Monday, March 10, 2014

General Motors Badge-Engineers a Sports Car

The 2002 Pontiac Solstice show car drew enough interest that General Motors placed it in production, perhaps as a corporate morale-builder in the mold of the original Dodge Viper.  (Bob Lutz was on the scene in both instances.)

The Solstice entered production in 2005 as a 2006 model, as described here.  A facelifted version was placed in production as the Saturn Sky, an effort to broaden interest and increase production.  Then the Sky was used as the basis for the Opel GT roadster and Daewoo G2X. All of these were assembled at GM's Wilmington, Delaware plant.

The 2008 financial crisis struck, sending General Motors into bankruptcy.  Side-effects of this were the killing of the Pontiac and Saturn brands along with the closure of the Wilmington facility.  Total production was about 108,000 vehicles, of which around 66,000 were Solstices, 34,000 were Skys and 7,500 were Opels.  I could find no data regarding G2X sales; apparently they were essentially nil.

Another thing I do not know is whether these sports cars were profitable.  My guess is that they were a money-loser.

As for styling, it was well-done, hewing to the classical 1950s sports car themes embodied by  Austin-Healey, Corvette, and such.  The Pontiac had a rather soft front end that, while being a reasonable styling solution for incorporating the marque's traditional grille theme, was lacking in "punch" or character.  I would have preferred something stronger, yet maintaining theme continuity.  In contrast, the Sky's front was crisp, bold, and altogether more purposeful.  Also conventional, not very distinctive.  The Opel and Daewoo versions are essentially Skys with different badges on the grille bar and a few other places.


Pontiac Solstice - 2006

Saturn Sky - 2007

Opel GT - c. 2006

Daewoo G2X - 2007

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