As some of our readers know, I used to be employed by that fine organization known as General Motors. What I did for The General isn’t really important, as by the Fall of 2009 they had declared bankruptcy and had decided that I, along with a large percentage of their workforce, was no longer a valuable asset. I’m not going to say that being in the minority of the company in saying “the bailout is a bad idea” contributed to my demise, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Also declared to be bad assets were the two smaller divisions of the company – Pontiac and Saturn. Now, while I’d be glad to outline for you where I feel they went horribly awry, this is not the time nor place. See, while I feel GM has made numerous horrible choices that have brought them to be what is basically a second tier car manufacturer, they did have a few bright, shining moments. Oddly, most came from the secondary brands to the leaders (Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac). This was one of those moments.
In light of Steve’s post, I decided to forgo my original plan of finding some awesome European proper sports car for a steal, and instead found this – a European proper sports car for a steal. The Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky were based on the Vauxhall VX220. Vauxhall asked Lotus (yes, that Lotus) to build them a proper sports car, which was basically an Elise (yes, that Elise) with a GM motor instead of a Rover or Toyota motor in the middle. The Vauxhall VX220 was built on the same production line as the Series 2 Lotus Elise, on the same chassis, and shares a decent percentage of parts compatibility. GM then modified the platform (because why leave a good thing good?) by sticking the motor up front, renamed it the Kappa Platform, and born from that was the Opel GT, the Pontiac Solstice, and the Saturn Sky. Like most late Pontiacs and Saturns, these were GM European cars brought over because both brands had been so badly managed by GM that it was easier just to use the Indian Head brand and former Toyota partnership as a front for importing Vauxhalls and Opels to the States. Sales were low, but it was a surprisingly good move for us.
The Sky, and its horribly ugly kissing cousin the Pontiac Solstice were brought over with two engine choices. The first was a gutless naturally aspirated four banger that was marketed towards teenage girls and secretaries. Those of you with more than two braincells, or more concerns with who Billy was kissing, picked up the Solstice GXP or Sky Red Line. Those with more than three braincells obviously picked the much, much better looking Redline. The Redline was powered by a 260 horsepower turbocharged Ecotec motor, the same out of the Cobalt SS Turbo. A five speed manual sent power to the rear wheels through a limited slip differential. It is a roadster, yes, but a good looking one and one of few that looks equally good with the top up or down. This example out in Olive Branch, Mississippi shows a whooping nine thousand miles on the clock. In other words, it was broken in last week and is basically brand new. It comes in just under KBB, but on cars like this, it is hard to trust the KBB value. Considering this thing was hardly driven and is being sold for about $10k under what they sold in the real world, it is a true steal.
True, there is no longer a dealer support network for Saturn, but its a GM product so any problems that can’t be fixed with a basic SAE ratchet set, some duct tape, and hitting it with a hammer are problems not meant to be fixed. The turbo is set perfectly for a swap for more power, and if you are a torque monster kind of guy, yes, the LS1 will fit. Its a clean car, and a good deal, and you’ll make Steve happy by getting a sports car that doesn’t weigh 3500 pounds. Click here to go to the AutoTrader listing, and enjoy the ride.