promises from General Motors. With approximately a thousand examples produced, it’s certain to be a collector car one day, but make no mistake: In the history of modern two-seat sports cars, the Solstice is an AMC Gremlin and the Coupe is a Levi’s Edition.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Rivercat30 Rivercat30 on Jul 30, 2009
    I’d wager the Solstice / Sky outsold the S2000 considerably. Without a doubt and, of course, GM won't build it because people want to buy it. And not everyone wants a car that has to be revved to 7000 rpm to make any power…:) Right again, but those would be the people who haven't experienced the fun of revving an S2000 or the absolute ecstasy of shifting when you hit that 7K.
  • Rocketrat Rocketrat on Jan 02, 2011

    As has been pointed out on this comment thread about the seductively beautiful but sadly (and predictably) disappointing Sky / Solstice, it's an all-too-familiar story absolutely typical of General Motors, signature corporation of the United States of America: GM learned nothing from its failure(s). It also learned nothing from its sucesses -- because it wasn't interested in its customers. It learned nothing from the 1969 Corvair; nothing from the Cosworth Vega; nothing from the Cavalier; nothing from Yenko or Baldwin/Motion; nothing from the Quad4 (introduced with no balance shaft...). It apparently fought companies that wanted to bring back updated or updatable "crate versions" of its signature cars from the past -- instead of reopening its own, shut-down plants to build them itself. GM was run by cowardly accountants, bloodless lawyers and blind, overpaid, self-absorbed "executives" -- protected until the lake finally ran dry by its favored politicians. Its real specialty was "making the first 200,000 Americans who bought any given product it made feel like friendless fools." Taking your GM product "back to the dealership" when it had broken-while-brand-new was always like showing up at "somebody else's high school reunion." Perhaps there's a special corner in hell for Alfred P. Sloan and his successors. However, even hell might not allow that kind of smarmy, self-congratulatory mediocrity.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three