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pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/18/21 7:20 a.m.

You know what I never see? The Pontiac Solstice GXP or Saturn Sky Redline at an autocross.  Even new, I saw only one being raced locally, and that went away after one season. They seemed to have decent power, a good chassis and big tires, so why is no one running them now that they are on the used market? The S2000 remains popular, the Miata is popular in all years, but these twins never took. Are they too heavy? Too expensive? Outclassed? I just wonder how they became the next Mercury Capri XR2 Turbo. 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/18/21 7:28 a.m.

I don't see them often on the road anymore. 

I remember when one of the fast guys in my region ran a Solstice (N/A) in C-Stock, but that was back in the R-Comp era. Apparently, you could stuff some massive Hoosiers under the fenders. Maybe with the switch to TW200 tires they became less competitive?

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
3/18/21 8:06 a.m.

From a street car perspective, I know that the interiors are really cramped and awkward with terrible ergonomics and that there were some weird design oversights like the top/trunk thing.

From the autocross or track car perspective, they can swallow a lot of tire, but I think the base models are on the pokey side and the GXP/Redlines are relatively thin on the ground. I also think I read once that there's no easy way to get a roll bar into one and preserve the soft top.

dps214
dps214 HalfDork
3/18/21 8:08 a.m.

Not classed competitively anymore, plus they were never all that popular to begin with. That said I feel like I see almost as many of them at events around here as s2000s. I was briefly interested in them but just couldn't get over the 90s gm interior.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/18/21 8:23 a.m.

I seem to recall that the turbo models aren't eligible for Street Touring classes and that they are classed rather poorly both in Street and Street Prepared. (Like, B/Street and A/SP or something like that). And most Solstice/Skys that I come across are automatic equipped. 

Also, then you have to live with a Solstice/Sky. Cramped interior, dorky top, limited storage space, terrible interior. The drivetrains in the non-turbo models feel like engineers thought that "coarse" was synonomous with "sporty". It's like driving a low-slung tractor.

jharry3
jharry3 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/18/21 8:38 a.m.

 

The Solstice was featured in the Tommy Kendall hosted show "Setup"  Setup: America's next top racer gets $100k, Solstice ride | Autoblog

 

 

drock25too
drock25too Reader
3/18/21 9:12 a.m.

My wife asked me about one for sale on the book of faces this morning.  

ojannen
ojannen Reader
3/18/21 9:19 a.m.

They are in a weird spot.  The base model is worse than a ND Miata/S2000 for autocross.  All three are classed together in street and street touring but I don't think there is a good reason to run a Solstice/Sky unless you really like it.  The NC Miata is in a similar position.

The Nissan 350Z/370Z has similar power and weight numbers but is a physically bigger car.  The Nissan was the benchmark car for the fastest Street Touring class for a while so the Solstice/Sky turbos were completely bumped out of the category.

It has found a home in CAM-S where it can run 500lbs lighter than the Corvettes due to the rules.  I have seen a few people run them but it is a lot of work to get them faster than a built C5 Z06.

iansane
iansane Reader
3/18/21 9:37 a.m.

I really wanted to like those twins. The exteriors weren't terrible and I'm a horrendous GM fanboi but as soon as I TRIED to sit in it, I never looked at another one again. I'm not crazy tall 6'2 or 6'3 but I have fairly long legs and not being able to fit plus the russian knockoff version of a Kmart knock off version of a mark4 supra interior was the end.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/18/21 9:45 a.m.
iansane said:

I really wanted to like those twins. The exteriors weren't terrible and I'm a horrendous GM fanboi but as soon as I TRIED to sit in it, I never looked at another one again. I'm not crazy tall 6'2 or 6'3 but I have fairly long legs and not being able to fit plus the russian knockoff version of a Kmart knock off version of a mark4 supra interior was the end.

I'm 6'3" and I can't drive the manual transmission ones because my left shin is crammed against the dashboard. And yet I fit in my NA Miata quite comfortably, despite being a smaller car. I too was really excited about these cars because on paper they have all the good stuff: RWD 2-seat roadster with 260hp turbo motor and Nurburgring-tuned suspension. Then I started working at a GM dealer and drove one and was really disgusted with it.

FMB42
FMB42 Reader
3/18/21 10:08 a.m.

I see a guy in a Solstice around here on a regular basis. Haven't had a chance to talk to him about it yet, but probably will eventually. I also seem to remember that the 260 HP turbo engine had the highest power output per displacement of any GM engine up to that time. Those turbos were of a 'twin scroll' design IIRC

bentwrench
bentwrench SuperDork
3/18/21 10:17 a.m.

I think a few of the national level mover/shakers use that turbo motor that came in the Solstice/Sky in their creations.

Most HP per pound?

Tk8398
Tk8398 Reader
3/18/21 12:55 p.m.

I still see them around, they don't seem very appealing though with the lack of really any storage space for anything you would use a normal car for.  Sounds like another Chrysler Crossfire.

ccrunner
ccrunner New Reader
3/18/21 1:20 p.m.

We owned an 09 Sky Redline for only a few months several years ago.  It was my wife's car, and she loved the looks, but found living with it unenjoyable (strictly as a streetcar- no tracking it for her).. The top is a PITA to put up/down.. It's low and slinky, and you have to kind of 'fall' into it (and climb out), which she was not fond of.  Also, as stated, the rear 'hump'/storage area is misshapen and awkward to use as storage.  I loved it despite it's shortcomings (particularly it's engine), but she took to calling it the least practical car ever.  

