Future Classics: Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe
All pictures from caranddriver.com
I realize that this is the second entry in the “Future Classics” series that now includes only Pontiacs, but with its dying breaths, the storied high performance brand produced two models that were the perfect sendoff. One was the G8 GXP that was to run with the best sports sedans from Europe, and the other was a hardtop version of the Solstice roadster.
Sharing the same platform with its Saturn Sky sister (and badged as the Opel GT in other markets), the Solstice was first sold in 2005 as a roofless two seater at a base price under $20,000. The car was first previewed in 2002 as both coupe and roadster concepts, but the soft top was the only version sold upon its release. The future of the fixed roof variant seemed uncertain, but Pontiac finally pulled the trigger in 2009, which would end up being the only year the coupe was produced. Shortly after the first batch of cars was sent out to dealers, General Motors announced that by the end of the following year, several GM brands would be disbanded, including the 84 year-old Pontiac.
The small sports car debuted with the 2.4L inline-4 that also saw duty in the Pontiac G5 coupe, and it produced a respectable 173hp. That made it as powerful as its chief competitor, the Mazda Miata, although that car was several hundred pounds lighter. At 2,800 lbs, though, the Solstice wasn’t exactly a porker, and weight as well as cost was saved by using a manually-operated roof. The big news from Detroit just a couple years later was that an optional, turbocharged 2.0L could be had in the Pontiac Solstice GXP. The new engine sent 260hp through rear wheels using the standard five-speed manual and allowed the GXP to hustle from 0-60mph in just 5.5 seconds.
The gorgeous back end: that’s where your money’s going.
The Coupe finally debuted in 2009, and both standard and GXP editions were available for order. Each came with the choice of a five-speed manual or automatic transmission, and all were targa hardtops. The trunk couldn’t fit the removable roof, so it’s essential for owners to check local whether before taking one out for a spin. Outside, the fastback proportions are similar to that of the BMW Z4 Coupe, and the results completely transform the look of the car. It is so much more sleek and natural than the convertible; it is definitely not a rush job. Inside, however, the Solstice Coupe is the same as the standard car, which means plastic silver trim everywhere and unsupportive seats. Well, no car’s perfect, especially not a small sports car costing roughly $25,000.
Interior couldn’t even be generously described as “spartan”.
So why is the Pontiac Solstice Coupe a Future Classic? For one, only 1.152 production models can be counted in in its ranks, along with an additional 114 pre-production 2009 and 2010 models. Of the production models, 371 were standard Coupes and 781 were GXPs, oddly enough; typically the base engine on any car is considered to be the volume option. Of all Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupes, only 226 were ordered with the manual transmission. Following the normal collector’s car formula of uncommon car+most powerful engine+manual transmission=highest price in the future, I have concluded that the GXP Coupe with a manual will be the most likely to bring in the bucks a few decades down the line.
Pontiac was a long-running, very American car company whose muscle cars in the 1960s, like the Roadrunner and GTO, made the line synonymous with performance. Even when Pontiac, along with every other American auto manufacturer, was beaten and bloodied from emissions regulations in the 1970s and 80s, it still released the mid-engined Fiero and relatively powerful TransAm. A revival of powerful engines was well under way in the late 2000s with the G8 GXP and Solstice GXP. Unfortunately, Pontiac never had a chance to correct the numerous flaws in the Solstice. Because of Pontiac’s heritage, its rarity, and its performance, the Solstice GXP easily earns a spot of the Future Classics list.
Thank you to solsticeforum.com and this post for Solstice Coupe production numbers.