The Pontiac Solstice is a small bodied, convertible, Roaster type sports car manufactured by the Pontiac division of General Motors. Introduced in 2004 at the North American International Auto show, the Solstice became a quick sensation with consumers and sports car enthusiasts. It was manufactured and assembled in Wilmington, Delaware. It had a very short life, only being produced from 2005 to 2009 due to the closure of the Wilmington plant in July on 2009, in lieu of the economic crisis affecting the United States. Regardless, the Solstice was one of Pontiac’s most successful models of all time with over 7,000 orders placed within the first ten days of availability.
The body of the Solstice was very sleek, with smooth rounded edges and an overall streamlined appearance. The headlights were rounded and fit well into the silhouette of the Solstice. There were a few variations available, each unique in its own right.
Solstice GXP – The GXP was produced from 2007 to 2009. It featured a 2.0 litre, turbocharged engine, and contained the first American made gasoline direct injection engine ever produced. Other features included traction control, anti-lock brakes and a limited slip differential.
Solstice Coupe – Only produced in 2009, the Solstice Coupe featured a hard top, unlike the standard Solstice which was a convertible. The hard top could be removed, however it was not as convenient as the typical soft top and could not be stored in the trunk. This variation is incredibly rare, as only approximately 1,200 were produced before the production plant was shut down.
Racing and Motor Sports
Along with the two production variations, the Solstice also inspired a few concept variations.
Weekend Club Racer concept – features a removable hardtop, an aggressive body kit, and an oversized spoiler.
GXP-R concept – The GXP-R concept is a modified GXP with adjusted breaks and suspension.
SD-290 race concept – Designed for racing, the SD-290 race concept is a single-seat Solstice GXP. It was designed to be lightweight and efficient. Weight was reduced by installing driver-side only windscreen and elimination of doors, windows and air conditioner. A spoiler was added, among other small technical changes.
The Solstice GXP Coupe concept – Equipped with performance parts, performance air intake and a race-ready suspension system.
The Solstice models used in the SCCA club racing championship brought home many trophies over the years as a Formula Drift series race car, driven by Ryan Tuerck. The Solstice took the highest ranking spots in its class for four consecutive years from 2006-2009.
Unfortunately is has been found that all good things must eventually come to an end. So is the story of the highly successful Pontiac Solstice as it fell victim to the struggling US economy in 2009. In April 2009, GM announced the discontinuation of the Pontiac brand completely by the end of 2010. There was mention of selling the Wilmington plant, as well as the Solstice brand to another company, however no negotiations were ever made and the plant closed its doors in July of 2009. The Wilmington plant has since been purchased by Fisker Automotive. Nothing has been said regarding a possible reproduction of the highly popular Solstice.
The Solstice took the Roadster world by storm with a beautiful body style, excellent performance, and variety. While highly popular, the Solstice remained simple and true to its original design, attracting buyers from all walks of life. Had the Solstice been given more time, there is no doubt that I would have been the automobile to turn the Pontiac name around. Maybe in time, the world will see a reproduction of this beautiful machine.