All of that needs to be taken with a grain of salt however, as she now drives an ND Miata and LOVES it..

*I modded a Sky/Solstice LNF engine/tranny into my '63 Volvo 1800.. LOVE IT!!

 

--ccrunner

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
3/18/21 1:23 p.m.

I saw a Sky Redline in town just yesterday. Pretty car, gray blue with a tan top, and I thought to myself that it was the first one I remembered seeing in a while. 

They always seemed good on paper but a coworker had an NA model and the lack of space was downright comical. 

Wasn't someone doing a V8 swap kit for those?

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/18/21 1:25 p.m.

I looked hard at them. Love the look. But for me, any car would have to be able to take at least a tiny bit of luggage. There wasn't room for a backpack in the trunk when I looked at it - it basically made any weekend trips impossible if you were traveling with a companion, unless you got custom luggage, but that is ridiculous. The Coupes are so rare that it didn't get a chance. 

Add in the fact that the Miata, Z3, S2000, and MR2 existed, it just made it a non-starter. 

obsolete
obsolete GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/18/21 1:32 p.m.

Classic GM. Good idea, executed poorly in too many ways to be a sales success, but the engine was nice.

barefootskater (Shaun)
barefootskater (Shaun) PowerDork
3/18/21 1:35 p.m.

When they came out I was working detail at the local Saturn dealer. I remember the floor manager being all excited about the first delivery (sold before it arrived) and for reasons I can only attribute to my 18yo sexiness, the dude would only let me (out of the detail dept) drive the thing to gas it up for delivery. 
"here's the keys and a gas card, take the back street to avoid traffic as much as you can."

Said back street was long and straight, no buildings, and out of eyesight of the dealer. My first successful drift was in that Sky. It just worked for me.

I see more Ferrari's driving around than even base model sky/solstice. Idk. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
3/18/21 1:36 p.m.

Woman that works in the office next to mine had one.  She hated it.

Looking at it up close, I could understand why.  Both versions look nice enough from the outside but an NC Miata is a better car in literally every other way.

 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/18/21 1:44 p.m.
pointofdeparture said:

From a street car perspective, I know that the interiors are really cramped and awkward with terrible ergonomics

Gods yes they are.  Way back when, the wife's Saturn became unfeasible to repair so we started looking for a little car for her.  She decided she wanted a 2-seater 'vert.  We looked at a Sky and it was absolutely horrible to see out of.  GM just can't seem to design a car that you can see out of easily.

FMB42
FMB42 Reader
3/18/21 1:49 p.m.

Well, off topic and all, I wanted a 1st gen Fiero back in the mid '80s. That changed once I a chance drive one in early 90s. Absolute junk. One of the very worst vehicles I've ever driven. Might have been OK on a race track due to the low center of gravity tho. Now the 2nd gen might have been better, but I never had a chance to drive one. Note I've been a huge Pontiac fan since the mid '70s.

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
3/18/21 1:57 p.m.

A lot of the shortcomings listed in the previous posts are more or less accurate. GM cars had plastic GM interiors, the car feels smaller than it actually is inside (on any car you can't get a realistic assessment of interior space until you loosen up and slump into the seat plus adjust it to give you the most comfort.

And like any car, they were designed to hit a medium as far as suspension stiffness and ride comfort go, so potential buyers wouldn't get turned off and leave without buying.

But underneath all that, the cars are an excellent platform and the turbo LNF engines have enormous potential.  If anyone is that interested, I documented the improvement path in detail on my car at http://www.solsticeforum.com/forum/f43/coupe-378-mod-thread-102178/

Briefly, I own one of the Solstice GXP coupes, of which  781 were built, only 281 of which had manual transmissions like mine.  They were 260 bhp/260 Tq stock, 290 bhp/340 Tq with the GM approved available tune, and weigh right round 3000 lbs.  I did the handling fairly comprehensively with new shocks, springs, alignment and sway bars, all of which transforms handling but would have made them unsalable to most people. I also bumped my engine output up to 375 bhp/375 Tq, which makes for a comfortable touring sports car that gets 30 mpg when you keep your foot out of it, but will break into the 12 sec. range for the 1/4 mile when you want to.

The reason more aren't competing is that rules aside, many owners were not young kids, they were older folks wanting to get into some sporty summer driving but for whom the Miata didn't quite make it.

I enjoy mine a lot (right up there with my other modern sports car, a BMW Z4MC).

With my previous modern sports car, an 88 Fiero GT with a 300 bhp turbo engine:

Shown in good company:

Engine bay:

 

 

 

There is something to be said for an engine that can be  easily made to put out 200 bhp/liter without going inside it. To put that in perspective, the C7 Corvette with supercharged 755 bhp  LT5 engine only had 120 bhp/liter.  I anticipate keeping my car for a long term ownership.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
3/18/21 2:26 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

I always thought the coupes looked really cool.  Kind of like an American TVR.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
3/18/21 2:53 p.m.

Darren McNamara competed in Formula Drift with a one-of-none Saturn Sky Coupe that looked fuggin' siiiiiiickkk.

Sadly it got absolutely destroyed in a crash at FD Long Beach and was retired, replaced with an S14 240SX with an absolutely ridonkulous twin-turbo LS motor.

FMB42
FMB42 Reader
3/18/21 3:16 p.m.

Well, at least that Saturn Sky Coupe was 'replaced' by a worthy successor.

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